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OUTRhodes Pride week 2008 PDF Print E-mail

9 April 2008

Image OUTRhodes the LGBIT society of Rhodes University holds a pride week every year. This year I approached them telling them that I had a power point presentation which deals with Transgenderism and if they were interested I will be willing to present it.

Mike from OUTRhodes contacted me and I quickly ran through the presentation and he said that it would be wonderful if I would consider presentation it during the pride week. I readily agreed thinking that it would be a small group like last year. Was I wrong, this year it was bigger and better with a large lecture venue that seat around 150.

I attended the opening and was joined by two other transsexuals and we thoroughly enjoyed the opening speech by the Vice Chancellor Dr Saleem Badat who challenged all LGBTI people to show that they were just normal people, as even though the university is against any form of discrimination it was up to those who are discriminated to stand up for themselves. Another point that he emphasized was that if you fight against any form of discrimination of say, against Transgender, then you are fighting against all forms of discrimination, be it raciest, gay, gender or any thing else, they are all interlinked in the broader sense.

I felt free and wonderful to be out as my true gender as this, except for the public exposure that I received in Kalk Bay in March, was one of the few times that I spent amongst  relative strangers and on home turf, where I work. Seeing other staff members present and giving their support, many of these staff members are within the LGBIT community. Either gay or trans. It takes courage to do what I have done and the rewards far out weigh any discrimination, if any from some co-workers who are misinformed or opposed to Transsexualism.


Title: Transgenderism; A celebration in diversity

The starting issue being; Transgender: What is it?
Expression by people who’s Gender identity is in conflict with their birth gender.
A good definition being: “The sense of self is in conflict with the gender assigned to a person at birth, and its corresponding stereotypical role.”
This is followed by the prevalence of Transgenderism, according mainly to what is found in the DSM – IV. The impact of the ‘condition’ on a person’s life and the revised statistical data with an estimate focused on Transgender people in South Africa.
The next issue addressed is the various theories on the cause of Transgenderism, Behaviour Theory and the Neurobiological Theory. A short history on each and which one is accepted today, (neurobiological, is also discussed).
The various psychological impacts and problems that being Transgendered has on the person, i.e. their life, family, friends and co-workers. Various stages of discovery that a Transgendered person experiences on finding out that they are Transgendered. The different steps along the Transgendered journey towards transitioning, and SRS, including the various routes that one can take are looked at. The various procedures that Transgendered people under go, both psychical, hormonal and surgery for both MTF and FTM. A comparison of being a Transvestite/Crossdresser and a transsexual, and where they stand within the Transgendered umbrella is also addressed. The sexual orientation of Trans men and women is looked at and explained. Legal aspects for South Africa are also explained. The final two subjects addressed is the ones on being sensitive towards Transgendered people, the use of correct pronouns and such, plus the different terms describing the different Transgendered people.

On the Wednesdays evening I was faced with around 35 people who had come to hear what I had to say. Some were from my department where I work. This included the director of our MA Clinical program and the Head of Department. A few MA students from the department were also present and members of OUTRhodes, friends and interested parties. Two other local trans woman were also there to give me support, Ann and Shauna.

A journalist student also was present to video the presentation. I found my self being wired for sound and at 7pm I was ready to start. I had some mixed feelings and was also some what apprehensive with butterflies doing their thing.

I opened with a question: What makes a man, woman, girl, boy, male, female…”
Then went on into the presentation with short snippets from my journey and a little light hearted comments, one of the main ones being the word of the neurons that are different in male and female brains, I can never get that word around my tongue. I also touched on legal aspects namely the marriage issue. Trans people cannot remain married if they wish to change their identity. I said that this at least gives one the opportunity to wear a wedding dress as in my case. I wish to do so and that is what we want in order to remain a family.

At first it was a bit scary to be standing there in front of so many that know you as your ‘mask’ self and then to present your true self to them. I also commented that this presentation was a demonstration of how not to come out to your friends, co-workers and such, but that got a good laugh from them as well. All aspects of transgenderism were addressed and explained and very little was left out.
Would I do it again? Yes I would. Intimidating as it was it was also enlightening and empowering, giving me courage for when I will go 24/7.


About the Author:

I am a trans woman (MTF) and busy with transitioning, been a member of GDX for around 3 years, very active in activism on Transgenderism as many do not under stand it. 

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