A new era for LGBT students at DCCC

By Ke’Aysha Strand-Young

Members of the L Brands group carry balloons during the 2017 Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade in Columbus, Ohio on June 17, 2017. (Brooke LaValley/Dispatch)

DCCC counselor, Chris Dungee, hosted “LGBTQ 101 – Creating a Safe Space for our LGBTQ community at DCCC” at the Marple campus on Sept. 19 to provide information about the LGTBQ community and raise awareness among faculty and staff to create a safe campus environment for the LGBTQ community.

Dungee, a self-described ally to the LGBTQ community, said that he is openly transgender.

Dungee discussed issues that have occurred in the community over the last four years, such as workplace, healthcare, and housing discrimination based on one’s gender identity or sexuality.

He explained the transitioning process, and the different forms of transitioning, such as hormone therapy, gender confirmation surgery, and legally changing their name.

Dungee also talked about how physical sex, gender identity, and gender expression differ from one another.

“Everyone has a gender identity that can differ from their sex,” Dungee said. “Gender identity is who people know themselves to be.”

To begin the presentation, Dungee gave a brief overview of LGBTQ history.

He explained the acronym “LGBTQ” (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer/questioning), and the definition of each term.

Next, Dungee went on to explain the difference between sex, gender, and gender expression. Everyone has a gender expression, a gender identity, and a physical sex, according to Dungee.

Gender expression can be defined as how you present yourself to the world, such as how you talk, your speech pattern, dress, and so on.

“We immediately pick up on gender expression,” Dungee said. “We can’t ignore masculinity and androgyny; we all pick up on that.”

Dungee explained that gender expression and gender identity are occurring at the same time, whether someone identifies as a man or a woman.

Following the discussion about gender identity, Dungee touched on the terms “transgender,” “nonbinary,” and their respected pronouns: a transgender person is someone whose self-identity does not match the sex ascribed to them at birth, and non-binary is an umbrella term covering any gender identity that does not fit within the gender binary.

Then Dungee talked about pronouns, such as they/them, she/her, he/him, as well as how faculty and students should be mindful by asking someone their preferred pronouns if they are unsure.

“Everyone has different preferred pronouns,” he explained. “If you aren’t quite sure of their pronouns, ask, because it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

They/Them are the best terms to use if you aren’t sure of someone’s preferred pronouns, Dungee said.

Dungee also explained that the college is doing their best to provide a specific gender field for students who do not identify within the options provided.

DCCC does have a preferred gender identity alternative, which is “other,” but the college should also find ways to utilize the many terms that students may use and feel more comfortable using to identify themselves, according to Dungee.

“The college unfortunately doesn’t have a way to have a preferred name field in the college online application and many students haven’t been able to legally change their names,” Dungee added.

He also said that colleges should be able to track student population and that it is vital to know what student’s gender identity is so that everyone is included in the system.

Later in the presentation, he gave a timeline of issues that have affected the LGBTQ community over the last four years.

For example, in October 2017, the Department of Justice said the law doesn’t prohibit job discrimination based on gender identity.

“Federally, they stripped the protection on the state level,” Dungee began. “In Pennsylvania, the state I live in, I could technically be fired because of my gender identity.”

Dungee also explained that in February 2018, the DOJ argued that the Civil Rights Act does not protect workers against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Eventually, he discussed transgender people in the military and the treatment they endure.

“In April 2019, trans people are no longer allowed to enlist in the military,” he said.

As the presentation ended, Dungee gave a list of helpful resources and organizations that support the LGBTQ community, such as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and the Human Rights Campaign.

He also listed other helpful resources such as The Trevor Project, PFLAG (Parents, Family, Friends, and Allies of Lesbians and Gays), The Safe Zone Project, and Planned Parenthood.

“We mainly think of Planned Parenthood for women and reproductive health, but they do a lot for the LGBTQ community,” Dungee said.

Lastly, he talked about the importance of raising awareness of the LGBTQ community, passing laws to protect the LGBTQ community, incorporating LGBTQ in school curriculum, and devising solutions for tackling discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

It is vital for LGBTQ issues to be addressed in college curriculums to support students who identify as LGBTQ or who know someone in the community, according to Dungee.

Being an equal part of society, regardless of one’s orientation and gender identity, is one of the biggest social issues globally right now, he said.

“The world is never ever going to have full equality in any aspect,” Dungee said. “It’s just human nature, but it can definitely be better. This is the best time in history to be LGBTQ, and I just hope that it continues.”

Contact Ke’Aysha Strand-Young at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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