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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

TAG sponsors Trans-Awareness Week

In an effort to increase the visibility of transgressive gender on campus, the Transgender Advocacy Group (TAG) launched the second annual Trans-Awareness Week this Monday. Trans-Awareness Week featured one trans-related event each day and culminated in a memorial service on Younker Beach last night.

Trans-Awareness Week kicked off with a roundtable discussion on Monday night, entitled “Sex: Pre-Op or not?” at the Student Health Information Center (SHIC). The workshop was led by TAG’s founder Nik Jameson ’11, who helped create the group last year.

“I helped co-found TAG because I thought there was a real gap in the visibility of that community on campus,” Jameson said.

Jameson added that Trans-Awareness Week is especially important in light of the campus becoming more gender neutral.

Jameson began the workshop with an exposition of transgender terms, including “genderqueer,” “cisgender,” “M-to-F” and “F-to-M”. Along with TAG President Anne Damtoft ’12, Jameson discussed the dating scene of trans individuals, while addressing and dismissing common myths.

“Transfolk don’t just date other transfolk,” Damtoft said. “If we did it would be a very small pool.”

Jameson and Damtoft also shared information about trans health care and local resources for trans students. They discussed the costs and accessibility of top and bottom surgery for both “F-to-M” and “M-to-F” individuals, hormone suppressants, hormone injections and the risks and benefits of each. Damtoft considered the workshop a success.

“I think it’s really good we have a space to discuss the intersections of gender and sex in a way that we do not talk about much, not just on this campus, but as a society,” Damtoft said, although she added that she was somewhat disappointed with the workshop’s light attendance.

Lily Cross ’11, another member of TAG, agreed that the discussion was somewhat under-attended.

“It just speaks to the campus climate about transsexuals,” Cross said.

Damtoft believed that this could partly be due to a lack of adequate publicizing of the event on TAG’s part.

Regardless, allies found the workshop worthwhile. Katie Loftur-Thun ’14 said she found it informative.

“It was awesome,” Loftur-Thun said. “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before and I got to ask questions and talk about a lot of things. I’m glad I came.”

Tuesday saw dozens of Grinnellians don clothes associated with the opposite sex for Cross-Dress-to-Class Day. Damtoft said it went fairly well, although the turnout was not as high as she would have expected.

“Diagnosing Difference,” a feature-length documentary directed by Annalise Ophelian, was shown on Wednesday in the Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH). The film spoke to the historical practice of transgender people being diagnosed with “mental disorders” and undergoing a year of therapy before being allowed to get surgery.

Transgender Awareness week concluded with a transgender memorial service on Younker Beach Thursday evening at 5 p.m. intended to parallel the national Transgender Day of Remembrance held on Nov. 20. Cross and Damtoft prepared for the service by spending four hours going through records online and recording incidents of lives lost to trans-phobic violence.

In order to commemorate these lives Cross and Damtoft placed candles inside of about one hundred paper bags meant to represent the murder victims. As Younker Beach flickered, Dean of Religious Life Reverend Deanna Shorb spoke about the church’s role in contributing to intolerance of queer and transfolk. She concluded the service by reciting a Trans Day of Remembrance prayer.

“I think it was a really beautiful way of looking at transgender people as part of the diversity of creation,” Damtoft said.

Damtoft thought the memorial was a valuable exercise in acknowledging the identity of the transgender community.

“We’re recognizing that these people existed and what we are witnessing has happened in the hopes that it will never happen again, even though it probably will,” Damtoft said. “What we can do is try to minimize it, remember it, and speak out against it.”

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