TransGriot Note: This is the article that appeared in today's Bi-College News, the student newspaper for Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.
I had a great time talking to Kaori, who is an exchange student at Bryn Mawr from Japan majoring in journalism. We had an interesting discussion pre-interview about the developments for transpeople in Japan. Once again, deep appreciation for the invite and all the hard work that went toward making my visit as smooth as possible. I'm glad to hear that the students on campus enjoyed the speech and the discussion afterward.
Bi-College News (Bryn Mawr & Haverford Colleges), PA, USA
By Kaori Hatama
Monica Roberts, writer of the blog TransGriot, gave a lecture at Bryn Mawr Tuesday about transgender issues from an African-American perspective.
Roberts, 47, was the third African-American transperson to receive International Foundation for Gender Education Trinity Award in 2006, the "second highest honor” award in the transgender community.
“I’m not just any old blogger,” Roberts said. “I have been a witness to and a chronicler of transgender history.”
Roberts’ blog, TransGriot, contains “news, opinion, commentary [and] history” about the world from her point of view.
“Trans people of color do face higher violence than the Caucasian trans people," said Nicole Matos ‘10, head of the Women’s Center and the organizer of this lecture. "[It] has not been spoken [about] a lot on this campus, so I thought it great to invite a trans activist of color on to campus. I first thought of Monica Roberts because I am a big fan of her blog TransGriot.”
Roberts talked about the history and the people that had not been discussed in GLBT circles—mainly black trans people.
She said the attention to black trans people has been ignored by the mainstream media until recently and explained how hard it was for her to find a role model as an African-American trans person in the 1970s.
“Our problems as African-American trans people mirror those of our parent society," she said. "The only thing tougher than being a black man or black women in this society is being a black man or a black woman in this society with a mismatched body.”
“It was interesting that there is a microcosm of U.S. society in this trans gender community,” said Michelle Smith ’12 who attended because she is part of The Women’s Center and a columnist on gender and sexuality for the college news.
“Like in the gay community, the figurehead [in the trans community] is white, upper middle class, male cisgendered but gay,” she commented.
However, Roberts also pointed out recent positive developments in the black trans community.
“We’re finding more acceptance among our families, ciswomen and fellow
African-descended people,” she said.
She thinks her TransGriot blog and other blogs like hers have been succeeding in revealing the myths and lies that had been prevailing wisdom.
“I really enjoyed it," said Christine Head ‘11. "It was refreshing to hear that perspective and I liked the fact that she was really earnest about everything.”
Head, who is a CDA, attended the lecture because she felt minority issues such as differences in race, socioeconomic status or gender identity are forgotten in general Bryn Mawr dialogue.
“Basically, we are human beings too. That is the major lesson that I wanted to impart. Not just for them [students], but to everybody they come [in] contact with. For instance, when they are in a one-on-one conversation with someone who is making derogatory comments, hopefully they would take some of what I pointed out in the lecture and go ‘Hey that’s not the case,’” Roberts said.
After her lecture, there were some time for questions.
“There are some brilliant young minds that are matriculating on this campus that [they] are going to do some great things,” Roberts said.
“The fact that they are broadening their minds by taking the time out of their busy schedules to listen to our stories and listen to our issues really gives me great hope for the future.”
Copyright © 2008 The Bi-College News Online. All rights reserved.
Posted By eheld On October 28, 2009 @ 12:29 am In News