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Wednesday January 26th

Pronouns get positive light in the Pit for Transgender Day of Visibility

Jenna Travis, Da'Shawnda Laniqua Jackson, Megan Dew, Giulia Curcelli, and Josh Wigfall celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday morning
Buy Photos Jenna Travis, Da'Shawnda Laniqua Jackson, Megan Dew, Giulia Curcelli, and Josh Wigfall celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday morning

Volunteers passed out pronoun buttons in the Pit to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday. 

The Sexuality and Gender Alliance's event, "Pronouns in the Pit," sought to educate students about the lives of transgender people in a positive and uplifting manner. 

Lauren Martin, president of SAGA, said the day was founded by a transgender woman who wanted a day to celebrate transgender people.

“She saw that we had Trans Day of Remembrance. We had all these sad, negative ways of thinking about transgender people, and she was like, ‘No, we need a day where it’s more positive, like trans is beautiful,’” Martin said. 

She said she thinks Transgender Day of Visibility is particularly relevant right now.

“It’s especially important to focus on Trans Day of Visibility because H.B.2 specifically places trans bodies in a very direct, extremely transphobic and transmisogynistic way," she said. 

"I think it’s really important to … (draw) attention to trans people, like making them visible and empowering them. Celebrating trans identities is really important, especially at this time." 

Giulia Curcelli, who uses the pronoun "they," is a member of SAGA and volunteered at "Pronouns in the Pit."

“I think it’s really important to normalize asking everybody their pronoun, so it’s not unusual if a trans person asks to use a certain pronoun and because that is such a common micro-aggression that trans people face is having somebody use the wrong pronouns for them,” Curcelli said.

Curcelli said the event received mostly positive feedback from UNC students and even high school tour groups.

Gray Rodgers, a member of SAGA, said he thinks "he" as a default pronoun is patriarchal and the use of just "he" and "she" encourages a gender binary. 

“I think that we need to stop looking at sex recognition and be more open to understanding people’s gender identities as well, and I think that language is a huge part of that,” Rodgers said.

Justin Marcellus, a junior who went to the event, said he thinks transgender issues need more attention in the LGBT community.

“I really do think it’s important because even being a part of the LGBTQ community myself, this is something that’s important that gets pushed under the rug by our community,” he said.

Marcellus said he thinks not using someone’s preferred pronouns is offensive.

Rodgers said he thinks people should ask what people’s pronouns are instead of making assumptions about gender identity based on appearance.

“It’s really important to just be conscious and not fall into cis-normative, ‘somebody looks this way so we call them this’ way — but just asking," he said. "It’s so important for the trans community or anyone that’s queer.”

Gabrielle James, a first-year, also said she thinks calling someone by the wrong pronoun is disrespectful.

“I think it’s important to respect what people identify as … At the end of the day, it’s none of our business. You should have enough for your fellow person to call them what they want to be called,” James said.

Curcelli said they think it is important to address the systemic issues facing the transgender community. 

“I think that there are a lot of people in the trans community who can’t be visible because of the incredible threat of violence that exists towards trans people, especially trans women of color," they said. "And so I think that for those of us who feel comfortable being visible, it’s important to be present and have a good understanding that we’re here.”

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