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Hoping to raise awareness and promote tolerance and support when it comes to gender identities and definitions, the Center for
Diversity and Unity at Weber State University is hosting two interactive workshops focused on transgender awareness. The first workshop, Transgender Awareness Training 101, took place Friday afternoon from 12-4 p.m. in the Center for Diversity and Unity.
Brianne Blanchard, community educator with the Utah Pride Center, led the workshop and used group discussions and self-assessments to engage attendants with the topic.
“My goal with any training is basically to take it from an expectation that we’re going to learn about transgender or gay people as this ‘other,’ and learn about our own gender and our own sexuality and learn about the ways in which that might influence us,” Blanchard said.
The Center for Diversity and Unity hosted the training to help educate the WSU community about issues surrounding transgender individuals, said Megan Gour, assistant to the director with the CDU.
“November is Transgender Awareness Month; most people don’t actually know that,” Gour said. “We just wanted to, at the Center for Diversity, bring in some education about transgender people, because we know it’s something that’s not talked a lot about in our community at Weber. We wanted to just bring some general education to people.”
Thea, a sophomore studying journalism, attended the workshop and said it was a great experience for her.
“This was my first meeting,” Thea said. “I used to be scared to come. Recently I just came out of the closet and it didn’t go so well.”
Thea said that, in a sense, she feels she’s lost a lot of support by coming out of the closet.
“I still haven’t told my church. My mom still wants to keep it on the down-low, in a way, but I don’t think my sexuality will interfere with my religious views anyway.”
She said the workshop was great because she felt like she wasn’t being judged and she was able to identify with people going through similar issues.
“(People) keep trying to talk to me about what’s going on, just telling me I’m confused — I’m not this way, I’m not that way…,” Thea said. ”But (it’s great) to actually come and experience and talk with people who actually know what they’re talking about and went through it, to be in a place where nobody’s judging you.”
Kelsey Capoferri, Stop the Hate chair for the CDU, said the workshop was an educational experience for her and especially relevant for WSU.
“Weber State is slowly becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community,” Capoferri said. “So to have a Trans 101 training, it just . . . opens things up to making it more of an accepting community, just opens everyone’s eyes.”
Blanchard elaborated on the training’s importance, saying people need to think about these issues more.
“I think we don’t realize how affected by these topics we all are,” she said. “I think most of us don’t realize that we know gay people, we know trans people; we just might not know that we know them as that. So the more that we can spread that word, I think it’s a really important step along a greater process of understanding our place in it and how we can be better as a humanity to each other.”
The next workshop, Transgender Awareness Training 201, will take place Friday, Nov. 16 from 2-4 p.m., also in the CDU, Room 232 in the Shepherd Union Building. Students can RSVP to attend with the CDU. Blanchard said many other resources are available for those seeking information or support at www.utahpridecenter.org.