Pride Week at Juniata is a time to show that students can be confident in themselves, with events including a sexuality panel, a gender panel, and a suicide awareness vigil. Liz Sunde, President of Trans* Parachute United and one of the heads of this year’s Gender Panel, talks about Pride Week and gender:
Q: What do you hope that people will learn from Pride Week?
A: People should try to learn that there are experiences outside of their own. I think that that’s one of the most important things that people should get, especially with gender issues because gender issues aren’t very visible right now, and that’s what we’re trying to change.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about gender?
A: The most common ones are that there are only two genders, and that those two genders are male and female, and that your body decides your gender. I think that is one of the biggest misconceptions. It’s wrong. There are genders male and female, but there are also a lot of other genders that are combinations of male and female in varying degrees, or neither male nor female. They don’t have to match your body parts.
Q: What does it mean to be transgender?
A: Being transgender means that the gender you were assigned at birth does not match your gender identity. For example, if you were born with a penis, and there’s “male” on your birth certificate, but you’re not actually a guy. In that case, if you are a woman or you identify as androgynous, that’s transgender.
Q: How do you think opinions on gender will change in the future?
A: That’s really difficult to say. I want it to change so that we stop assuming people’s genders by looking at them, and I want it to be so that people know that there are more than two genders, and not everybody fits into them. That change needs to happen eventually.
Q: What kinds of changes would you like to see at Juniata?
A: I would like gender identity to be included in the non-discrimination policy, because it’s not right now. The campus is okay, but I want more gender-inclusive bathrooms, to make it safer for non-binary and binary transgender people both. And I think, since Juniata is a microcosm of a larger society, that we have to change a lot of the attitudes. Juniata students have a lot of the same attitudes that people outside of Juniata College have.
Q: What is your favorite part of Pride Week?
A: Well, I guess I’m supposed to say Gender Panel, because that’s my event, but I think coming out in chalk is my favorite, because everyone comes and they come out as something in chalk in bright colors in front of Ellis. Gender Panel is cool too, though.
~Laura Bitely ’14, Juniata Online Journalist