When it comes to transgender issues, “it’s all about education” according to Harriet Hancock, founder and vice president of the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center. Hancock was a part of this year's Trans*form forum Monday night, a discussion of issues facing the trans community in Columbia and beyond.
The event, part of LGBT History Month, included USC student Miles Joyner, Army service member Ken Ochoa, recent high school graduate Kyle Kelly and Air Force veteran Amanda Price. Talks focused on issues faced by the trans community in South Carolina, from political questions to when the speakers first knew they were transgender and how they handled it.
Joyner, a fourth-year history student at USC, provided the perspective of a college student in the community.
“I definitely hope that teachers will start utilizing the OMSA resources more on campus ... and start trying to learn more about the students that they have in their classrooms that they may not know about," Joyner said.
Joyner also recommended that transgender students take advantage of the options currently available to them through the school.
"Look into the resources about changing your name on Blackboard, so that way you don’t have to get dead named in class," Joyner said. "Definitely utilize student counseling ... come to IRIS, there's TSA, which is the Trans Student Alliance ... we will accept you with loving arms into our community."
While the importance of voting and impacting legislation was discussed, the big concepts the panelists wanted the audience to understand were communication, education and support. They emphasized that communicating with people about their pronouns and what that means to them is the best way to keep pace.
The panelists also agreed that supporting those going through the transition of figuring out who they are is critical.
For those considering coming out, Joyner recommended they "try and confide in at least one person that you really, really trust."