KFA and Pride Kwantlen Host Panel, Screening of The T Word, in Surrey
Culture / December 9, 2016
Both film and panel discuss societal issues facing transgender people
Pride Kwantlen and the Kwantlen Faculty Association hosted Queer Voices @ KPU on the Surrey campus on Nov. 24. The event featured a screening of an MTV documentary entitled The “T” Word produced by actress Laverne Cox, as well as an informal Q&A discussion with panel members from the LGBTQ2S+ community.
The “T” Word follows seven transgender youths, with ages ranging from 12 to 24, and reveals the hardships they face while learning to identify as their authentic selves. After the screening, audience members were invited to ask questions—either written anonymously or spoken—to the panel members. Questions were asked about community resources, health care and surgery, personal stories of transitions, body image, and the role of gender in society.
One subject followed in the documentary was a 24-year-old athlete, Kye. Kye was the first Division One transgendered basketball player, but at home, Kye’s mother struggled to see Kye as her son. Despite this tension, Kye recognized that his relationship with his mother “supersedes pronouns,” and the two maintain regular communication.
The evening’s panel began with a speech by Gayle Roberts—a retired high school physics teacher and trans woman—who went through her transition nearly 20 years ago with nothing but support from the Vancouver School Board. When Roberts was young, the term “trans” hadn’t yet been adopted, and with the discussion of gender identity yet to be accepted, Roberts was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder from some internal trauma.
“I grew up feeling that, because I was a boy in the physical sense, my feelings around that should be congruent with the fact that my body was that of a boy. And because I didn’t feel that way, I felt shame,” says Roberts. “I grew up in a society where if you were homosexual, transsexual, whatever—that was a shameful thing to be.”
Despite the turmoil of her younger years, Roberts has been able to overcome those feelings of shame imposed upon her. “I guess it was when I started to realize people have a core gender identity…I think that awareness enabled me to reach happiness, because if my gender identity is female, which it is, then everything else drops into place for me,” she says.
Another panelist, gender diversity consultant for TransFamily Services B.C., Lukas Walther, discussed the importance of understanding the needs of trans youth.
“One of the concerns is to make sure that a kid isn’t put on hormones just because they know they’re trans,” says Walther. “It’s so crucial to find out what that means to the kid. To some kids, it may just mean being gender fluid and being part of the social movement.”
“It’s absolutely acceptable to be trans and not take hormones or surgeries. It doesn’t mean that you’re less trans. You’re [just] that kind of trans.”
Lucas Wilson, a trans man and health navigator for Trans Care B.C., spoke about his experience and thoughts surrounding his journey towards becoming the person he is today.
“I know, for myself, it was something I certainly had doubts about and thought, ‘What if I do this and nobody loves me?’ but that was the source of regret. It was like, ‘What if I do this and am ostracized forever and I’m never happy?’”
“It was something I knew I had to do,” says Wilson. “It turned me into a person who could thrive.”
For Tanya Boboricken, the KFA LGBTQ2S+ representative, hosting events such as Queer Voices @ KPU is inspiring and affirming.
“I find it valuable for the community, for the faculty, staff, and students to learn more and to humanize trans individuals, to see that, really, we’re all human beings and we all have things that we’re going through.”