Transgender activist Rebecca Kling helps educate MSU community with visit
Transgender artist Rebecca Kling discusses exploring gender and identity during a workshop on Jan. 22, 2013, at Snyder Hall. About 10 students and faculty members attended the workshop. Julia Nagy/The State News
Some MSU students reconsidered gender and personal identity in art Tuesday by attending a workshop hosted by transgender activist and performer Rebecca Kling.
With an extensive educational background in theater and performing arts, Kling was able to use her education to develop her identity, and when she visited MSU to run the workshop and perform for students, she encouraged her audience to do the same.
“I used the tools as an artist to explore for the first time my experience as a transgender person on stage,” Kling said. “The reason we make art is to see ourselves. I used storytelling to share and fully understand who I was as a person.”
Kling used what she has learned as a performer and a transgender person by talking to students and community members Tuesday in Snyder Hall about how to act and adapt to transgender people, and allow those people themselves to become comfortable in their own skin.
Students and adults coming from different gender identities attended the workshop and engaged in many topics of conversation, such as how to approach a person on what pronouns they go by and how bathrooms should not be distinguished between men and women.
“There aren’t a lot of positive depictions of trans people, and I feel that what I am doing is for a non-trans audience, as an educator, activist, and someone doing community outreach, and for people who are trans or are exploring their gender outside of cultural norms,” Kling said.
Students such as elementary education junior Ali Sanchez attended the workshop to further her understanding of the transgender lifestyle.
“Going into education, I know I’ll be working with children who are coming from many different backgrounds, so I wanted to educate myself as much as I can about transgenders,” Sanchez said. “I want to work with diverse students and be a safe person for them to talk to.”
Grant Littke, director of field experience and student affairs in James Madison College, helped bring Kling to campus to reach students of all backgrounds and help those who are struggling with gender identification.
“Myself and the faculty here at MSU are trying to extend the conversation on campus about transgender issues,” Littke said.
He said he hoped the event allowed people who don’t identify themselves as transgender people to get a better understanding of the issues surrounding it.
In the end, Kling’s main goal at MSU was to be a resource for people curious about identities, Kling said.
“Finding a community helps anyone who is trans or can’t figure out their identity,” she said. “There’s no right way to be an identity, so finding someone who can support that helps a lot.”