Camosun students bring gender identity to the fore

Series of public workshops focused on understanding trans-identity and the rights of self-identification

When Daphne Crossman was in high school, she endured daily bullying and hid her gender identity. She allowed her peers to assume she was a gay man over fear that the torment she was subjected to would worsen if her bullies knew her desire to live as a woman.

When she began her studies at Camosun College, Crossman didn’t hesitate to stand before her new classmates and introduce herself as a transexual.

“I feel like I have the ability to be that person, so I have to fulfill that role,” Crossman said of her openness and desire to educate others on trans-identity.

Now the director of Camosun Pride, Crossman is co-organizer and lecturer for a series of public workshops focused on understanding trans-identity and the rights of self-identification. The sessions began on Nov. 2 and run through Nov. 16. Among the topics tackled are social etiquette in the scope of gender, pioneers in trans-identity and medicalization.

Crossman hopes those currently questioning their own gender identities will participate in the discussion and benefit from some of the resources she has collected through her own experiences.

“I’d also like to see the parents of people with gendering questions and trans-identities come out and learn about gender expression and gender identity (as well as) the general public to give them the tools to be able to create an era of acceptance, love and compassion for trans people in Canadian society.”

Co-organizer Mindy Jiang was pleased with the general turnout on Nov. 2, but would like to see more students from the college and university attend.

“What I find is that not too many people know what’s going on in their school let alone their community,” said Jiang, co-president of event sponsors, the Camosun College Medical Society.

“New ideas are being formed in how we treat each other, not only in the community, but in healthcare because unfortunately not all physicians are equipped to deal with (trans-identity) situations with their patients.”

Jiang is motivated by the re-introduction of Bill C-279, which aims to add the rights of transgendered people to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the recent purple letter campaign. The campaign, which ended Oct. 20, saw students from across B.C. lobby the MInistry of Education for a province-wide policy to protect students and end discrimination based on sexual orientations or gender identities.

“Our door to the Pride Lounge (in Richmond House of Camosun’s Lansdowne campus) is always open if people want to come in and ask questions,” Jiang said, adding that other resources in the community, such as the Island Sexual Health Society, are also available for those who’d like to educate themselves further.

The workshops continue at 6 p.m. tonight (Nov. 9) and Nov. 16 in the room 310 of the college’s Young building. Admission is $5 at the door or free with a donation of socks to support the Medical Society’s sock drive.

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