Speaking is something I find very rewarding. There is the obvious, which is providing outreach and informing the public about being transgender. I always contend that once someone knows a transgender person, preconceived notions can be as change to positive realities.
I have a very dear friend that was a professor at Florida International University (FIU), Miami and I would go each semester (7 years) and present before her graduate level physiology and human sexuality classes. The subject, “Being Transgender”. The students were PHD and masters students studying to become therapist or physicist.
Early class presentations entailed me lecturing with a long presentation and then opened up the discussion for questions. Typically a three-hour class. Sometimes it would be only me and other times I would put together a panel. After doing the class several times, I noticed that the presentation was not needed and the students were capable of asking all the right questions. Thus, I stopped the long presentation, did a short presentation/introduction (about 5 minutes) and told the class they could ask anything. The first time trying this, I was a little apprehensive.
My statement was I would candidly answer all questions. If the question was too proving, I would have the option to pass. I also told the class they could approach me privately during the break and ask question too. I never had a question I did not attempt to answer and I went deep inside myself to answer many of the questions. Some of the questions were very thought provoking. It was like a therapy session with direct questions. I learned a lot by just opening up in an effort to help others see me as I am and learn. That was a very revealing/learning time that I enjoyed immensely. I would always pass out a survey after and some of the comments were very touching.
Each class was very different and I was amaze how fast the time would go by. What was most interesting and funny is that there was one question that consistently came up in every class: “What bathroom do you use?”
If ever you have the opportunity, do participate. Attitudes change - One person at a time.
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