Breaking the Binary: Queer and Trans* Empowerment Month



Education and visibility lead in Northwestern's Queer and Trans* Empowerment month. 

Multicultural Students Affairs coordinated the month of events, led by assistant director Jordan “JT” Turner. Turner said the events seek to help folks understand the complexity and history of queer identity.

The title of a month of empowerment represents this mission.

"The queer community is really diverse," Turner said. "Recognizing the various heritages within the queer is important form of visibility and inspires students to be advocates and allies for the LGBTQIA community."

Students gathered to celebrate National Coming Out Day, one of the month's highlights. Turner said the event functioned like a workshop, where participants could write and share their insights.



Pidgeon Pagonis delivered Rainbow Week’s keynote address October 13, raising awareness about corrective surgeries for the intersex population and sharing their experience growing up intersex. 

Student group Rainbow Alliance organized the event as part of Rainbow Week.

Car Jansen, a Weinberg senior and the co-president of Rainbow Alliance, explained that intersex issues are infrequently discussed within queer communities, making the event an important step in remedying that gap.

" I think that events that focus on the binary and breaking the binary are really important to a lot of people within the queer community as well,” Jansen said.

A RealTalk LGBTQIA workshop launched the month’s programming October 3. Turner led small group discussions on topics the LGBTQIA community faces. 

“You might leave with more questions than you started with,” they said at the workshop’s beginning, when they set up some ground rules for creating a safe space. 

Participants departed the hour and a half workshop with a pronouns pin, an easy way to display your preferred pronouns on a lapel or backpack. The workshop had began with a discussion of how language impacts the LGBTQIA community, covering terms like “they,” “ze” and “hir.” 

To become more comfortable with using gender neutral pronouns until someone clarifies their preferred pronouns, workshop participants practiced relating a recent story using a set of pronouns they’re less familiar with. A second Real Talk workshop will take place on November 15 from 6-8 p.m. 

Students can find more resources at the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on the third floor of Norris. 

"I want to meet with new students and keep those connections going throughout the year," Turned said. "For me, it’s all about increasing our office’s visibility as a resource and that we’re thinking very intentionally about ways to help and support them.”