The transgender norm

Kelly (L) and Colle (R) answer question in the Q & A portion after the video showing (Don Congjuico)

Don Congjuico

As the video came to a close the floor was open to questions about the 45-minute video and a personal example of what the video is all about.

Colle Carpenter, a transgendered individual, opened his life to the group about the struggles, triumphs, hardships and wisdom he had gained so there is a better understanding of why he chose to live the way he lived.

The last event of a week-long mind-opener called “Living in the Bubble: The Hidden Social Issues of Orange County,” ended with a video about people who are transgender titled, “Becoming Me: The Gender Within.” After the video there was a general discussion of the contents pertaining to the video and eventually leaked toward the guest speaker of the evening.

The two-hour-long event happened at Thursday, November 9, 2012.

Colle Carpenter, with his wife Kelly, walked toward the stage and entertained questions ranging from general questions about his sexuality to the life decisions he had made. Some questions bordered on the personal side of Colle which he answered with humor that kept the mood of the room upbeat.

Recounting his childhood history he said, “I grew up in North Idaho which is a farming community. Nobody ever had a problem with a girl walking out with jeans and a T-shirt so being a tomboy, you could say, was socially acceptable.”

He recounted his story about the terror he felt when he found out he wasn’t a lesbian but, in fact, wanted to be a man.

“Gender identity and sexual orientation is not the same. These are completely separate … I was never a dike or a lesbian. It is not a black and white issue,” Colle said.

He continued, “… the longer I waited to tell them, the worse I got. It never went away. It came to a point that I’m going to have to transition or I’m gonna kill myself.” Colle talked about how the transgender community is larger than what anyone thinks. Someone may know within their own circle of friends a person who is “trans” as he would call it.

After his retelling of his experience, coming out he later talked about dealing with the changes he faced as the opposite gender. He explains that he is open about his gender and is very secure on where he is today. He aims to help people who are not completely honest about their gender and show them that they are not alone. On the issue of being transgender he said, “I have spoken for immigration, homeland security … you name it; I’ve been there. Also hate crimes against the trans community are very high. 1 in 12 transgender people are murdered.”

For this reason Colle had asked not to disclose any information about his family and place of living for fear of their own safety. He is also a proud parent of a boy with his wife.

The event closed at exactly 9 p.m.


Students listen to Colle as he tells his story to the class (Don Congjuico)

The almost full lecture hall falls silent as the students listen to guest speaker Mr. Colle Carpenter (Don Congjuico)

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