Speakers increase awareness


by Brandon Ortale

The Lilly Initiative and LGBTQA are giving the Simpson community a chance to hear a new perspective. The groups scheduled two transgendered speakers for Forum events recently.

Debra Davis spoke Tuesday about overcoming self-esteem issues and accepting differences in her speech, “Reading Rainbows.” Rev. Malcolm Himschoot, will discuss his experiences with gender in the workplace.

He will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Pioneer Conference Room in McNeill Hall. Himschoot will also preach at the Crossroads United Church of Christ, which meets in Dirlam Lounge of Smith Chapel at 10:30 a.m. the same day.

LGBTQA is sponsoring Davis’ visit to Simpson. Last year the group went to an annual conference and heard Davis speak, which is when they decided her presentation would be useful at Simpson.

Sophomore Kelsey Hedrick, a member of LGBTQA, coordinated the event.

“The speakers will be a way to increase awareness of transgender issues and educate students about the transgendered people and their specific problems,” Hedrick said.

According to Hedrick, the gay and lesbian community is well-represented in the public eye, however, transgendered people don’t have much support from the gay and lesbian community or from the mainstream community.

She added that many students, faculty and staff at Simpson are unfamiliar with transgendered people and have several incorrect stereotypes about them.

Regardless of others’ stereotypes, junior Joe Nixon said he planned to attend at least one of the speeches.

“I want to learn how they cope with societal pressure,” Nixon said.

Susanne Gubanc, assistant professor of communication, said the speakers would be worth listening to.

“Anytime given an opportunity to open our voices, minds and ideas to new things in the world is exciting,” Gubanc said. “It is one thing to see a film like “Brokeback Mountain”, but to hear personal stories and journeys is [a broader] look at the world.”

LGBTQA members said they plan to attend both speakers to support the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered communities. They will also take Davis out to dinner before her speech.

Hedrick hopes the events open peoples’ minds.

“We want to help others reduce their own stereotypes and prejudices with education,” Hedrick said.