UA panel: 'Ask a trans person anything' - Tucson News Now

UA panel: 'Ask a trans person anything'

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

If you could ask a transgender person anything, what would it be?

Many people had that opportunity tonight at the University of Arizona. The LGBT group Southern Arizona Gender Alliance held a public forum tonight called “Ask a Trans Person Anything.”

The forum is meant to bring awareness to issues and challenges that transgender people face. The group says being transgender means someone does not identify with the sex in which they were born.

But the Alliance members want people to know it's not an issue that's black or white but that there's a lot of gray in between.

“I identify as trans, specifically as gender queer,” said Jai Smith. He says he is free to express being both masculine and feminine and that labels do not define him.

Stephanie Donoghue says that she is inter-sexed, meaning that she was born with born male and female sex organs, and advocates for transgender rights.

“If you come out transgender, you risk losing your family, and losing your job! Because Arizona is one of those states that doesn't have those protections,” she said.

Michael Woodward was born a female and transitioned into being a male in his 30's. Now at 51, he says he's living the life he was meant to.

“It's definitely the best decision I've ever made,” he said.

Woodward moderated the panel filled with people who are transgender or know someone who is. People asked them questions about their lifestyle. One U of A student was interested in how they date. They also wanted to know issues affecting them.

“We're often denied healthcare or get the care that we need especially during transition services,” said Woodward.

The group says they want people to know they are not “mentally ill” as some people seem to think and that doctors and psychologists recognize their need and want for physiological change as a legitimate concern.

On Thursday, the group will read names of transgendered people who were murdered across the world because they were victims of hate on the UA mall.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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