By Elijah Clarke, Staff Writer
The Cross-Dressing and Gender Spectrum talk took place on March 12, and was the fifth Women’s Empowerment Month event. “The fact that we are even having this talk is big, because this is a touchy subject,” said Rhonda Lee, a local male-to-female cross-dresser.
Lee, who is biologically a man but identifies as a woman, says she use to have a wife. With the passing of her wife, things felt different for her and that opened her mind up to openly cross-dressing.
Lee explained that cross-dressers are considered to be transgendered, but that they’re trying to steer away from that term for cross-dressers. “Everything in the gender spectrum is becoming tainted by the word ‘transsexual’,” Lee said.
A transsexual is someone who feels they were born the wrong gender, or who takes on the process of becoming the opposite gender. A transgendered person is someone who wants to portray being a gender other than their own. While transsexual is more biological, transgender is more mental.
Cross-dressers especially know that they are male or female, and are content with the body parts that they’re given, but want to be perceived as the opposite gender.
In this world there are many more transgendered people than transsexuals, but they are less-known and less understood. “I learned that there are full-time and part-time crossdressers,” freshman education major Samantha Roy said. “I personally don’t see anything wrong with anything of the sort, especially if it ties, or deals, with the person’s morals.”
Lee also dabbled in explaining intersex people and how they make up about 4 percent of the world’s population, and made sure to clarify that sexual identity and sexual orientation are two different things. She says society needs to open their mind more to understand that. “Sexual orientation is what sex you’re attracted to, while sexual identity is what sex you feel as if you are,” she emphasized.
Lee’s partner, Ms. Barbara Davidson, a male to female transsexual, took the floor and talked about “the closet.”
Davidson began with explaining her road to coming out. “When I made my decision, I was nervous. It takes guts, and I took little steps. Gradually it got easier. It probably took me a good six months. Now, it doesn’t bother me at all,” she said. “You have the right to tell who you want to tell when you feel the time is right, because this is a touchy thing, not just for the other person but for you as well.”
She introduced the audience to Benjamin’s guidelines, a set of rules that a transsexual should follow before getting hormonal or surgical treatment. This opened the floor for the last speaker, Elizabeth Ann, another cross-dresser.
Ann took the floor to say that the group they come from is a non-professional one, meaning that there are no therapists in the group. It’s a group of peers who give emotional, mental and sometimes situational support. Lastly, Elizabeth Ann went into how the gender spectrum, especially when tied in with sexuality, has many dimensions and frankly shouldn’t even be referred to as a spectrum.
The speakers all agreed that they hoped the one thing that people would get out of their talk would be openness and the chance to educate others. “I now realize the difference between cross-dressers, transgender, and the transsexual community,” Charles Breazeale, a freshman chemistry major said. “It’s important knowledge, especially this day in age.”