The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE symposium explores gender struggle

by Larriane Lee/reporter

Members of the LGBTQ community account for 30 percent of all suicides, a NE psychology instructor told NE students March 19.

Karen Fisler opened the Social Sciences Symposium: Who Am I Explorations in Gender and Sexuality, presented by the NE psychology and sociology departments, with that statistic.

Sociology instructor Carolyn Benson read questions from the audience to the panelists of in-transition individuals and experts.

“No one should be discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity or their perception preferences in terms of marriage rights and employment rights,” said NW psychology instructor Jay Green when asked if people in the LGBT community deserved protected status.

Rachel Carr from DFW TG Ladies addressed present legislation.

“There really is no overall protection for LGBT people,” she said. “There is no federal legislation for LGBT people to protect them from employment discrimination or accommodation. The city of Fort Worth several years ago passed an ordinance which basically banned that kind of discrimination within Fort Worth, and Plano just recently did that, but the current state Legislature is actually considering to eliminate those local ordinances that they say should be state-controlled instead of local-controlled.”

Student Blake Shannahan, 24, said another student tried to get him expelled from TCC last fall. He said his dad and stepmom do not support him. It was not until he turned 17 that he met his birth mom, who willingly embraced it and, therefore, was his only support.

Benson asked how he handles mistreatment from others especially about his status or his partners.

“I confront them straight up about it — giving them facts about it or just going on,” he said. “There’s not much I can change a certain person’s mind besides just hitting the facts on them. I’m as much of a person as you are, so what makes you any different from me.”

Shannahan also spoke of how far more accepting college is to him than when he was in high school.

“I came out in 2005,” he said. “Back in high school, I was constantly bullied. I was gay-bashed on a bus, and no one did anything to stop it. Like I said earlier, I had a kid trying to protest me out of TCC, but other than that, it’s been amazing.”

Houston drag queen, Sean Kivi, 25, who works full time as a third-grade teacher and part time as a sign language interpreter, sees cross-dressing as a hobby and not of fetishism.

“For me, this is purely an art form,” he said. “I do it because people enjoy it. I do it because it’s fun. It’s just an art form. Painting is art and can be considered a hobby.”

Student Rhonda Chambers attended because her sociology professor offered extra credit for doing so.

“He made me aware of the situation,” she said. “I want to understand, appreciate and respect others. I don’t think anyone should be mistreated or discriminated against.”

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