Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Still Reaching Out En Femme

Yesterday, I described how I became involved with outreach, that is, the process of educating the civilian population about the trans community.

Today, I will describe a typical outreach session (like the ones I have been involved with at local colleges and universities).

During the past five years, I have participated in outreaches where there was only one other person doing outreach with me and at the other extreme, with as many as ten other people, but on the average, there are about five and they usually represent a good cross-section of the trans community, that is, pre-op, post-op, no-op, male-to-female, female-to-male, etc.

When we walk into the classroom, most eyes are on us. In my the back of my mind, I think that some of the students are expecting us to look like refugees from The Jerry Springer Show (see photo). We are far from that and that is part of their education.

At every outreach I have experienced, there are always comments from students that they were surprised how average we all were, that is, average in a good way. We were not freaks --- we were just like them.

Usually the session starts with each of us presenting a short biography with emphasis on being trans. Then, the students ask us pertinent questions.

Some questions are "deeper" than others.

At one end of the spectrum are questions like "How did you choose your female name?" or "How did you learn to walk so well in high heels?"

At the other end of the spectrum are questions like "Are you happy with your male body image?" or "You dress so attractively; are you trying to attract a man or a woman?"

Sometimes I find the questions amusing like the following exchange:

Student A, "Are You married?"

Me, "Yes."

Student B, "Are you married... to a woman?"

Me, "Yes, again."

Which brings up another revelation about trans people that every outreach I have experienced encounters: that we are not necessarily gay. Going in, most of the students believe that all trans people are gay, but they go away from our sessions with the knowledge that being trans does not mean that you are also gay.

Outreach is a rewarding experience. The reward is that it gives me the opportunity to spread the truth. Hopefully, the students we reach out to learn the truth and maybe spread the word to their friends and family. And maybe someday, this slow domino effect will result in a society that has an open-mind about its transgender brothers and sisters.


  1. I admire you greatly. Your blog has done much for my quality of life. I visit daily and sometimes more. I like to spend time visiting the archive and see what I missed before I met you here
    Love alaways

  2. Just for the record, I'm not sure I know what "gay" is from a T point of view. It's pretty clear that nothing about T is very hetero-normative, though.

  3. I really, really admire your outreach work, Stana! The more crossdressers and transgendered people of all kinds who are willing to step out of the closet, the less prejudice there will be. It's hard to hate members of a group once you've met them on a one-on-one basis. Thanks for being such a great ambassador!

  4. What a lovely picture!