Almost 23 residents attended a virtual workshop on June 22 on trans assertiveness practices, co-sponsored by board members Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, and Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward.
The workshop covered topics such as the use of pronouns, intersectionality, terminology, the history and context of transphobic systems, “outing” and coming out. Many parents and grandparents who wanted to better support their LGBTQ + children or grandchildren attended the free workshop.
Ms Fleming said the workshop was part of the Ninth Ward’s Building Community summer series, which includes free yoga classes, live music and community gatherings.
“Building community means recognizing, understanding and valuing all the diversity that community brings,” said Ms. Fleming.
Praxis Group, an LGBTQ + consultancy in Chicago, facilitated the event, and Praxis Group co-founder Jes Scheinpflug led the workshop, which was only accessible to residents of 6th and 9th neighborhoods. Given the high level of interest, Scheinpflug hopes that other Council members will bring these workshops to their neighborhoods.
The trans assertiveness workshop began with an introduction to cultural humility, and continued by exploring how learning to be assertive is a lifelong commitment. Scheinpflug discussed pronouns and why pronoun introductions are important. Assistants were then sent to breakout rooms to practice introducing themselves with their pronouns and correcting themselves after using incorrect pronouns.
The workshop also covered intersectionality, sex and gender discrimination and the suicide rate within the trans community, which is 41%. Trans and non-binary youth who are respected by most people in their lives are 50% less likely to attempt suicide, according to the Trevor Project. Reflecting on this statistic, Scheinpflug said the disparity suggests the importance of supporting trans and non-binary youth.
Participants learned the difference between an individual’s gender identity – the gender they identify with – and the sex assigned to them at birth. Scheinpflug also explained how these terms differ from sexual orientation, which refers to a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction. Discussing terminology, Scheinpflug stressed that being a supportive ally is not about memorizing words, but rather knowing how to ask the right questions.
In another exercise, assistants were asked to make assumptions about Scheinpflug’s gender, and whether they presented themselves with more traditionally feminine manners, dress choices and behaviors, or if they presented themselves in a more traditional way. more masculine. The range of responses highlighted for participants that the assumptions people make on a daily basis are influenced by their own understanding of gender, which differs greatly from individual to individual.
The workshop ended with questions from participants. “Most of the people there had a loved one in their life that they had specific questions about,” Scheinpflug said. “We talked about trying to make the place as safe as possible, knowing that no one can guarantee someone else’s safety.”
Ms Fleming said residents she spoke to after the workshop said they had benefited from it and would like a second workshop. She said she paid for the workshop out of pocket and was unsure if she would be hosting another workshop due to the expense. But she hopes city staff and city council run more LGBTQ + affirming programs.
“I hope the town of Evanston does a bit more education and advocacy,” Scheinpflug added. “I don’t see much for the trans community.”