Monday, November 16, 2020 Vol. 130, No. 27

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Monday, November 16, 2020 Vol. 130, No. 27

Collegian.com

‘I’m more comfortable now than I have ever been.’ GENDER-NONCONFORMING VOICES HIGHLIGHT TRANS AWARENESS IN OUR COMMUNITY

PHOTO COURTESY OF KAZ SMITH


MAGGIE HENDRICKSON JAY SCHUTTE KAZ SMITH MEDICAL RESOURCES PROFFESOR D-L STEWART

A NOTE ON THE TRANSGENDER AWARENESS EDITION By Anna von Pechmann @101avp Dear readers, This Transgender Awareness special edition began when The Collegian photographer Colin Shepherd came up with the idea to document Colorado State University student Kaz Smith’s transition. Kaz is a dear friend of mine and has been very transparent about his experiences, posting self-portraits and vlogs on social media throughout his transition. After further considering the underrepresentation of the gender-nonconforming community as a whole, we realized that Kaz’s willingness to be photographed and interviewed presented a chance to document him through his transition. Starting from one long-form photo story, the documentation of Kaz’s transition turned into an entire special edition including features on other members of the gender-nonconforming community in Fort Collins and

providing resources. Transgender Awareness Week, celebrated from Nov. 13-19, was started as a week of recognition leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20. Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded it in 1999 as a day to commemorate the lives lost to anti-transgender violence. Transgender Awareness Week now serves as a nationwide occasion to bring visibility to the discrimination that this community faces. We recognize that we are unable to represent every member of the community in just one newspaper. However, our hope is that these stories can resonate with people across the gender spectrum and bring awareness to this important subject. Thank you for reading, and we hope you are able to gain something from the stories and resources that follow. Sincerely, Anna von Pechmann Photo director Anna von Pechmann can be reached at photo@collegian.com.

THIS SPECIAL EDITION WAS CREATED AND PRODUCED BY THE FOLLOWING COLLEGIAN DIRECTORS:

Special thanks to Kaz Smith and Collegian photographer Colin Shepherd. Contributors: Renee Ziel, Anna Schwabe, Katrina Clasen, Noah Pasley, Kadyn Thorpe, Serena Bettis, Ryan Schmidt, Lauryn Bolz, Laura Studley, Dorina Vida, Meagan Stackpool, Abby Vander Graaff, Lucy Morantz.

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INFOGRAPHIC BY KATRINA CLASEN, RESEARCH BY NOAH PASLEY AND KADYN THORPE

Transgender Awareness Week

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BREAKING OUT OF THE BINARY: A PATH TO FIND THE RIGHT WORDS

Assistant Director Maggie Hendrickson in their office at the Pride Resource Center Oct. 21. PHOTO BY RYAN SCHMIDT THE COLLEGIAN

enough” to belong to the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride Center is available to @serenaroseb anyone who is questioning, no matter what it may be. Maggie Hendrickson was never “It’s a journey of humans mak(ing) very fond of the boxes society has tried up these words, and to put them in. you’re like, ‘Am I Growing up, Henenough of this to use drickson’s peers never that word?’ And I seemed pleased with think it’s just empowthe way they presentering to try it on, and ed themself. When if it changes, it changthey dressed in the es,” Hendrickson said. way that felt most “The way I identify comfortable to them, might change in 10 they weren’t “girly” years.” enough for others, but Within the when they tried to fit LGBTQ+ umbrella in, it wouldn’t appease exist many terms and anyone either. spectrums that people “I remember befall under, including ing at summer camp,” along the trans and Hendrickson said. “I nonbinary spectrum. went to an all girls Hendrickson comcamp, and ... people pared learning these called me a tomboy. I new possibilities of was into sports, wasn’t identity to learning a into makeup or anynew language. thing, and I remem“I often say, ‘How ber I would get made do you know a color fun of for not looking can be your favorite ‘girly enough,’ and color if you’ve never then when I would try seen the color beto look how I thought fore?’” Hendrickson people wanted me to said. “I didn’t know a look, ... they’d make lot about trans expefun of me regardless riences or that nonfor not fitting in their binary was even an box, or I was someoption. ... It was a lot thing to ogle at, or a of learning that, like, spectacle.” ‘Oh, there’s more than It wasn’t until these two options,’ Hendrickson started and things that I had graduate school and thought were just learned more about weird or different or the gender binary (or isolating about myself Maggie Hendrickson, assistant director of Pride Resource Center, welcomes students, Brandon and Alli Paez, passing by lack thereof ) that they were actually things the Pride booth at The Lory Student Center Plaza on Oct. 12. PHOTO BY TRI DUONG THE COLLEGIAN felt they better underthat other people exstood where they fit in. perienced.” “I was meeting Looking at the more and more Hendrickson added that no matter lengthy list of words Hendrickson could As assistant director of the Pride (transgender) and nonbinary people Resource Center at Colorado State what someone is questioning, whether use to identify themself felt empowerand hearing their experiences and University, Hendrickson is not only it’s attraction, lack of attraction, how ing, they said. While at first trying to following more people on social media,” able to be openly queer in their work they dress or talk, how they see them- find the right word was intimidating Hendrickson said. “I was like ‘Oh, sh*t, but is able to help students and others selves or who they want to end up with, and overwhelming, it felt good for Henthis ... fits my experience.’” in the community find a safe space to it can be scary, strange and isolating, drickson to sit down and see the possiFor about five years now, understand their own sexualities and but it is normal, and they are not alone. bilities beyond the box of the binary. Hendrickson has identified as trans It is also important, Hendrickson gender identities. and nonbinary masculine, as well “I try as much as I can to normalize said, that people do not feel as though as queer. They said that claiming to CONTINUE ON PAGE 5 >> that it’s a weird and scary thing to ques- they are not “queer enough” or “trans be trans has helped them be more

By Serena Bettis

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confident and comfortable with who they are and to reconcile the expectations others have for them with what they hope for themself.

tion gender, gender expression, sexuality, whatever because the way that we are brought up is just that; it’s really present that there’s one way that you should be,” Hendrickson said.


“I don’t really feel tied to how I was assigned at birth,” Hendrickson said. “Nonbinary feels the best way because it also feels pretty open-ended, pretty broad, that there’s lots of ways to be nonbinary. ... I think we try to piece together multiple words to get a little more accurate to our experiences, (and) I think a lot of us identify with multiple terms.”

“I try as much as I can to normalize that it’s a weird and scary thing to question gender, gender expression, sexuality, whatever because the way that we are brought up is just that; it’s really present that there’s one way that you should be.” MAGGIE HENDRICKSON PRIDE RESOURCE CENTER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Hendrickson said that in the Safe Zone trainings they conduct, they often talk about why there are so many labels in the LGBTQ+ community and why they matter and need to be respected. “I think in a perfect world, yes, I would love if we didn’t have any labels and we could just exist in all the different ways we exist,” Hendrickson said. “But because these two labels of man and woman … were so enforced and policed and if you didn’t fit in that box, you were different and other, rather than calling myself broken or different or wrong, I want to call myself a name.”

Pride Resource Center Assistant Director Maggie Hendrickson and Program Coordinator Pedro Ramos prepare to provide support and advice for students planning to come out at The Lory Student Center Plaza Oct. 12. PHOTO BY TRI DUONG THE COLLEGIAN

“I don’t really feel tied to how I was assigned at birth. Nonbinary feels the best way because it also feels pretty open-ended, pretty broad, that there’s lots of ways to be nonbinary.” MAGGIE HENDRICKSON PRIDE RESOURCE CENTER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

The word cisgender exists, Hendrickson said, because this way, instead of saying people are either normal or transgender, they are either cis or trans. It gives honor and respect to people who don’t fit in society’s expectations around normative identities, Hendrickson said. “(Because) if I didn’t have the word nonbinary, I wouldn’t know how to make sense of my reality,” Hendrickson said. “I would just be like, ‘I’m different, there’s no one like me.’ Whereas picking that word allows me to find community, to find self respect. ... It allows us to see ourselves and see other people who are similar, and that’s one of the most hopeful and helpful components for LGBTQ+ people.” Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Maggie Hendrickson behind a stand for International Pronoun Day in The Plaza Oct. 16, 2019. PHOTO BY RYAN SCHMIDT THE COLLEGIAN

Transgender Awareness Week

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‘NEVER A FINAL PROJECT’: JAY SCHUTTE BREAKS DOWN GENDER NORMS By Lauryn Bolz @laurynbolz

Jay Schutte is nonbinary, meaning they do not identify with either side of the male-female gender spectrum. For Schutte, their gender is fluid and everchanging, not trapped in a societally-set group of rules. “Gender is never a final project,” Schutte said. “It’s never a complete project in the life of anyone.”

Schutte, a postdoctoral fellow in the departments of communication studies and anthropology at Colorado State University, exemplifies the importance of intersectionality in the university system, both in their studies as well as in their life. Teaching classes surrounding their intersectional studies, Schutte has inspired many students during their postdoctoral fellowships, including Brooke Higgerson, a junior studying cultural anthropology and legal studies.

“Jay (Schutte) brought solidarity to the classroom by underpinning and demonstrating that life is an endless process of transformation and inquisition that requires critical thought and a sense of humor,” Higgerson said. Schutte’s experience is informed by their coming of age in the turbulent political climate of the 1990’s in South Africa. They grew up during apartheid, an era of extreme systemic oppression and segregation. According to Schutte, apartheid in South Africa not only pertained to race, but every vector of intersectionality, including sexuality, gender, class and language. “White men in the apartheid state had this extreme power,” Schutte said. “That sort of heteronormative white patriarchy that filtered all the way down through every single social category and the society as a whole, making mobility in between any kind of identity rigid and tough and difficult.” Between 1990 and 1994, the country’s government underwent an intense change from the United States-backed apartheid government to very liberal leadership under Nelson Mandela. “It was a very confusing time because, if any group of people of this era might have any reflexivity … or awareness of how potentially flexible personal and political categories are, it would be that generation of young South Africans that grew up at that time,” Schutte said. Though the apartheid system had been dismantled, according to Schutte, the cultural systems that upheld white supremacy and toxic masculinity did not disappear.

“I did not come out, as there was no possibility of coming out in that sort of context. I don’t recall the moment that I came out as such, as a nonbinary subject. But these sort of allowed myself to be held into groups throughout my life.” JAY SCHUTTE POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW

“In post-apartheid South Africa, class became a major position through which the racialized lines of whiteness were enacted; even among communities of color, a fractal apartheid re-emerged,” Schutte said. “The vectors of inequality did not dissipate or go away. Masculinity as a sort of toxic problem did not go away. It just moved its address, in a sense.” This address, as Schutte experienced it, was the private boy’s school where they spent their formative years. “(The school) was considered to be the sort of site for producing future Afrikaner nationalist presidents and things like that,” Schutte said. “It was … a brutal space where these boys would (act) in extreme forms of masculine violence on one another. It was not a kind environment for a subject who was still trying to find their identity to emerge with it.”

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Colorado State University postdoctoral fellow Jay Schutte plays township jazz, which originates from Johannesburg, South Africa, on their “avocado” Fender Telecaster electric guitar on a bench near The Lagoon Oct. 29. PHOTO BY ANNA VON PECHMANN THE COLLEGIAN

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According to Schutte, they tried their best to blend into the background and focus on their studies, but that did not protect them from the violent, hypermasculine culture of the school and their home life. “There was a moment in high school where, actually, I was on a rugby tour, and I was actually physically abused by a group of boys who basically … did horrible things to me,” Schutte said. Though the country of South Africa was going through a time of self-discovery, Schutte was forced to stay quiet about their identity or face the repercussions for going against the societal norms forced onto them. “I had a father who was an extremely hypermasculine subject,” Schutte said. “I recall, as a very young kid, dressing up as a girl for fun once and my father freaking out and threatening to shave my hair because this was hugely problematic and yelling at my biological mom for ‘turning me into a queer.’” Schutte said that moments such as these made them internally ambiguous and able to empathize with both sides of the gender spectrum. That being said, within the hypermasculine context they grew up in, they could not fully express their gender in order to survive. “I did not come out, as there was no possibility of coming out in that sort of context. I don’t recall the moment that I came out as such, as a nonbinary subject. But these sort of allowed myself to be held into groups throughout my life.” Colorado State University departments of communication studies and anthropology postdoctoral fellow Jay Schutte works on a book From their experience growing up they’re writing about international relations between South Africa and China Nov. 4. PHOTO BY ANNA VON PECHMANN THE COLLEGIAN during the transition between apartheid and post-apartheid in South Africa and with the added perception of experiencing department chair of communication it as a bilingual person, Schutte recognized studies, Schutte was brought on as a the nuances of human communication postdoctoral fellow due to their ability to and perception due to language. After speak to the anthropological, cultural and getting their undergraduate degree in communicative ways of understanding ethnomusicology and composition, they diversity and Indigenous studies. refocused their studies on linguistic “They’ve been really engaged with a anthropology. number of our graduate students as a really Schutte earned their master’s degree great mentor for teaching, scholarship and and Ph.D. in anthropology at the University reading practices,” Dickinson said. “I’ve of Chicago, where they studied the interplay really appreciated Jay (Schutte’s ability) to between politics, language and race within reach out to (them) and provide a bit of an groups of African and Chinese groups in extra touch.” Beijing. They also travelled extensively, Schutte’s innotably to South tersectional studKorea, before ies in the fields of finally joining CSU. “Jay (Schutte) challenged communication “Students students by creating a space of and anthropology in this Univertheir views curiosity, a process that should reflect sity, whether it’s on how conversaplanned that way embrace engagement without tions should funcor not, have a real judgement or overt power tion on campus: opportunity of enthrough recogrelations with defined agendas.” countering each nizing differences Jay Schutte works at a table outside Everyday Joe’s Coffee House while sitting next to a other in classand confronting pile of books, mostly from the intercultural communication class they teach Nov. 4. BROOKE HIGGERSON rooms and so on,” difficult conversa- PHOTO BY ANNA VON PECHMANN THE COLLEGIAN JUNIOR IN CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Schutte said. tions. AND LEGAL STUDIES According “We must to Schutte’s statecould facilitate the transfer of information,” be aware that, spaces for dialogue.” ment on the ColSchutte said that, as the United Higgerson said. “Jay (Schutte) wchallenged sometimes, the performance of one idenlege of Liberal Arts website, they find CSU tity doesn’t accrete or conceal the possibil- States has a very conflict-avoidant society, students by creating a space of curiosity, a to be a good fit for them because of the ity of meaningful dialogue and exchange,” sometimes conflict can encourage process that should embrace engagement University’s new focus on academic decolo- Schutte said. “I agree that subjects … need meaningful conversation and change. without judgement or overt power relations nization through interdisciplinary studies. safe spaces, this is absolutely necessary. But “Conflict is not necessarily violence- with defined agendas.” According to Higgerson, Schutte embraced we also need spaces within which it is safe conflict,” Schutte said. “There are times According to Higgerson, Schutte’s these concepts through presenting them as for us to speak to one another.” I’ve seen students have a tension with perspective as a nonbinary individual also shared experiences. According to Schutte, the University one another, but that tension can actually enhanced her learning experience and “I met Jay (Schutte) in my second system can be a catalyst for these spaces to be immediate. Tension can be really provided a different perspective for her to semester at CSU,” Higgerson said. form, and they especially see potential for productive in a classroom situation, where consider. “They were teaching theory in cultural improved intersectionality at CSU. a student was confronted with (a concept) “Having non-heteronormative anthropology. … I do not think I fully “I feel that the class subjectivity of like white privilege in the context of a professors is important because it increases understood Jay (Schutte’s) perspective impeccable politics at (the University of) classroom by another student who called the diversity of the classroom and unsettles of teaching until we read ‘Pedagogy of the Chicago was far more stifling to an actual them out on it.” the present binaries,” Higgerson said. Oppressed’ by Paulo Freire. It was then that dialogue than students actually have in this According to Higgerson, she valued “Binaries are destructive because they seek I realized Jay did not treat their students as a context,” Schutte said. “Students across the Schutte’s form of teaching through to exclude groups for arbitrary reasons that blank canvas to be painted with knowledge, class divide and across the racial divide and confrontational conversations. have no grounds in speaking to who we are but rather they treated us as if we had our across the gender divide have a far better “As a student, I felt recognized by Jay as individuals or students.” own rich and diverse worldviews.” Lauryn Bolz can be reached at news@ chance of speaking to one another as long (Schutte), as opposed to just another face According to Greg Dickinson, the as student institutions are able to create hidden within the classroom where they collegian.com.

Transgender Awareness Week

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BECOMING KAZ: A JOURNEY OF SELF ACCEPTANCE By Laura Studley @laurastudley_

Kaz Smith was four when he knew something was missing. It was after he decided he wanted a haircut just like his childhood friend Dylan Mentzer. He signaled to the hairdresser how short he wanted it, holding his hands just above his ears. However, his mom had other ideas. Kaz got a bob cut instead. And though he disliked his new hair, he ended up cutting it again when he was 16 years old. Cutting his hair was the first step in his journey to becoming more comfortable with who he is. It was three years later, when Kaz was 19, when he took up climbing. He became closer to his own body and learned more about how it works. Climbing is a sport that involves being connected to your body and its capabilities in order to successfully complete routes, he explained. “Dysphoria had me so disconnected from my body ... that when I started climbing, it felt like I was in my body in a way that I never had been before,” he said. He explained that when he began understanding how his body worked, the discomfort he had been feeling wasn’t fake or something that everyone experiences. “It’s a hard process to start understanding that, but it also was really empowering in a way because I had felt really disconnected for so long, and now it all made sense,” Kaz said. Disconnect was not the only battle Kaz was fighting. Self-doubt was also a large factor in his journey — something he described as “inevitable.” Questions like “Are you sure?” “How do you know?” and “Maybe it’s just a phase” are just some of the uncertainties that come up. “If that’s all we’ve been given it makes sense that we’d question our own feeling (and) experiences,” Kaz said. Assistant Director for the Pride

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Resource Center Maggie Hendrickson explained that having the “intent versus impact” conversation is worth having with loved ones. “Usually those questions come from a place of care, like if it’s ... family members or partners wanting to make sure that you’ll be happy and safe and healthy,” Hendrickson said. “But the way that it reads or the way that it lands is, ‘I don’t think you know what’s in your best interest. I think you’re making an irrational decision’ or that your identity is not real.”

“Any time someone chooses to come out is the perfect and right time. There’s no scripted timeline of coming out. … You can choose person by person when it feels right in a way that feels right, and that’s how it was supposed to be for you.” MAGGIE HENDRICKSON ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE PRIDE RESOURCE CENTER

Through communicating with them about the impact of these statements, it can help them realize that even though their intent may be well-meaning, the questions could still be landing in a different way, they said. Kaz explained that every time he had a solid plan for coming out as transgender to his family, the self-doubt would derail it. When he did come out to his family, they told him he should wait years before beginning any sort of transition. Though the period between this and his parents coming around to the idea was only a few months, it felt much longer to Kaz. “Any time someone chooses to come out is the perfect and right time,” Hendrickson said. “There’s no scripted timeline of coming out. … You can choose person by person when it feels right in a

way that feels right, and that’s how it was supposed to be for you.” They explained that coming out can be a process full of anxiety, but, ultimately, it is an individual’s step for moving toward a more authentic version of themself. Kaz has known he wanted to have top surgery for years, but funding the operation was yet another obstacle. His parents weren’t planning on financially supporting surgery if he went through with it before completing school, so he started a GoFundMe. “It was kind of in the middle of when they were starting to understand that I wasn’t making it up or wasn’t just saying it to have something about my life change or whatever they thought,” he said. Once his parents saw the donations coming in and the impact it was having, his dad said he would match the donations, putting only a quarter of the financial burden on Kaz. Leading up to the operation, Kaz’s mom encouraged him to pursue other options before deciding. “At first, that really bothered me,” Kaz said. “I was like, ‘I know what I want to do. If this is going to be all up to me, I should be able to make the decision,’ and then I ended up deciding to meet her in the middle.” Kaz’s mom wanted him to go to a consultation with a surgeon who is recognized by The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an organization he said catered toward binary trans individuals, not nonbinary people. “Because of that, I didn’t want to abide by that system,” he said. “But in order for my parents to support me through surgery, I had to meet them in the middle and at least attend a consultation with this surgeon.” Kaz ended up choosing this surgeon because he did not base his practice off of WPATH, even though he was listed on its website. “After waiting a few extra months, it was clear that he was the person I wanted to go with for surgery,” he said. “The wait is worth it. It’s frustrating as all hell, but it’s worth it in the end.” After surgery, Kaz felt one emotion: relief. “If you have a cold and you notice you have a cold because your nose is stuffy, you miss being able to breathe properly through your nose,” he said. “But for me, it was like my nose had been stuffed my entire life, and I just didn’t realize it until I was older. It was like going back to a normal I never had before.” And though surgery helps many affirm their identities, Fort Collins resident and NoCo Eclectic member Autumn Patterson explained that surgery is not a requirement to identify as trans. “You don’t have to do the surgery to be trans,” Patterson said. “That’s not the way that works. And usually, if you give yourself enough time to understand who you are, be comfortable with your gender, it will become obvious, eventually, what to do.” Kaz’s healing process has been a success, but the downside for Kaz was getting cleared to climb the day quarantine began in the spring. However, this turned into a positive because it gave him time to be physically able to go back instead of pushing himself to climb before he was ready.

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PHOTOS BY COLIN SHEPHERD Looking to the future, Kaz sees a challenge in learning how to walk the line of being proud of who he is while fighting to feel comfortable being out in certain spaces. “There’s just this line that I’m learning how to walk of ‘Should I talk about it everywhere?’ I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just a difficult thing to figure out before it happens.” Hendrickson explained that any decision made around an individual’s safety is valid. Even if they want to be fully out, waving a trans flag, it may not feel like it’s the right safe space to be doing that. It is times like these when individuals may alter their gender expression or ask people to not use their pronouns in public in order to avoid negative attention, they said. “Those things can feel like moving a step backward or back into the closet, but we can make decisions to protect our own safety and our own well-being,” Hendrickson said. “It’s part of the long game. It’s not just a sprint — it’s a marathon of finding ways to bench the system and figure out ways for us to be out.” Every person is capable of making decisions surrounding their safety and well-being, Hendrickson said. “It doesn’t make them any less trans, any less valid or any less proud,” they said. “Sometimes it’s just about safety.” Practicing inclusivity Ash Powers, a Colorado State University fifth-year social work major, said that being more conscious before speaking would help inclusivity. “We do not know people’s gender the way that gender has been constructed,”

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they said. “We think we’re able to know people’s genders based on dress or on voice or name.” Powers explained that neutralizing and expanding on gendered language as we know it will be a major step in the right direction.

Patterson said that speaking more generically will allow trans individuals to feel they are part of the conversation. Saying phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” isn’t necessary anymore, especially since society is less formal, Patterson explained.

“I’ve noticed with folks my age or a little younger that they’ve already been kind of eliminating (gender specific language) or just waiting to use it when they find out someone’s gender,” Powers said.

Additionally, being supportive and listening is a way to move forward to a more inclusive world. “I think the best support that friends can give is just to say, ‘I’m going to walk this path with you, even if I don’t understand it,’” Patterson said. “‘I’m

going to listen, and I’m going to be a shoulder to cry on, and when things are hard, I’ll be there, and when things are good, I want to hear about it.’” Finding comfort in being yourself Kaz explained that it’s okay if someone starts doing something to affirm their identity and it doesn’t feel right. Telling them, out of fear, to not pursue a path that may or may not help them be who they are is taking away the opportunity for someone to learn about themself. Hendrickson explained that finding opportunities where you can be “totally and authentically yourself” is a way to help navigate barriers trans individuals may face, whether it is through virtual communities or chat groups. “I think a lot of people are afraid of that, ‘Oh, we’re breaking humanity because we’re trans,’” Patterson said. “It’s like, ‘No, admitting that we’re trans and embracing that is fixing what’s broken.’” Finding comfort also comes from just being — something that a lot of trans people struggle with, according to Patterson. This can help individuals eventually feel comfortable with their bodies, she said. If someone begins to socially or medically transition and they realize that that is not who they are through that, Kaz said that’s okay and “there’s no wrong way to do it.” “All I can say is I’m more comfortable now than I have ever been,” Kaz said. Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

SEE GALLERY ON PAGES 12 & 13 >>



PHOTOS BY COLIN SHEPHERD Colorado State University junior and women’s and gender studies major Kaz Smith had top surgery on Jan. 28. All photos shown here were taken from Jan. 29 to Nov. 5. Collegian photographer Colin Shepherd followed Kaz’s journey and documented it in photos.



TRANSGENDER HEALTH CARE: SHIFTING TO THE CONVENTIONAL

Prescription testosterone, which is used by transgender men to assist with gender dysphoria by causing biological changes, lays on a table Nov. 3. PHOTO BY COLIN SHEPHERD THE COLLEGIAN

Dr. Cherie Worford speaks about the resources available to the transgender community through the Colorado State University Health Network Nov. 5. PHOTO BY MATT TACKETT THE COLLEGIAN

By Dorina Vida @simply_she_

Medical care for transgender and gender nonbinary people varies in accessibility and practice throughout the country. At Colorado State University’s Health Network, it’s become more mainstream. Dr. Cherie Worford is the clinical supervisor of the Women’s and Gender Care Clinic at CSU’s Health Network and a medical physician subtrained in obstetrics and gynecology. One of Worford’s primary duties is to aid transgender and gender nonbinary people interested in medically transitioning via hormone injections. “Medical transition is for patients who are identifying as transgender and are

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looking to take medications to potentially cause some external changes, … aligning internal gender identity with external gender (appearance),” Worford said. According to Worford, the general process begins with an introductory meeting in which the doctor and patient go over the patient’s general health history and things that could potentially affect them being on medications. This is followed by a discussion of the patient’s history with gender dysphoria, internal distress caused when an individual’s gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, she explained. During this conversation, the doctor and patient discuss what aspects of their gender identity they find dysphoric and what the patient hopes to gain from being prescribed hormones, Worford said.

This includes short- and long-term goals, where on the gender spectrum the patient wants to transition toward and what they may want to accomplish overall by medically transitioning, she said. “CSU in general, as most clinics now — which is good — run on what’s called the informed consent model,” Worford said. This model requires medical professionals to educate their patients on what medical procedures are and the benefits and the risks involved, according to Worford. Due to this practice, patients know what it is they want and the effects the medical practices can have prior to consenting to taking medications, she said. “I essentially talk to patients about ... what this (process) is, what hormones are, this is what they do, these are the benefits we see, these are the potential risks (and seeing if people are) still interested in doing it,” Worford said. According to Worford, medical professionals don’t have to be involved in counseling nor do hormone suppliers require the approval of a mental health provider for a patient to qualify for hormones. Before the implementation of the Health Network’s current practices, a patient had to pass certain criteria to be approved for any method of medical transitioning. They had to live as their desired and identified gender for a year before they could get approved to transition. This came with a lot of psychological and social safety issues associated with it, Worford said. According to Worford, some patients come in the first day, and they know exactly what they want. For others, it takes a couple appointments and consultations for them to think things through and decide if they want to proceed toward a hormone treatment or if they aren’t ready to take that step yet. “We try to be as straightforward as possible,” Worford said. “It’s available, we’re here to do it, we’re happy to see you. Let us know how we can help, all without making it an overly medicalized situation.” For a full gender transition, from start to finish, the process can take up to three to five years depending on how far into the transition the patient would like to go, according to Worford. In transgender women, breast development may take a long time, while in transgender men, their voice may deepen quickly but their facial and body hair growth can take longer, she said. For gender nonbinary individuals or those who’d like an androgynous appearance, it may take less time in total, Worford explained. Prescribed hormone doses vary for each person and where on the gender spectrum they’d like to be. An increase in dosage doesn’t necessarily speed up the process. For some, it simply increases the symptoms, Worford said. “It can be a slow process,” Worford said. “I tell people it’s a similar concept to puberty. For a majority of us, puberty does not happen overnight. ... Most of us didn’t really enjoy it. It’s like a second puberty.” Jill Vesty is a family nurse practitioner who works alongside Worford at the CSU Health Network. She aids in educating patients on the process of taking hormones, helping them decide what steps to take on their journey through transitioning. Vesty has worked with the Health Network for 10 years and was on staff when it started to implement transgender health care. “I care about people, I care about society,” Vesty said. “I think everybody deserves health care, and I want to help people access it.”

According to Vesty, the CSU Health Network has largely mirrored the type of care that has become more normalized throughout the United States for this community. A type of health care that was once thought to be specialized, transgender care has become more incorporated into general, primary care, Vesty explained. “I think it’s great when a transgender student can come in with any number of medical issues, ... and the same clinician can manage all of those medical issues,” Vesty said. “It increases access if you have more general family practitioners … to provide this care as part of their routine.” According to Vesty, this improves awareness across the spectrum and makes resources more widely known. This allows individuals who are on their way to transitioning to become aware of what is available, she said.

“We try to be as straightforward as possible. It’s available, we’re here to do it, we’re happy to see you. Let us know how we can help, all without making it an overly medicalized situation.” DR. CHERIE WORFORD CSU WOMEN’S AND GENDER CARE CLINIC CLINICAL SUPERVISOR, MEDICAL PHYSICIAN

Vesty said the Health Network does not provide specialty care like plastic surgery. However, they are always able to recommend services that are both financially and regionally accessible for their patients. Dr. Paul Steinwald is a plastic surgeon with the Center for Cosmetic Surgery, located in Denver. A specialty to his practice is his chest masculinization procedure, otherwise known as top surgery. According to Steinwald, he is one of the few plastic surgeons that, when removing breasts, will try to keep the breast attached, specifically the nipple. While this is considered to be a more difficult procedure that has risks, Steinwald said it is more likely to retain sensation in the area. While other surgeons generally take the nipple off and graft it back on, Steinwald prefers to only do that for individuals with larger breasts, size DD or higher. “It heals better than a graft ever would,” Steinwald said. “And you can adjust it or revise it later with everything still attached, versus grafting.” According to Steinwald, it’s really about how the patient will scar. If the nipple looks good two weeks after the procedure, then the patient is in a good place. Otherwise, the need for revision would be considered. Overall, it’s a very well-tolerated procedure with “a 95% success rate for nipple survival, and that’s key,” Steinwald said. Steinwald has been working with the transgender community for the majority of his career, his first experience occurring in 2002. “It’s a very wonderful population of patients,” Steinwald said. “I think they should be treated like everyone else, with good, safe care and respect.” His staff has reported positively when working with individuals within the community. “We don’t question their motives,” Steinwald said. “It’s a legitimate procedure, and we are providing a service without judgement.” Dorina Vida can be reached at news@collegian.com.


‘WE DIDN’T JUST ARRIVE’: PROFESSOR SHARES EXPERIENCE, TRANS RESEARCH well as an affiliated faculty member of the women’s studies program and the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research. Stewart explained how their trans Not only is D-L Stewart a professor identity has influenced how they teach in the Colorado State University School of their classes. Education and a co-coordinator of Student “I think being trans — as well as being Affairs in Higher Education, but they Black, queer, disabled, first (generation) are extensively published on how higher and growing up working class — has ineducation interacts with marginalized formed how I apcommunities. proach the work I do Stewart’s proas a professor,” Stewnouns are he/him/ art wrote. “It shapes his or they/them/ how I do my research theirs, and they are and what I focus a proud member on. It shapes how I of the transgender structure courses community. Stewart and the material I explained that their ask students to enjourney with their gage (in). It shapes gender identity has the what, how and been a long one. why of my camps “It’s been proand professional sergressive, like a gradvices.” ual awakening that According to didn’t really begin in their CSU biography, earnest until I was in Stewart is an author, my mid-30s,” Steweditor or co-editor of art wrote in an email four books and the to The Collegian. author of nearly 50 “Gender is complex journal articles and and multifaceted. It book chapters. Their took a lot of time in work centers around PHOTO COURTESY OF D-L STEWART reflection, talking how gender, sexualiwith other trans ty, race, religion and people who I was in culture intersect with higher education. relationship with and, for me, reading to Stewart explained that their research continue to work through it all.” is fueled by personal experience. Stewart received their Ph.D. in educa“These foci were important to me tional administration and higher education because of my own lived experiences and from Ohio State University in 2001 and has those of the people around me,” Stewart worked as a faculty member at various uniwrote. “These were important to me beversities ever since, according to their CV. cause of my elders and my ancestors.” Stewart came to CSU in 2017 where Through their research, Stewart highthey have served as the co-chair of SAHE as lighted several notes of importance. Stew-

By Meagan Stackpool @MeaganStackpool

D-L Stewart speaks at the “Being Black and...” series at the Lory Student Center Feb. 21, 2019. PHOTO BY ANNA VON PECHMANN THE COLLEGIAN

D-L Stewart, a professor in the Colorado State University School of Education, discusses the intersectionality of being both transgender and Black at the annual TEDxCSU conference in the Lory Student Center Theatre March 9, 2019. COLLEGIAN FILE PHOTO

art said that students who are marginalized not progressed at the same rate. People are by race, sexuality, gender, disability or so- still fixated on our bodies, on biomedical cial class and students who hold privileged transition and on where and how we use identities have very different campus expe- the bathroom.” Beyond this view of the trans commuriences and minoritized students are very nity being reductionist, Stewart expressed aware of this. Stewart also found that institutions of how this narrative is harmful. “It’s a really superficial, monolithic higher education have yet to make substantive changes structurally or systematically and dangerous view of trans people that to address these disparities. They found has led to the murder and social exclusion that the importance of community has a of, particularly, Black and other trans women of color,” Stewart wrote. strong influence on higher education. That is not to “Minoritized say that Stewart students have always built their “I would like to see trans people’s does not have hope for the future for own systems and humanity valued through such trans awareness. structures to rethings as recognizing and Stewart said they sist and persevere hope to see more within higher affirming the heterogeneity of understanding of education and our community ... and deepening the harm and inaccontinue to make knowledge of trans people curacy caused by demands upon the rigidity of the institutional leadthroughout history.” gender binary to ership,” Stewart D-L STEWART allow for more inwrote. SCHOOL OF EDUCATION PROFESSOR clusive spaces. In the future, “I would like Stewart hopes to to see trans peoexpand their research to youth. They said they also want to ple’s humanity valued through such things include a critical discourse analysis of uni- as recognizing and affirming the heterogeneity of our community ... and deepening versity diversity strategic plans. “(I) want to study what helps minori- knowledge of trans people throughout histized youth exiting high school learn, grow tory,” Stewart wrote. Stewart has a message for anyone who and become during emerging adulthood within and beyond higher education,” is exploring their own gender identity, referencing a trans activist, CeCe McDonald, Stewart wrote. Over the course of their life, Stewart saying people can love themself, and f*ck has watched the changing perceptions of anyone else. They said to remember that they are trans people within mainstream media. They expressed that while trans people real, valid and deserve respect and dignity. “We didn’t just arrive,” Stewart may be more visible, that does not neceswrote. “It’s not a fad. And we’re not going sarily mean their visibility is all positive. “I’ve seen trans people be more in the anywhere.” Meagan Stackpool can be reached at public eye — not always in a positive way,” Stewart wrote. “But trans awareness has news@collegian.com.

Transgender Awareness Week

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PHOTO COURTESY OF KAZ SMITH