On March 31st, many showed their support and celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility, a holiday dedicated to awareness of transgender people and the discrimination experienced by them. At Argonne, we had a series of three speakers come by and talk about their experiences. Rebecca Bradford, Josie Dabrowski, and Suellen Cook each shared unique perspectives in front of a full room of support, people with questions, and the curious. Click here to see Rebecca’s slides for the seminar. Here’s what a few of the participants had to say:
“I greatly appreciated the Transgender Day of Visibility presentation. It was a generous gesture from the transgender community to the rest of the lab. The meeting gave me a chance to expand my world view and comfort zone. After hearing the speakers, I understand better that we are not so different, and that we each have an urgent need to live genuinely. I was pretty sure before the meeting that I have no problems with others living however they are comfortable and now I am even more sure. I also appreciated the opportunity to learn that Argonne is a safe place.”
“It was touching to hear the personal stories of the various individuals. It also saddens me that so much of our society still does not have a live and let live attitude, which, according to the statistics, drives so many transgender people (especially teenagers) to suicide.”
-Shari MacGregor, ally
“I found the gathering for the Transgender Day of Visibility to be an all-around great meet up. For those who had little to no experience with the transgender experience, the speakers provided valuable knowledge and the basic vocabulary to openly and inoffensively speak about being transgender. For those who were a little more familiar, there were still some great gems brought up in conversation.
I think Josie’s open and honest style really helped solidify how normal it can be to be trans. Josie going into detail about real trans-related situations so casually and self-assuredly was eye-opening and inspiring.
Rebecca explained the basics of gender, and touched on the tougher side of being trans. I felt this to be often sad but important to discuss, particularly for those who don’t know how difficult it can be.
Suellen brought her unique perspective being visible emotional support of a transgender woman. This showed courage and kindness on her part, and the transgender community could use more allies like her.
As someone who is questioning their gender, the get-together for the Transgender Day of Visibility was particularly touching and felt close to home for me. In particular, Josie’s calm and matter-of-fact demeanor with respect to being trans showed that transitioning is not only something that can be overcome, but that she came out on the other side a better, healthier person. She made it obvious that being trans was an important part of her life, but that it did not define her.
I recommend any and all to attend the next time it rolls around, it was a great experience.”
-Phil Novak, questioning
“To learn how to be an effective ally to the transgender people in our lives, it is essential we learn what it means to be transgender and what challenges this community faces.
One of the best ways to do this is to have meaningful and respectful conversations with members of the transgender community to learn about their experiences first hand.
The recent seminar and question and answer session hosted by Spectrum on Transgender Day of Visibility is a great example of just such a conversation. I appreciate the willingness of those who participated to share their stories.
The most important thing I learned that afternoon is there is no way to be a perfect ally, but it’s crucial to keep trying, to do our best and to always be respectful in doing so. I look forward to more of these conversations in the future.”
-Lisa Durham, ally
“The Transgender Day of Visibility presentation was an excellent opportunity for the Argonne community to hear about transgender experiences from several perspectives. One of the most positive takeaways was that the speakers had found Argonne’s environment to be very supportive.
Hearing the speakers express the range of responses of their families, from support and sensitivity to complete rejection, was a very powerful part of the presentation, as was their recounting of periods of deep depression and suicide attempts. The insights shared by the parent of a transgender person was valuable in presenting the journey of a transgender person from a perspective that complemented the perspectives of the transgender speakers.
It’s great to see Argonne care enough about all employees to hold an event like the Transgender Day of Visibility that gives cisgender staff the opportunity to become better educated about, and more sensitive to, the experiences of their transgender colleagues.”
-Laural Briggs, attendee