The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI Trans Alliance hosts public panel, includes therapy dogs

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Gaoyuan Pan
Dog owner Barbara Hamon talks with visitors about her therapy dog, Friday, in the IMU on March 31, 2018. (The Daily Iowan/Gaoyuan Pan)

The UI Trans Alliance held a public panel on March 31 for the Transgender Day of Visibility, which focused on introducing audience members to various perspectives from transgender individuals.

The event took place in the IMU, during which four speakers formed a panel that took questions from around three dozen audience members.

The speakers discussed dating, identifying labels, and other topics. Frequently, attendees were encouraged to share their stories and engage in conversation.

“We kept it open because the [members of the] panel … have different experiences, so everyone could put in their input about a question that the audience had,” said AJ King, the secretary treasurer of the UI Trans Alliance and one of the panelists. A lot of the questions would be varied, and we all have different experiences.”

The format provided a more casual atmosphere. King said having one forum for discussion, instead of having each speaker accept her or his own inquiries, allowed the audience to experience a greater variation of perspectives.

“[The event] was designed for people to come and go, to be able to ask the things they were curious about or wanted more information about,” said Dawn Bates, who serves as an adviser for the group.

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Bates works with the UI Counseling Service and has been the UI Trans Alliance’s adviser since September 2017.

In addition to dialogue with members of the forum, attendees were also able to meet a pair of service dogs, named Dexter and Friday, from the Corridor Therapy Dogs organization. The dogs drew a crowd and were receptive to the attention.

“[Corridor Therapy Dogs] has partnered with the University of Iowa a couple times already. They come during Finals Week, which is really cool,” King said. “We wanted a nice, chill atmosphere … it’s a good way for people to relax.”

The International Transgender Day of Visibility was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall, and it is held annually on March 31. The goal of the occasion is to increase awareness of transgender people and their perspectives.

“This is the first time we’ve held a panel on the Trans Day of Visibility and the first time we’ve held a question and answer session,” said James Hirsch, the vice president of the UI Trans Alliance (former *DI* writer). “A lot of the questions were … about people asking what it was like to live as a transgender individual.”

Hirsch said the audience was respectful and engaged in discussions that even gave the panelists new insights about, among other issues, the inclusion of transgender people in certain career fields.

“This event was not necessarily to change peoples’ minds but to give them more perspective, to meet people who might not necessarily have the same background as them,” Hirsch said.





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