Ending discrimination against transgender Kansans through education
by Sarah Boone
“Knowledge and information are the keys to acceptance and understanding,” a poem on the website for the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (KSTEP) reads. Executive Director and President of KSTEP, Stephanie Mott, definitely seems to agree. This is what makes their conference, TransKansas, stick out from the rest.
Mott says, “We [KSTEP] formed with a mission to end discrimination towards transgender Kansans and their families. In Kansas and neighboring states, the discrimination is horrifying.” The need for TransKansas is crucial for this reason and many others.
KSTEP started in August of 2010. They have been persistent in their belief that education can end discrimination throughout their whole journey. The education that they offer is through workshops, presentations, consulting, support and providing information and resources. In summary, as Mott claims, they offer “basically anything we can do to help and support people who are transgender.”
KSTEP holds an educational conference called TransKansas that provides all of this education. “We have an attorney from Tulsa, Oklahoma who is going come up and talk about the history of transgender rights as well as new developments in federal policy that is regarding people who are transgender.
“We’re going to have workshops on Two Spirits, language and transitioning on a budget. The local jail has a transgender policy, so the director of that department is going to come do a couple presentations about how they work with transgender inmates. We’re going to have a variety of workshops,” Mott explains.
“It’s basically two days of workshops and a total of about 30 workshops on all kinds of topics related to being transgender.”
She goes on to further explain, “We’re trying to have four sections each day, four workshops in each section, and have one section each day on ‘Transgender and…’,” wherein you can be transgender and something else (for example, a person of color). “We’ll have those workshops on intersexuality, transgender people of color, transgender people who are physically challenged, and then transgender youth.
“What we want to provide is a space where, for a couple of days, people can just be who they are and not have to worry about who’s going to see them or worry about whether or not they’re safe or anything like that.”
Mott says that TransKansas is able to be so affordable to attendees because of their amazing sponsors. She explains that they have spaces lent to them, and they have never had to pay for somewhere to hold their conferences.
The TransKansas 2016 conference is the fourth annual conference. “The first two [conferences] had 100 people, maybe 110. Last year we had about 150, which I’m expecting to break this time,” Mott excitedly claims.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding on what it means to be any sexual origin or minority. We’re just a part of the natural spectrum of creation and I’m not sure why people have so much of a problem with it. But education seems to be a big part of the answer,” Mott says.
The TransKansas conference is being held on August 26 and 27 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, which is located at 4775 SW 21st St in Topeka, Kansas. Admission costs $10, $5 for students, or free for individuals who volunteer four or more hours.
TransKansas information can be obtained through their website at www.TransKansas.com, on the Facebook page TransKansas or by emailing them at TransKansas@gmail.com. There is also a website for the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project at www.kstep.org.
Copyright The Gayly – August 8, 2016 @ 7:35 a.m.