Abstract: This workshop provides a brief overview of gender as a space of diversity and challenges participants to rethink the basic assumptions about gender variance. The pervasive understanding of gender in society is flawed and harmful to anyone whose sense of self does not match, especially those in the Trans* community. Gender as broadly understood is based on the assumption that appearance communicates a person’s biological sex and gender identity. Each of these elements of identity functions independently, to make up how a person interacts in the social world. Gender variant individuals challenge the accepted construction of gender and are forced to operate from the margins. Statistics show overwhelming numbers of Trans* individuals have reported workplace harassment and discrimination resulting in disproportionately high rates of homelessness, depression and suicide in the gender variant community. Gender identity and expression are not universally protected in the workplace, housing, and many educational spaces.
In this interactive workshop, participants will be given the tools to navigate the confusing language of gender and gender variance. We will explore new ways to conceptualize gender and place that within a space of action. The group will identify the structural barriers to inclusivity in their social environments and will propose ways to create open and affirming spaces. This workshop will be a combination of presentation and small group discussions. Participants will leave equipped to continue discussing gender purposefully and implement changes in their communities.
JC Acosta is currently a graduate student at The College at Brockport and co-facilitator of the Rochester Trans* Group. She has been an active member of the Trans* community since beginning her transition in 2009. JC has used her undergraduate background in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies from Brockport to actively engage in education and activism related to Trans* identities.