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Cedar Rapids Pride announces transgender panel discussion
Discussion around Transgender Day of Visibility comes after new laws targeting trans rights in Iowa
CEDAR RAPIDS — Amid a flurry of hundreds of anti-transgender bills circulating state legislatures around the country and new legal changes targeting transgender Iowans, Transgender Day of Visibility is taking on a new meaning this year with Cedar Rapids Pride.
On April 1, CR Pride will host a panel discussion with transgender community members, educators, a civil rights experts, parents and health care experts to foster new conversations with a segment of the LGBTQ community impacted now more than ever.
“People can be scared of what they don’t know,” said Corey Jacobson, CR Pride board president. “If we can provide a safe space for people to listen to other people’s stories and get to know each other better, that opens dialogue for us to have conversations.”
If you go
What: Transgender panel discussion hosted by CR Pride
When: April 1 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Cedar Rapids Public Library, Beams B Room, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
Details: Community meet and greet starts at 1:30 p.m. Panel discussion starts at 2 p.m.
Following the passage of Senate File 538 banning gender-affirming care for minors and Senate File 482 banning children in school from using the bathroom of their gender identity, both signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds Wednesday, the panel hopes to educate the public and provide a forum of support to a marginalized group that has become the focus of a new wedge issue.
While CR Pride holds education sessions on transgender issues in the lead-up to its typical lineup for LGBTQ Pride season each summer, the panel this year will get a head start on the nonprofit’s educational mission while providing a forum of support for queer voices to be heard.
This year alone, more than 400 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation have been introduced across the country, according to One Iowa.
“This year, we’re being more intentional,” said Jacobson. “We can help have those conversations to start changing minds.”
With discussions starting before traditional June and July Pride festivals and celebrations for the LGBTQ community, this year’s panel includes:
- Oliver Wenman, transgender CR Pride board member
- Aerin Kirkpatrick, nonbinary educator with the College Community School District
- Jennifer Tibbetts, investigator with the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission
- Cynthia Cardwell, parent of Aspen, a nonbinary child who also will be sharing their story
- Benjamin Roberson, attorney for the Community Law Office, specializing in civil rights law
- Andrew Peterson, member of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) with a background in the health care field
Panelist Aerin Kirkpatrick said this year’s session in the Iowa Legislature has taken a particular toll on them, both as an educator and as a human.
“It feels like lawmakers are trying to actively harm people like me,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think discussions like this are more about making the real effects of this kind of legislation known to the community at large.”
A teacher for three years, Kirkpatrick said that transgender students who have not yet come out to their peers often come out to them first. The teacher worries about other bills being considered that would require them to notify potentially unsupportive parents about a student’s gender identity.
Other bills that are now law, like the bathroom bill, have already had affects on students. Kirkpatrick said the bill, like other anti-LGBTQ bills, shows “a fundamental misunderstanding of who trans people are.”
While transgender people have received a lot of media attention in recent years, being transgender is nothing new, they said.
“I’ve heard stories of students trying to hold it all day and end up getting UTIs, or just refusing to go to school at all, just to avoid what the Iowa Legislature wants to force on trans students,” they said.
Other panelists will share personal stories as well. Peterson will share information surrounding mental health issues in the community and speak to how new laws will impact the well-being of transgender folks.
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