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College Republicans screen ‘What Is a Woman?’ while students celebrate trans joy

The Kent State College Republicans held their yearly screening of the documentary “What Is a Woman?” in The Student Center, while outside students celebrated trans joy as a resistance on Risman Plaza.

Aciano Leipply-Caban, a freshman environmental conservation biology major, said he organized the trans joy is resistance celebration because of the hate transgender individuals have been receiving and the passage of House Bill 68, which bans gender affirming medical care for transgender minors.

“This is only my second semester here but I have already received both death threats and rape threats for being trans,” Leipply-Caban said. “I know others have experienced the same and there has been zero repercussions or coverage of these events.”

Leipply-Caban said when he heard the College Republicans would be screening the documentary, he felt the need for something to be done.

“The kind of tipping point for this was the showing of [‘What Is A Woman?’] and all of the hate surrounding the people who are putting it,” he said.

Kent State College Republicans hosts a watch party for the documentary “What is a Woman?” in The Student Center on Feb. 7, 2024. (Sara House)

Last week, there were messages painted on the rock promoting the screening of the documentary, Leipply-Caban said. Based on those messages, the rock itself was not the problem, but the message was.

“I don’t think the rock was the problem. I think the logistics behind it, the people behind it and the lack of repercussions [was],” he said.

Leipply-Caban said he believes how important free speech is and how the rock could act as a good way for students to voice their opinions; however, there is a need for repercussions.

“There is a point where free speech turns into hate speech, and I don’t believe that has a place on campus let alone anywhere,” he said.

While at the documentary screening, Emmett Geul, a sophomore political science major and member of the College Republicans, said hate speech can be subjective and the danger comes from the attempts to censor such.

“I think free speech is ultimately free speech and the second you start censoring people’s political discourse it gets pretty scary,” Geul said. “Because how are you supposed to unite as a country or have free dialogue.”

Last year, the organization was able to generate dialogue based on gender ideology, beliefs regarding gender and its place in the classroom from the screening of the film, Geul said.

“I think [the documentary] turns [out] some good dialogue, especially to have at college,” he said.

Geul said the College Republicans believe gender ideology should not be pushed onto children.

“This is what the movie shows. It shows the horrors of pushing transgenderism onto children and the irreversible surgeries that can cause harm,” he said.

Those who view the screening as a personal attack should reevaluate their beliefs if they see this as an attack on such, Geul said.

“If they realize this is dismantling what they currently believe then maybe they shouldn’t be viewing such [biased] info,” he said.

At the trans joy is resistance celebration, students drew chalk art and gave speeches about their experiences being transgender.
One of those testimonies include Leipply-Caban, who said how joyful he was when his partner first taught him how to shave.

“I got to experience the joy of my partner teaching me how to shave for the first time because my dad refused to do so,” he said.

Noah Hite, a Cuyahoga Falls High School student and intern at the university’s LGBTQ+ Center, said they and others at the center spoke to the university’s Undergraduate Student Government about a resolution condemning the passage of House Bill 68.

Kent State CRS holds a watch party for “What is a Woman?” on Feb. 7, 2024. (Sara House)

“I am so beyond grateful to announce that about an hour ago they passed [the resolution] and the Kent State University officially denounced House Bill 68 with a unanimous vote,” Hite said.

Hite said although this a small victory, it is still special as the university supports their voice making the resolution condemning the bill a part of their trans joy.

Hite continued their testimony as they said how starting hormone replacement theory at 17 and how those treatments and others have saved their life in numerous ways.

“Gender affirming care has saved me from the depths of anorexia, that in itself should be enough,” Hite said. “Access to gender affirming health care saved me from hurting myself to feel the smallest ounce of control over a body I felt imprisoned within.”

Danielle Jackson, a freshman international studies major, said everyone present at the celebration is human. With this in mind she said humans use humor to get through difficult situations and provided a way to do so by quoting the musical “Rent.”

“If anyone ever misgenders you, I want you to jump in front of them,” Jackson said. “If you’re a trans woman look at them and say, ‘I feel bad for you, I’m more of a woman than you’ll ever get and I’m more of a man than you’ll ever be.’”

From these testimonies and others, Leipply-Caban said he hopes attendees take away the strength of the transgender community and how there is still joy within it.

“I really want people to leave here with a stronger sense of community, belonging and support,” he said.

Adriana Gaisiewski is a beat reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Adriana Gasiewski, Staff Reporter
Adriana is a sophomore majoring in journalism with minors in Italian and creative writing. Before becoming a staff reporter, she was a general assignment reporter last semester. She enjoys writing about current events and issues that Kent students face. Adriana is a second-year member of Her Campus, where she serves as Philanthropy and Community Events Coordinator, and she is a member of the editorial team. Contact her at [email protected].

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