A special weeklong discussion and celebration of the transgender community has begun at Rutgers University.
Organized by the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities at Rutgers University, Transweek is a discussion of the state of the transgender community and the issues facing it.
The week is open to students and the community, and will feature a multi-media art exhibit on display each day, entitled "(Un)heard: Transmasculine People of Color Speak," a film screening, and a lecture.
Participants in Transweek should expect "excitement and beauty and resilience" within its offerings, said Zaneta Rago, Assistant Director of the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities.
The art exhibit is particularly noteworthy, as it features recordings of the voices of transgender people telling their own stories, Rago said.
Exhibit co-creator Asher Kolieboi will give a lecture at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Douglass Campus Center.
The exhibit is on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 16 in room 247 of Tillett Hall on Livingston Campus, Rago said. It is free and open to the public.
Keynote speaker Janet Mock took the microphone at the Douglass Campus Center on Tuesday night to discuss her experience living as a transgender woman and the change she hopes to bring as a budding voice in the field of advocacy for transgender people.
A native of Honolulu, Mock was born male and had gender reassignment surgery when she was 18.
Her name became nationally known when she announced to the world her status as a transgender woman in a June 2011 story in Marie Claire magazine.
"That article changed my life," Mock said, who now lives in New York City, where she is a writer and advocate for transgender women.
She also talked about her hopes to change conversation about transgender women in particular, to begin more often with "she is" as opposed to "she was".
Discussions of transgender women too often refer to them after they have been killed, she said, particularly transgender women of color.
"I don't have many elders," she said.
Other problems facing the transgender community include negative or marginalized portrayal in mainstream media, and divisions between gay and lesbian and transgender communities, she said.
Rutgers University recently set a new milestone by opening its first class to focus specifically on transgender issues: "Introduction to Transgender Studies" is a class offered by the Department of Gender and Women's Studies.
Mock showed photos of a number of contributing, happy and active transgender women, and urged attendees to remain active in being transgender advocates, and always try to move the conversation forward.
A full schedule of events for Transweek can be found here.