LGBTQ center launches new transgender ally training

Erica Carter

The LGBTQ center launched a new Trans 101 Safe Space Ally Training that serves as part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training lab.

Increased work with transgender people has revealed a lack of awareness or proper recognition of the validity of transgender identities.

Katie Mattise, program coordinator for the LGBTQ center, said the need came from a lack of sensitivity and knowledge of the transgender community at Kent State University.

“It’s so easy to offended someone when you simply just don’t know what to say, the problem is no one ever feels safe enough to express that they don’t know what to say,” Mattise said.

The Trans 101 training, part of the ongoing Safe Space Ally Training, consists of presentations and exercises put on by the supporters and members of the transgender community.

The training serves as a workshop for students, staff and faculty, giving them the opportunity to learn about identities related to sex and gender. They also hear experiences from members of the transgender community and have a chance to ask  questions within a safe space.

Emily Mupinga, graduate counselor education and supervision major, did the training to better understand a community she may have interaction with during her career.

“The training was wonderful and very informative,” Mupinga said. “Learning about the distinctions between and among terms such as sexuality vs.  gender, transgender vs. cisgender vs. agender vs. genderqueer, gender identity vs. gender expression was very interesting. It was also an eye-opening experience when we discussed the many stereotypes and barriers faced by transgender individuals.”

Students aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the training. Members of the Kent State University Police Services have also participated.

“This information was really cultural to me. As an officer, I want to know everything about anything, and that includes gender, it helps to know things when I’m out on the field,” said Kent State University Police Services community resource officer Tricia Knoles.

Along with Trans 101 training, the LGBTQ center also has Trans*Fusion: a group for trans-identifying students and allies of the community.

The highlight of the training for most participants was the Cisgender/Non-trans privilege exercise. The exercise showed the struggles of different genders when it comes to resources and rights in everyday society.

“It was so eye-opening,” Mupinga said. “I got an opportunity to seriously reflect on my own gender identity and situate it within systems of privilege and realized how privileged I am in comparison to transgender individuals.”

Mattise looks forward to the growing development of the training.

“The results are the best part for me, people come out with a new understanding of the community and that’s all we can ask for,” Mattise said.

Training on transgender identities ensures proper recognition and validity of the transgender identity. Though training helps with awareness, it doesn’t stop all issues in the community.

“Basic rights that we may take for granted and not realize that those in the trans community fight for. Hopefully one day, they will no longer have to fight. In a perfect world, right?,” Knoles said.

Erica Carter is the diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].