In front of a class in a skirt
Actually the only one in the room in a skirt most of the time!
This was the third time I have done this, as part of the university of Michigan office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs speakers’ bureau. Speaking in front of a group of students we have been warned by the teacher that this can be a very difficult and closed minded group. They were! But we were prepared to deal with them.
I had heard of the speakers’ bureau through a calendar of gender events in Michigan, they were asking for volunteers and at the time I was not able to participate in the training program, a two day commitment. I was however able to do it in January.
The training was 10 hours a day Saturday and Sunday, and jammed from the first minute to the last, with breaks for lunch, and this was done as Sandra. Covered were sections on speech in a non confrontational way (this is potentially very volatile), and a familiarization as to the issues of each group GLBT.
There were a number of reasons I wanted to do this one was to gain experience in this sort of situation as I am part of an outreach to churches and seminaries under Tri-Ess and anticipate being in front of students in a seminary. And the other reason was to increase my knowledge of the other letters we seem to be tied with GL&B.
The training was very through and part of that was to come up with our “coming out story”. This needs a bit of explanation, a coming out story is not a particular event but the process we go through as we come to grips with who and what we are, really a life time process.
These have to be five minutes long, try and condense your life into five minutes its tough! We then practiced these on each other and I have to tell you this is the way you get to know some one really well! When we had practiced our stories to most of our fellow participants we started practicing as a panel with the format they have developed. This included the question and answer period that follows a presentation with questions that have actually been asked by students. Of course they chose some of the hardest ones to fire at us, and yes some of them have come up in a class situation!
What have I gotten out of this? For one thing, some new friends and an understanding that their stories are in many cases very similar to ours. One of the opening exercises during training was an icebreaker sort of musical chair, with one seat less than the group number, the person left standing posed a question that every one that had done what ever it was to get up and take another seat. This ran the gamut from rock climbing to! My question was how many of you felt alone growing up. Everyone got up and a mad scramble ensued. I have asked this of some of the classes I have done presentations in and it is now part of my coming out story. I will only occasionally get a couple of hands.
The three of us that were T* were warned that we would get most of the questions and that has proven to be true. I have enjoyed seeing the expressions of the students and teachers, and was thanked by one teacher for dressing as a woman. Part of the program is a written evaluation what did you learn, what do we need to do differently sorts of things. I get most of the comments and a large number of them are that I am the first CD they have seen. I am also the first CD involved in the program which is thirty years old.
Long over up date 7/4/05
By this time I have done over fifty presentations to classes and it has been very worthwhile. Part of the process is a questionnaire that the students fill out with the sorts of questions
Like what three things did you find out and I will always get more than 50% saying I did not know you could be heterosexual and transgender.
Recently I have been doing more solo presentations one to Heidelberg College, three masters classes merged for a three hour session and I did a bout a half hour formal presentation and the other two and a half hours were Q&A. They made me work hard to find answers. I will be doing a Social Work Action Alliance presentation on legal and oppression issues at the end of the month, should be an interesting experience.