Day of Remembrance - Open Forum Regarding Transgender
and Other Violent Prejudices
November 20, 2010, is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Day of Remembrance events will be held around the world, including at Samuel Merritt University (SMU). To honor and bring awareness to the problem of anti-transgender violence, the University will be hosting the second workshop in the series of health promotion educational programs for the "Gender Bending (GB)" or "Gender-Non-Conforming" community on Thursday, November 18. The evening event will bring attention to bullying based on gender identity/sexual identity and other prejudices. In recent months teenage bullying and recent suicides has not only caught media attention, but have shaken schools and universities across the country.
"Transgender Day of Remembrance is an important opportunity for SMU and the surrounding community to raise awareness about gender identity/expression," explains Cecily Cosby, PhD, professor in the School of Nursing (SoN). "This day is also a chance to pause and reflect on the bullying, harassment and violence many transgender people have faced in schools and society. Without greater leadership and commitment to addressing anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] bias and behavior, we likely have a long way to go before we see significant change."
Dr. Cosby, who will be facilitating this open forum for dialog, has worked with more than 300 gender variant clients and other disenfranchised populations over the years. It's from the comments and experiences she has gathered from the GB community throughout the years that she created the quarterly educational workshops. Meetings address critical health issues that would educate, inform, and support the LGBT communities, such as harm reduction information and the medical and psychosocial needs of the transgender population.
At this community forum, SMU faculty and students will discuss problems related to hate crimes, intolerance related to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicities, and even religion. According to Dr. Cosby, the evening event will allow people to have an open dialogue regarding individual and collective experiences in a small and safe group setting. "It's meant to inspire and encourage Samuel Merritt University students, faculty, and staff to come out and share their stories with others. It's also an opportunity to remember those who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation."
It's this type of open-communication that inspired Lorena Martinez, a transgender living in the East Bay, to attend the "Pumping, What all the Fuss" educational event that was held last August. "Meetings like this help transgender men and women like me become a valued part of the community and workforce," said Martinez. "It helps me to develop new skills and gain self-esteem. I wish I had this kind of support and understanding when I was younger. It was difficult for me when I was in school."
According to the 2009 National School Climate Survey, 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at a middle and/or high school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Nearly a third of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns. These students who have experienced high levels of assault are less likely to say that they plan to go to college, have lower educational aspirations, poorer academic performances, and a lower sense of belonging to the community.
"The needs of the transgender community are a priority for Healthy People 2010 and this program will establish SMU as a leader in the area of advancing access and quality care for this underserved population and supports diversity tolerance," said Dr. Cosby.
The November 18 event will be held at SMU's Oakland campus in the Health Education Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. The educational programs will be combined with group support sessions that would be offered for open discussion and exploration of participant concerns in an effort to create a safe, confidential, and meaningful dialogue and a sense of community.
For more information about the educational series or to make reservations to attend the Transgender Day of Remembrance workshop, please contact Dr. Cosby at 510 869-6634 or email@example.com .
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