Duo seek to educate about gender fluidity and affirmation

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Kemptville will welcome two people next week dedicated to erasing gender stereotypes and educating the public about transgender and gender diverse individuals.

Behc Jax-Lynx and Cara Tierney both identify outside the gender binary, meaning that they don’t identify as either a man or a woman. Both use the they/them/their pronouns instead of the typical he/she that dominates our culture.

Through their work as an artist and student, Cara has spent the majority of their life researching gender roles and gender diversity and figuring out what that means to them. “I wanted to figure out who I was, my gender, my sexual orientation and I did that through books,” Cara says. “If it took me three university degrees to get here I wondered how other people were figuring it out for themselves.”

About a year ago, Cara met Behc, a former social worker who has a lot of experience working with trans and gender diverse youth. They resigned from 15 years within main stream social service organizations because of the ways that the medical field was dealing with kids, youth and adults who were expressing themselves in ways that were outside the norm of the male or female gender. The narrative in the conversations, teachings, research and methodology when dealing with trans youth is that they need to be assessed, diagnosed and then forced to choose which gender category they would like to identify as. “They direct them into the binary models of male or female without giving them the agency and first voice validation that the youth are the experts themselves in their body, lives and experiences,” Behc says. “For over a decade that has been a huge weight and extremely problematic for me both in my practice and the narratives that I have to circulate as best practices within medical, health and social services.”

Both Behc and Cara want to take the conversation out of doctors’ offices and hospitals, where a lot of people end up, and out into the community. “The solution is not to take your child to a hospital because they are going to associate that with illness,” Cara says. They decided to take on the challenge of holding workshops in the small towns surrounding Ottawa because many people have to drive into the city to access services regarding gender and identity. “We thought why not bring the conversation to them and do it in a way that we’re bringing art, humour and our own experiences and levity to the topic,” Cara says. “People associate having a trans identity with challenge and struggle. That is part of it but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be something really empowering, liberating and celebratory.”

The duo is holding two presentations titled “Q: Are you are girl or a boy A: no thanks” on Monday, January 29, 2018 at Geraldine’s Gallery at 2505 County Road 43. The first will be from 1-4pm and geared specifically towards professionals who want to learn more about the de-stigmatization of transgender individuals, best practices, gender affirmation, human rights policy C-16 and equity for universal gender diversity. A shorter version of the presentation will be in the evening from 6-8pm tailored for parents and caregivers of children and youth who are exploring their sexuality and gender identity. Both workshops are $15 and tickets can be purchased at the door or at www.behcjaxlynx.ca. “This is about creating an access point for this kind of conversation to take place,” Cara says, “We invite people to come and ask those tough questions. That’s what we’re trying to draw out, so we can have honest, open and hopefully healing and productive conversations.”

To learn more about Cara and Behc’s initiatives, visit their website at www.buildingthrougheducationandcommunityknowledge.wordpress.com.

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