Sunday, May 19, 2024

College celebrates Trans Visibility Day

Trans Trivia attendees, predominantly brothers of Nu Theta Gamma, pose after the event hosted by Kelly Metzgar (in purple) and Regan Levitte (in polka dot) to end the day of programming. The event featured a jeopardy-style game with questions on LGBT celebrities and personalities, laws, history and queerness in cultures around the world.

By Jesse Taylor

International Transgender Day of Visibility was last Friday, March 31. All across the country  transgender people and supporters gathered in celebration of their identities. At SUNY Plattsburgh, the LGBTQ+ Resource Committee staff worked with the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance and Dr. Michael Morgan to bring together a series of events in recognition of the national observance.

To kick the day off, students were encouraged to chat with the  LGBTQ+ Resource Committee in the H.U.B. from 9 to 11 a.m. about anything, from people’s experiences as members of the transgender community to their journey in discovering their transgender identities. 

The discussion in the H.U.B. was followed by a panel discussion at 11 a.m. hosted by Kelly Metzgar, co-founder and executive director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance and joined by panelists Lamar Childs, Nate LaBounty, Sage Wolf, Gray Adkins and Amber Desjardins. To open the panel, Metgzar explained what Transgender Day of Visibility is: 

“It’s an annual event that occurs March 31, dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by the trans community worldwide,” Metzgar said.

The transgender community faces discrimination from various groups of people across the globe. This can lead to anxiety, depression and suicidal ideations if transgender people are not properly supported in their journey as a trans person. The Trevor Project found in a 2022 survey of 34,000 queer individuals aged 13 to 24 that more than half of transgender youth had  seriously considered suicide in the previous year.

“It’s a really scary time to be trans,” Childs said.

Being visible means freeing one’s own identity and celebrating it, allowing one’s true self to become seen by all. 

“It’s really just like trying to push back against all that pressure and shame and secrecy that we get taught,” Adkins said. 

Transgender people sometimes live in secrecy for fear of retaliation from family, friends or even strangers.

“I have faced some battles being a trans woman I am, with violence, especially in women’s bathrooms,” Desjardins said.

Although many of the panelists were quick to point out that the queer community in Plattsburgh is strong and welcoming, this is not the case for all areas in the country. 

Openly identifying as transgender is requiring more bravery with the passing of legislation across the country that tries to prevent gender and sexuality from being discussed in schools, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and deny transgender people gender-affirming healthcare, as in Tennessee. However, bravery will only get some so far, as being transgender also takes a lot of personal work.

Morgan, a professor of communication sciences and disorders and speech therapist, hosted another discussion at 2 p.m. to talk about the work he does with transgender individuals who believe their voice does not reflect the way they feel about their gender. Men and women have differences in the way that their vocal tract is constructed, making it more difficult for trans women to convey the voice that they want. Morgan quite literally helps transgender people find their voice.

For transgender people, finding that voice is important as the community has received a lot of media attention in recent years. Each transgender person is an individual with their own thoughts, needs and ideas with no one member of the community a representative of the entire population of transgender people.

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