Monday, March 26, 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. 

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