For the past five years, Red Rocks Community College has celebrated the Transgender Day of Remembrance with some type of panel and sometimes an accompanying film. Each year, the panel simply amazes me, making me stand in awe of the courage and sense of self that transgender people display. And each year I am reminded that I get to learn from the panel. This year was no different, and again, all the credit goes to the students who organized the panel.
The panel was preceded by a short 20 minute film produced by PFLAG of Boulder called Faces and Facets. Watching the film brought back memories of past panels, since many in the film had also been on a previous year's panel (e.g. Matt Kailey, Eden Lane, and Nicole Garcia). Following the film, two RRCC students, one student from a local community college, and a co-director of trans programming at The Center shared stories about living authentically as a transgendered person. Rather than concentrating on all the violence and hatred transgendered people face regularly, the panel chose to focus on more of a celebration of who they are, emphasizing how their journey is an ongoing pursuit of being as authentically themselves as they can possibly be.
And what struck me throughout was how proud they stood, just telling their stories, trusting that everyone before them (some fellow students in their class that had never heard their story, an administrator that never fully knew the challenges they face, and a supervisor who constantly mixes up pronouns when referring to a particular student listened to the student explain how that felt) would hear and really get their message about what it means to be transgendered, what it means to get to embrace their authentic self.
I am totally in awe of their trust to come out in front of so many people all at once--people they will see again in their classrooms perhaps looking at them differently, people they will pass in the hallway, and people they will see again as allies, fighting when their voices don't have access.