Thursday, May 31, 2007

Educating, One Classroom at a Time

This is a reposting of an article I wrote for the the Kappa Beta newsletter, the Pink Slip, in June 2006. I will be posting an update on our last UNCC presentation soon.

For several years, Kappa Beta has been a part of a sociology class at UNC-Charlotte taught by Dr. Lance. Several of our members speak before the class once each semester, and they take questions from the class afterwards. A big thanks goes out to Bobbie Long for starting and heading up the visits for several years. Pamela has recently taken over and has done a great job as well. I had always heard great stories from these classes, but I had never been able to attend until recently. That changed on May 31, 2006.

We had a great group this time around. Along with Pam, we had Jennifer, Trish, Trish's wife Diane, and myself. Trish and Diane were also first timers, and it was one of the few classes where a wife had attended. We met Dr. Lance in his office at 12:30pm and went back down for the 1pm class. Dr. Lance was very kind as he made sure he got to know each of us, particularly the three newcomers.

Dr. Lance had about a 15 minute lecture to start off. He then turned the floor over to Pamela. Pamela did a great job of introducing herself and the group to the class. Some were clearly very interested and seem to warm up to Pamela as she spoke. No surprise, but most of the guys sat near the back. Then it was my turn to speak. Even though I have spoken thousands of times into a radio microphone, I was still a bit nervous. I had a list of things I wanted to cover about my life's experiences. I definitely wanted to cover the difference about my experience as a crossdresser even though that is only a label. I also decided to share my college experience about being caught dressed by some church friends. I, of course, spoke glowingly of Kappa Beta and how getting out has changed and continues to change my life.

Trish and Jennifer spoke after me. I think the class was very intrigued by Jennifer as she is someone who has transitioned successfully at a fairly young age. We then started taking questions, and most came from a group of five young ladies near the front. Jennifer answered some very interesting ones about the difference of certain experiences in living as a man and then a woman. One touching moment was Diane talking about the difficulty in a relationship with a crossdresser. We had not expected Diane to take any questions, but she was a real trooper in talking about a very difficult subject.

One of the questions I answered involved labeling. Even though I say I am a crossdresser, I see that as merely a convenience in describing my experiences and life. I like for people to look beyond the labels to the real person. I also talked about the feeling of seeing myself completely en femme for the first time and many times after that. The word I use is "intoxicating." It is such a rush. Finally, I talked about my closeted situation as none of my family or friends know about Stephanie. As I've been sharing with many people, there is a good chance I will come out to a close friend in the near future. Stay tuned...

We were finished about 2:30pm. A couple of the young ladies stuck around to talk to us some more. One even invited me to her church! Another was kind enough to take our picture. We took more pictures outside. As I left, I had a strong feeling of accomplishment. We had reached out to a small group of college students that may some day be decision makers. Some were clearly more receptive than others. Still, I have always felt once you know the individual, the labels and stereotypes fade away. That is where we can affect true change. Needless to say, I want to do this more. I have already asked Pamela to schedule me for the next class.

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