Triangle Coalition brings transgender discussion to MU

The event was part of part of Transgender Awareness Week.
Sophomore Emily Colvin listens as names of transgender people who were victims of violence are read as part of the first Transgender Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil Thursday at Hillel, the Jewish student center. The vigil was part of Transgender Awareness Week.

Behind every person who is transgender, there is a family.

As part of Transgender Awareness Week, Triangle Coalition hosted a panel discussion about significant others, friends, family and allies of transgender people on Wednesday. The panel consisted of eight transgender people and SOFFAs.

The event began by introducing each member of the panel. In the process, they told their respective stories of being either transgender or a SOFFA.

Lucas Renati, a transgender male living in Washington, Mo., transitioned in the last few years. Before coming out as transgender, he was married with three children. Accompanying him on the panel were his daughter Elly and his partner Michael Renati.

Elly said her life has changed a lot in the past two and a half years.

"It's like you're walking in one direction and someone picks you up and makes you walk the other way," she said.

Before, Lucas was depressed and not involved in her schooling, Elly said. Since his transition, she said, the story has been nearly the opposite. She said she has not faced problems at school because of her father.

"My friends question it a little, but they don't discriminate," Elly said.

The role fathers play in coming out as transgender came up in nearly every person's story.

Shea, a transsexual female who only goes by one name, grew up in Columbia. Now she lives in St. Louis but plans to move to San Francisco for school next spring. She said coming out as transsexual was difficult since her father is a minister.

"St. Louis has been an open opportunity to be myself," she said.

Beaux Moore, a 37-year old transgender male who identifies as queer, laughed as he said he didn't have a minister for a father, but he did have a biker.

"My biggest adversity has been losing my relationship with my dad," Moore said. "My kids, on the other hand, have been great."

Moore's wife Jennifer Connor, who identifies as a lesbian, sat on the panel alongside him.

"I still love him for him," she said. "It's not easy, but we've been working it out."

After introductions, the panel discussed problems that face transgender people and SOFFAs. An audience member asked if it is more difficult to transition to female or male.

"They are both equally as hard," Lucas Renati said. "They are different flowers of the same problem."

In describing the adversity he faces, Lucas Renati said he has also seen the positive side of things.

"As much as there is dark, there is light," he said.

Transgender Awareness Week continued Thursday with a candlelight vigil to remember and honor "those who were killed due to transgender hatred or prejudice," according to the event's Facebook page.

Attendees could sign a petition to include gender identity in MU's non-discrimination clause. The policy protects sexual orientation but not gender identity.

That policy extends beyond MU's campus. In general, there is no policy to protect against gender identity, Lucas Renati said.

"We don't have rights," he said.

The week's events conclude today with keynote speaker Ignacio Rivera, a New York-based artist and activist who will discuss transgender organizing, race and inclusion in Ellis Auditorium at 7 p.m.

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