Monday, March 26, 2012

Presentations at the University of Nebraska at Kearney

My partner T  and I will be presenting a couple workshops sponsored by the Queer Straight Alliance and the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, my alma mater.  We're really excited to be able to meet some folks and have some interesting conversations.  I'll also be presenting a workshop about leadership at the Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference, a conference for high school students held at UNK and organized by members of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.  I was once the speakers coordinator for the NCUC, so I'm pretty excited about being able to be a part of their tenth-anniversary celebration.

In the coming days, I'll be posting supplemental information from these presentations at the links below:

For Attendees from 3/29/2012 

What does the Bible say about LGBTQ people?

Short Link:

For Attendees from 3/29/2012

Transgender and Gender Variance 101

Short Link:

For NCUC Participants: 3/30/2012

Bullying, Bold Leadership, and How it Gets Better

Short Link:

Short Link to this page:

Bullying, Bold Leadership, and How it Gets Better

Workshop for high school students attending the 10th Annual Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference
Friday, March 30, 2012, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM and 3:00-4:00 PM
Sisler Room, Student Affairs Building
University of Nebraska at Kearney

Workshop Content/Notes

NCUC Workshop Slides

PDF Version of the Power Point Presentation

NCUC Workshop Notes Version

A notes version of the presentation

Videos from the Workshop

Paul/Brin - It Gets Better

A bigendered person talks about how they were teased when they were younger but how life does get better.  They also highlight the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization at the end of the video.


Group of Guys - It Gets Better

Four guys tell a bit about their stories.  We watched the first guy's story about his fear of losing everything when coming out.  He also describes his suicide attempt.


EricJames Borges - It Gets Better

EricJames describes the very difficult time he had after coming out.  His story ended in tragedy, but the hope he describes here is real.  Call the Trevor Project at 866 488 7386 if you need to talk to someone.


Desmond Tutu Speech

I showed you a very small portion of this video.  Be sure to watch 16:20-19:27.


Other Resources

Bullying: Tips for Students | Teaching Tolerance

This is just a short list of tips for students who encounter bullying--whether as a bystander or a victim. 

Home |

This governmental website offers information on various types bullying and what to do to prevent it in when you witness it. USA for teens

This site provides information and help about mental health issues such as being bullied, low self esteem, committing suicide and cutting yourself.  It also has tips for those who want to be able to reach out to all kinds of people and be a safe person and a good friend.

Nebraska School Safety Center | Bullying Prevention

Resource page specific to Nebraska and Nebraska state laws.

Teens Against Bullying - Home

This site is really user-friendly and offers basic information on what to do if you're bullied and how you can work to end bullying at your school. 

About Beyond Bullies | Beyond Bullies

A website that offers real-time support to teens who are or have been bullied.  Sign up for support or to be an online volunteer. 

Make it Better Nebraska YouTube Channel

A YouTube Channel of Nebraskans sharing what they do to try to make it better.  For an example, see this video from Carlos.


Erica Chu -

Short Link to this page:

See notes from other presentations about the Bible and about Transgender identities (at UNK in March 2012). 

Transgender and Gender Variance 101

Free and open to the public
Thursday, March 29, 2012, 8:00-9:15 PM
Room 310, Nebraska Student Union
University of Nebraska at Kearney


Presentation Content

LGBTQ-related terminology

These are the terms we went over during the workshop.

Gender Variance 101 Notes

The notes Erica used when leading the discussion

Presenter Bios

Information about T's and Erica's experience and expertise 

Affirming Gender Variance: Names and Pronouns

A blog post mentioned during the workshop that is particularly useful to educators, but with principles useful for RAs, student groups, therapists, and those in social services.


Keep in mind that each person negotiates their own understandings of what gender means, so take each perspective (including ours) with a grain of sand.  It's better to never assume anything about a person's identity, but doing so is often very difficult.  So the most important thing is just to always be open to learning about other perspectives.  We hope these resources offer you an introduction to what you can learn about the many many perspectives out there on gender.


The post you are reading is a part of this blog, and it also contains brief articles written by Erica Chu over the past few years.  Use the search tool in the upper right corner, or click on one of the labels in the tag cloud.  Be sure to explore tips on being an ally as well as this letter written to a recently murdered transwoman.  Also noteworthy are "7 Things to Consider When Coming Out (as Anything)" and "The Joy of Unknowing."


Professional Transgender Resource Network

Providers working toward higher understanding and commitment to the transgender and transsexual communities in Nebraska.



I know, it sounds too simple, but I'm telling you, there are A LOT of gender variant people on YouTube who either post single videos or develop whole channels dedicated to their identities and transitions, or they collaborate and create channels on particular things such as MTF or FTM, trans allies, genderqueer, African American transgender, Latino transgender, the list goes on and on.  Simply search for videos based on your interest.  Some channels of note: Nebraskan Ryan Sallan's channel, FTM Kickstart, uppercaseCHASE1, laidbaqq, tiresianphoenix, Grishno, and BrinConvenient.


Transgender Day of Visibility

A great idea for an event on Campus.  Be sure to ask trans allies to be visible too!


Transgender Day or Remembrance

Because the gender variant community is so often subject to violence and criminalization, these days of remembrance are important for mourning but also educating others about the consequences of cissexism.


Gender Nonconformity Fact Sheet

Created by the folks over at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, this fact sheet is a great resource for getting down the basics of gender variance.  This source is geared toward educators, parents, and youth.


TYRA (Trans Youth Resources and Advocacy)

If you're in Illinois, this organization is a great resource, but this post should prove helpful for those who live in other areas



This television series follows a few gender variant individuals as they go through physical transitions as well as the major transition of attending college for the first time. See this link for possible streaming through YouTube.

Cruel and Unusual

This film tells the stories of transgender women forced to serve time in all-male prisons, where they are treated poorly, their medical needs are often ignored, and they are very often subject to physical and sexual abuse.  See also this link for possible streaming on YouTube.

Venus Boyz (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

This film focuses on the individuals who perform in a drag show one particular night in New York City.  These individuals have a variety of gender identities and expressions, and come from a variety of ethnic, racial, national, and age groups.  This is one of our favorite films on gender variance.

Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She

This film explores the many different ways people are gender variant and is brutally honest in its revelation of the difficulty individuals and families face.  See also this link for possible streaming on YouTube.

Paris is Burning (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

This very famous documentary sheds light on the drag ball scene in NYC in the late 1980s.  For many people, this film was their first introduction to the lives of gender variant people.

The Aggressives (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

This film addresses a subgroup known loosely as "aggressives."  These gender variant folks are not transgender in the typical narrative, and their stories shed light on the variety of ways one can experience and express gender.

Southern Comfort

This film centers on a transman who is dying of ovarian cancer.  His illness was allowed to become more and more severe despite his efforts to seek treatment.  Twelve doctors turned him away, fearing marring their reputation with such an "unusual" case.

Transmen (Available for Free Online Streaming)

A documentary film made on a pretty low budget but with surprising quality.  Follow the stories of three transmen and learn about their journeys living in one of the most conservative states for transgender rights. Watch all 5 parts on YouTube at the link above.

Almost Myself

A filmmaker learns about transwomen and some of their doubly unconventional gender journeys.

Red Without Blue (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

A documentary focuses on a set of identical twins dealing with their past as well as their changing future, which includes one of their genders.



Boys Don't Cry (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

Hilary Swank stars as Brandon Teena, a Nebraska teen who lives life, explores his sexuality, and eventually faces extreme violence for being transgender.  See also the documentary The Brandon Teena Story (also available on Netflix Instant Viewing)


A midwestern husband and father comes out as a trans woman, and their family deals with a very difficult but ultimately fulfilling transition.


A trans woman meets then gets to know her probable son on a road trip.

XXY (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

An intersexed teen explores their sexuality and the medicalization of their genetic status, which affects friends and family in this Spanish-language film.

Different for Girls (Available on Netflix Instant Viewing)

A woman falls in love with a former friend who initially doesn't realize he's met her before or that he's falling in love with a transgendered person.


There are just so many books out there about trans and gender variant identities.  I'll only mention a few, which offer either good introductions and/or compelling stories.

Gender Outlaw

Hands down, one of the best gender primers you'll ever read.  I don't particularly love the chapters dealing with the author's play and discussions of special spiritual attributes of gender outlaws, but you don't have to read those chapters if you don't want.  But do check it out.  She really breaks down what is what in a really accessible and entertaining way.

My Gender Workbook

Whether you are questioning your gender identity or you firmly identify as cis, trans, genderqueer, or something else, this is a useful book for exploring and reflecting on what gender means to you.  The process enables each of us to understand just how personal and even subject to change our gender identity and and gender expression are.

Transgender History

A primer on the history of trans people in the US.  The author writes a lot in academic-ese, but this is a very accessible book.


A collection of essays written about or by those who identify as genderqueer.

Intersex (For lack of a Better Word)

A fairly short book that is pieced together from the author's previously released zines.  The author comments on her discovery of her variant sexuality and gender, and how these discoveries affected how she interpreted herself and others.

Blog Posts

Genderqueer Chicago: How to be a Trans Ally!

A useful site that might serve as an inspiration for genderqueer or trans-spectrum groups.  This post in particular is useful as a starting point for rethinking what it means to be an ally to gender variant folks.

Things to Prepare before You Come Out

Not Another Aiden has an excellent site (yet what's wrong with being Aiden?!), but this post in particular is something we all need to take note of whether we are coming out or just want to be a safe person for others.

How to Be An Ally « Genderbitch: Musings of a Trans Chick

This blog post is really useful to get thinking about how you can be an ally--try to apply these principles to all aspects of identity.

Trans in the Red States

An interesting 2008 article in the American Prospect about gender variant people in rural communities.

End of Gender: (Miss) Universal Law

Article in Bitch Magazine about some of the implications of changing attitudes toward gender identity.

Non-cis image blogs

Want to try to train your brain to see gender in more than binary terms?  Check out these Tumblrs.  I joined Tumblr for this express purpose, and my mind has been opened up--especially how I see myself. Note, many of the images are not safe for work.

Video Clips

Gender Queer in the Midwest - YouTube

An activist talks about what its like to be genderqueer in Ohio and what can be done to help fight for progressive gender policies when it is not a popular idea.

Trans Children 20/20 My Secret Self Video's

Some footage from a 20/20 special on trans kids.

Contact Information

Erica Chu -
T Nowacki -

Short Link to this page:

See notes from other presentations at UNK in March 2012. 

What does the Bible say about LGBTQ people?

Free and open to the public
Thursday, March 29, 2012, 4:00-5:15PM
Room 142 in Copeland Hall
University of Nebraska at Kearney

Important Questions to Consider

  • Why am I so sure that my beliefs are correct?
  • Are things more complicated than I had previously thought?
  • Could I have been wrong all this time?
  • Could my faith tradition have gotten it wrong?
  • Could God be leading me in this very moment to change my outlook?
  • Could God be leading me in this very moment to take some kind of action?
  • Could God be leading me in this very moment to turn to him in a way that I have not done previously?

Content/Notes from Presentation

Erica Chu and T Nowacki Bios

Information about the presenters' education and experience

LGBTQs and Bible Presentation Slides 

A PDF version of the Power Point Presentation

LGBTQs and Bible Presentation Notes Version 

A notes version of the above.

Notes from Erica's Journey

A written narrative and notes about Erica's journey

Other Resources 

Keep in mind that none of these resources are perfectly in line with Erica's or T's beliefs, but they are useful for getting us thinking about what we believe and why, and how we might go about working out our faith even further.


The post you are reading is a part of this blog, and it also contains brief articles written by Erica Chu over the past few years.  Use the search tool in the upper right corner, or click on one of the labels in the tag cloud.  Be sure to look over this overview about LGBTQ-related terminology and explore tips on being an ally.  If interested, see also an essay on the joy of unknowing and this open letter to former friends/classmates from my conservative Bible college.

 - The Bible and Homosexuality 
 - Homosexuality and the Christian Scriptures
 - A brief description of the anti-gay clobber passages in the Hebrew Scriptures

The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches

A little encouragement for you (like Erica when she lived in Kearney) who can't fathom a place where you would be welcomed and accepted into church as a believer and assumed to be just as good of a Christian as a straight person.  They do exist, and remember that the world is so much bigger than what you have seen and heard of!



Save Me (Available on Netflix)

If you haven't seen this, you really have to!  Judith Light and Chad Allen star in this 2007 film that compassionately portrays multiple sides of the debate over reparative ("ex-gay") therapy.  The main character hits rock bottom while living a rough "gay lifestyle," and  a Christian leader attempts to help him and others find a better path.



For the Bible Tells Me So (Available on Netflix)

A documentary focusing on passages in the Bible and featuring interviews with various biblical experts and commentators

Fish Out of Water (available on Netflix)

Another documentary focusing on passages in the Bible, but featuring more interviews with LGBTQ people.  See also the film's takeaway handout, a simplified guide to the "clobber passages."


"I'm Christian, unless you're gay"

A blogger addresses the attitude fostered among Christians that excludes and judges rather than loves.  This post is not just about LGBTQ people.  Be sure to read a letter he received from a mother and her 15 year-old son months after the original post went viral.

The 'biblical view' that's younger than the Happy Meal

As much as Christians want to believe that their values are the same values that the apostles had, the cultures we create and build up over time affect our values and yes, even our tolerance of others who might also claim the titles Christian, Bible-believing, Spirit-led, reborn, Evangelical, or hopelessly devoted to Jesus.

Jennifer Knapp in Christianity Today

Jennifer Knapp, a popular Christian music artist known for her albums Kansas, Lay It Down, and The Way I Am, comes out through an interview in Christianity Today in 2010.

Video Clips

Desmond Tutu tells us about God's vision 

View starting at 16:19

A former recipient of reparative therapy offers encouragement

A transguy in seminary speaks out


Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age

From 1987, but still worth the read.  From Amazon: "In this award-winning text, theologian Sallie McFague challenges Christians' usual speech about God as a kind of monarch. She probes instead three other possible metaphors for God—as mother, lover, and friend."

Queering Christ: Beyond Jesus Acted Up

From Google Books: "Goss compiles a decade of his writing as a queer Christian theologian and shares his queering of four areas: sexuality, the Christ, the Bible, and theology, which form the quadrants of his own spirituality that aim at the queer reconstruction of Christianity and reflect a life that aims to integrate the depths of spirituality and sexuality with a practice of justice."

Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Spiritual Memoir

A memoir of a bisexual person exploring her identities.

Sex and the Church: Gender, Homosexuality, and the Transformation of Christian Ethics

From Amazon: "Sex and the Church is a groundbreaking book that brings lesbian and gay theory and experience to bear on questions of sexuality and its relationship to Christian life. Ethicist Kathy Rudy begins by showing how the Christian right's campaign for "family values" has profoundly shaped American debates about gender and sexuality, and how mainline Protestant denominations have responded by focusing narrowly on questions of inclusion and exclusion..."

Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology 

From the back cover: "Cheng provides a historical survey of how queer theology has developed from the 1950s to today and then explicates the themes of queer theology using the ecumenical creeds as a general framework."

Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach

From Amazon: "This book bridges traditional religious doctrine and secular postmodern theory regarding gender. Through an examination of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and church history as well as the exploration of other religious traditions and cultures, Mollenkott honors the experience of people who do not fit within the traditional binary concept of gender: intersexual, trans-sexual, or otherwise-gendered individuals."

Trans-gendered: Theology, Ministry and Communities of Faith

From "Justin Tanis, a transgendered ordained minister in the Metropolitan Community Churches, seeks to explore the spiritual nature of transgendered persons, to listen to the stories of others like himself, and to provide theological reflection on the ministries of, by and for this particular community. The book includes an introduction to trans issues, an overview of gender variance and the Bible, reflections on the intersection of transgendered people and faith communities and how to create a genuine welcome for trans people in those communities, as well as a theological analysis of gender as a calling and transgendered body theology"

In From the Wilderness

A brief autobiography of a transgendered pastor in ordained ministry.

What does the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality

A Catholic priest utilizes draws on scholarship of a variety of theologians.

Love is an Orientation

Published by Zondervan, and becoming popular among many Evangelical churches, this book takes a middle-ground view, advocating for Christians to neither condemn LGBTQs nor condone their choices. 

Contact Info

Erica Chu -
T Nowacki -

Short Link to this page:

See notes from other presentations at UNK in March 2012. 

Press Coverage

March 28, 2012 - Kearney Hub Announcement
March 30, 2012 - Kearney Hub Story (page 1)
April 5, 2012 - Kearney Hub Opinion Piece