TransAction workshop builds community

Mallory Radney

UW Oshkosh hosted the first ever TransAction workshop on Friday, April 6 which focused on building community and educating people about the transgendered population. According to Liz Cannon, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Queer Resource Center, the opening roundtable discussions allowed participants to share knowledge and take discussions of important topics like building community, health care concerns and legal issues. “The Queer Talk Show, an interview with Kate Bornstein, allowed Kate to go beyond her Thursday evening performance and talk about how major incidents in her life shaped her into who she is today,” Cannon said. Cannon said two afternoon transgender trainings, basic and one advanced, were exciting because it was the first time they were given at the workshop. “We have done programing for what we call TransAction Week for the past five years with the purpose of educating the campus on what it means to be transgender, and to call people to action around a significant cause, such as gender neutral restrooms or trans health care,” Cannon said. According to Cannon, the need for such education and action is important because the transgender population is growing. “Once the committee decided that our action this year was going to be building community, we knew we wanted a major program that would give transgender individuals and their allies both on and off campus a chance to come together and talk,” Cannon said. Cannon said it was an easy step to begin envisioning an all-day workshop. Oshkosh student Garrett Denning spoke at the workshop, reminding attendees that community means language. “I come from a place where language is very hard,” Denning said. “I had schoolmates who used to think I was mute or just didn’t talk and I had people trying to slap labels on me.” Denning said he has found a way to communicate within his community. “In coming out and finding this community in particular, I’ve found not just a common language [but] a way to express myself, too, and understand that maybe people would understand me,” Denning said. Denning said there are a lot of transgendered individuals in the community caring for each other and growing as they’ve come out. “Maybe there would be some barriers, but there was enough there and enough love and they knew me well enough because they knew me to bridge that gap and find each other, that’s community for me,” Denning said. Oshkosh student Emmagene Cronin said the entire theme of the workshop was community, not only between transgendered individuals, but also allies. Cronin said it took a lot of effort to get to where they are today and they’re hoping they can continue to make this bettering the workshop. “The transgender community is a small one,” Cronin said. “We’re a group of people trying to fight to understand who we are, just to be ourselves.” Cronin said they are blazing a new path, not only for themselves, but also for the world around them. They’re trying to redefine gender and what it is to be human. “It takes a sheer audacity of self to be able to do these things and I personally think it’s a revolutionary act of love for one’s self, a revolutionary act of love for everybody around them,” Cronin said. Cronin said allies help transgendered individuals become amazing and extraordinary, amplifying their voices to make a difference. Tana De Lonay said she drove from UW-Steven Point to attend the workshop. “I thought it was great, I loved the discussion and I love [the] intro when I walked in and there was ‘community’ in huge letters on the screen,” De Lonay said. De Lonay said she didn’t know what to expect from the workshop, but overall, the hard work clearly shined through.