The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Training course offers basics on transgender issues

 

April 24, 2018



PORTALES — The first step in understanding and accepting transgender people is as simple as realizing there are more than two kinds of people in the world, according to the director of the New Mexico Transgender Resource Center.

Adrien Lawyer presented a “cultural humility” training course for a group of Eastern New Mexico University faculty, staff and students Monday afternoon, where he said that cisgender people — or people who are not transgender — will never be experts about their transgender fellows.

“It’s not just about letting people deliver a Powerpoint presentation to you and saying, ‘OK, now I learned.’ We keep learning, we learn all the time, we look for opportunities to learn about people who are different from us,” he said.

A transgender person, according to Lawyer, is “just someone whose internal gender — what we know about ourselves on the inside — does not match what was written on your birth certificate; what you were assigned at birth.”

Many transgender people do not identify with “the gender binary” — the idea that male and female are the only genders, Lawyer said.

In fact, he added that the “transgender” umbrella covers a much wider swath than many people think.

“It still actually takes a lot of nerve to call yourself trans, so to us, that’s pretty much the definition. If somebody says they’re trans, they are,” he said.

Speaking of language, he clarified to the audience that cisgender people can feel free to say “trans.” What they may want to remove from their vocabulary, however, is the use of transgender as a noun.

“When you call somebody by one of their attributes, you dehumanize them. You take away their personhood. In the medical field, I think folks are trying to pull back from saying things like ‘a diabetic,’” he said. “A person is not diabetes. That’s a person, and they have diabetes, and they’re dealing with it.”

Professor Steve Bellin-Oka said the training was important to help make transgender students feel like they “have faculty who are trained in their issues and understand them.”

While Anna George, president of the ENMU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Pansexual, Intersex and Ally Alliance, knows not everyone will be accepting of the transgender community in Portales — of which there are at least five people, she said — knowing about it is “an essential tool to existing in today’s society.”

“If we don’t know the ways to treat them in the first place, then we’re choosing to live in what I believe to be ignorance. And I think choosing to not be able to treat people in the way they deserve and would like to be treated is wrong,” she said.

Events that bring awareness to issues faced by marginalized groups like transgender people are integral to getting a better understanding of the world, according to ENMU student Kyle Lease.

“It does make people uncomfortable, and people don’t want to talk about what makes them uncomfortable. It’s easier to sweep it under the rug and kind of pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said.

 
 

Reader Comments
(1)

RAYMOND R FISHER writes:

I wish they offered this course to the public, I have long graduated ENMU but am confused by the new flavors of sexuality as I have transgender folks in my family!!!

 
 
 

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