UMKC students and community members gathered in the Student Union on Wednesday, Sept. 7 to discuss how to be an effective ally to the transgender people. This conversation signaled the first meeting of the Fall 2016 semester for the on-campus Trans + Allies club.
Group leaders and UMKC psychology doctoral students Michelle Farrell and Mirella Flores opened the meeting by introducing terminology. They shared perspectives on vocabulary like “trans,” “non-binary,” and “genderqueer,” utilizing the popular Gender Unicorn illustration to familiarize new and returning members. Farrell emphasized the evolutionary nature of language and the importance of putting continuous effort into better understanding it and its very real impacts on people.
“Terminology, language, identity, and labels–all of those are constantly changing, so really don’t make assumptions around that and get a clear picture of how someone identifies,” Farrell said.
Farrell and Flores also strived to add complexity to the idea of “transitioning.” Both leaders appreciated freshman Jenna Squires’ broad definition.
“Transitioning is anything. From maybe thinking it to changing everything,” Squires said.
This vast spectrum remained a common theme throughout the meeting, during which Trans + Allies aimed to share varied trans experiences, rather than a singular storyline.
“So for instance, you may have two transmen—one of them might be content with finding a name that fits him, one of them might want to take hormones or have top surgery or bottom surgery,” Flores said.
The club will continue to have one meeting per month throughout the fall semester. On October 5th, members will address trans portrayals in the media.