Motivational speaker and transgender activist Dexter Davis spoke at the Carole Weinstein International Center on March 31 to celebrate transgender day of visibility.
The luncheon was coordinated by Casey Butler, associate director of LGBTQ+ campus life, who wanted the event to center on trans joy and give people insight into the trans experience, they said.
“We expose folks on this campus to trans people, to trans narratives, to trans liberation and trans joy and all of these amazing things that trans people offer our society and our communities,” Butler said.“To really get folks to see that trans is beautiful, trans is awesome. And we want to celebrate that on our campus, not just on March 31, but every day of the year.”
First-year Jasmine Khatcheressian opened the event and spoke about her time being an out trans woman at UR.
Khatcheressian was scared when she got to UR because a paperwork issue caused her to be paired with a male roommate and put in Richmond College, she said.
“My university email had my dead name. I was rooming with men. I was in the male college,” Khatcheressian said. “By the end of the second day, I was ready to accept that this just was going to be what college was for me.”
Through the help of her orientation advisors, deans and friends, Khatcheressian found a new dorm and switched to Westhampton college. It took another three weeks for Khatcheressian to meet another student who identified as trans, which is why she believes trans visibility is important, she said.
“Even though I was in an environment that wanted to accept me, I had no idea because it wasn't until the third week of school that I met another student who identified as anything other than cisgender,” Khatcheressian said.
To Khatcheressian, trans visibility is not just about making trans people feel safe, but also about building bridges between people who would have never talked before, she said.
Ashley Buffey, assistant director of operations for the office of equity and inclusion, said that Khatcheressian’s talk was greatly impactful.
“Hearing her story, and the fact that she's a first-year student is just so inspiring and exciting for me to know that she's part of this community,” Buffey said. “It makes me really excited to see what she's gonna accomplish.”
Davis, an advocate for trans rights, starting a support group for black trans men and sharing his story. He spoke after Khatcheressian, highlighting what it means to be trans and what he and others can do to help the community.
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Davis spoke about finding his trans identity at Ithaca College when a friend asked him bluntly but kindly, “ever think you might be trans?” Davis started his transition later that year and since then has advocated for the rights of his community, he said.
Trans visibility is about helping trans people find themselves, Davis said.
“I really want to see spaces emphasize the individual and help trans individuals find themselves. My transition is a vehicle to me finding myself,” Davis said. “It's not the destination. It's not the end of the journey. It's just one part of how I'm getting there.”
Sophomore Carmen Ovalle said she wished there were more of these types of events in her home state.
“I have people come back home that are trans and I wish that they could hear this,” Ovalle said. “Because it was a privilege, these events are so welcoming, but it just makes me think about all the people from where I'm from, and how they don't have the same empowerment.”
Contact news writer Andrea Padilla at firstname.lastname@example.org
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