Thursday, February 12th, 12:00-1:30 PM in the Ehrlicher Room (411 West Hall)
Join the Library Diversity Committee (LDC) next week for a lunchtime panel discussion of transgender-related topics. We will have three panelists: Denise Brogan-Kator, Managing Attorney of the Rainbow Law Center; Andre Wilson, former lead negotiator for the GEO (Graduate Employees’ Organization); and current SI student Anand Kalra. Pizza will be provided.  For more information on this topic, visit the Spectrum Center website at:

Although I was familiar with the general terminology and had an overview of transgender-related topics and, coincidentally, also had known Andre personally by another name and another gender, years ago, I left the presentation at 1:30 knowing indescribably more about the topic than when we arrived at the Ehrlicher Room at noon.  In fact, I felt the way one feels when one has seen a heart-rending, wonderfully executed movie–as if it had entered my mind to the extent that it had become a part of my own life experience.

Andre, Anand, and Denise had all had lived completely different lives, but as each panelist skillfully narrated his/her personal tale, the common thread of gender confusion and subsequent deep unhappiness was revealed.  I doubt that there was even one person in the room who was not affected by all three stories.  And, to my way of thinking, one could almost identify with each narrative, in that but for the vagaries of biology and/or the Fate or a Deity–whichever one believes in–the situation could have been one’s own.  I think I can say without hyperbole that it was a transformative presentation for many in the audience.

Fast-forwarding to the segment that involves libraries and librarians (apart from the sponsorship and site of the panel presentation), I can report that Andre mentioned that as a much-scorned, picked-on, bullied, and generally disliked youth, he spent lots of time hiding out in the school library; in fact, he never ate lunch, fearing to enter the hostile territory of the cafeteria, but spent the time putting plastic  covers on the books and helping the librarian.  Further, this librarian first exposed him to the possibility of a girl taking a boy’s role–through a book she left out about a woman who fought in the Civil War.   Andre also lauded the web site of the San Francisco Public Library for its open display of transsexual literature.  He stated that he almost literally owes his life to two thoughtful and caring librarians.   Andre suggested that librarians should continue to distribute such sorely needed information on this still extremely stigmatized and little understood topic and should leave such books around for vulnerable youth to discover (“Be a slob–leave your books lying around”).