SLJ Club hosts discussion about the transgender community

Jennie Torres

The Society, Life and Justice Club hosted an event called Transform your Mind on March 30 to initiate an open discussion with students about the transgender community.



The president of the club, Tori Eigner, and vice president Jacqueline Kanzler collaborated on planning this event for the past year.

“We really wanted to have an event this year that would be student run and be something that I think engages everybody on the campus,” Eigner said.

There was a panel of three speakers, including Dr. Barbara Gurr who is an assistant professor with the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program at the University of Connecticut. The other two speakers were Matt Brush and Parker Terrell, who are transgender men who were willing to share their stories.

The panel also answered questions, ranging from the discrimination transgender people face in society to how hormones changed their bodies to how they treat their romantic relationships.

One person asked the panel how they would speak to someone who was questioning their gender identity, and they responded with one major answer: to trust yourself.

“If you’re thinking about it and you can’t stop thinking about it, there’s probably something there,” Brush said. “You can ignore it as long as you want and the people around you might never come around to it, but at the end of the day, you’re the one that has to live your life.”

Gurr followed Brush’s statement with her own, pointing out that nowadays there are many resources to help someone who is questioning their gender identity.

“Over the last five to 10 years, research is just proliferating so quickly,” she said. “You’re going to come up with so many things; you being able to get research done privately. I would agree, trust yourself because you do in fact know yourself.”

Junior Alie Bates attended the event and said she loved what it had to offer.

“I think it is very important for students to become more informed on the transgender community and I felt that this event did a great job with that,” she said. “The event really opened my eyes to issues I didn’t know too much about – such as how important it is to have gender neutral bathrooms in public places.”

Gurr was pleased to see how many students were open to the discussion.

“A lot of folks are talking about transgender, but we don’t really know that much about it or don’t know how to talk about it, even in terms of language; what words we use or how we use those words,” she said. “Hopefully [it] helps people be more comfortable talking about it and also [gives] information and perspective.”

Brush found this to be a learning experience for the students.

“I’ve done panels in all different types of settings and I think it’s interesting to see who comes out. From what I noticed from the crowd, I think it was really diverse,” he said. “I think we had some good back-and-forth and I hope people took something away from it.”