Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but Reagan McSwain paved some new roads at Humber College.
Humber journalism student McSwain felt flustered that school paperwork only listed male or female check-mark boxes, forms that divided the world into two.
In reaction he said he listed every possible gender identity when dealing with paperwork to make a point.
Once at the school Registrar’s office, the woman handling his paperwork said she’d worked with his kind of situation. McSwain was baffled by the lack of education and sensitivity from someone sitting at the front of the school entrance.
His experiences were shared during a discussion that took place after the screening of Pay It No Mind: Marsha P. Johnson, part of Humber’s Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.
As with McSwain’s experience, the talk indicated that Humber still has improvements to make.
Johnson went down in history as a pioneer in gay activism and as a proud drag queen in the 1940s to 1990s. Her allure and generosity received enough recognition for her to become the muse of artist Andy Warhol.
But to many in the LGBTQ+ community she is much more than a famous portrait of chicken noodle soup.
Natalie Elisha, the program coordinator for the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre, said she plans to have more discussion groups similar to the one at last week’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, despite only 10 people showing up.
A New York City civil rights incident in 1969 known as the Stonewall riots outlined the era in which Johnson strutted her liberty. A film based on the Stonewall riots, released this year, focused on a gay male teenager and is similar to the Johnson film. Elisha said she watched it and found it empowering.
But watching Johnson’s film was a different experience, she said. It made a statement that there are different faces and a whole spectrum to the LGBTQ+ community.
Kenny Dawkins, a Humber Lakeshore Police Foundations student, hosted the discussion after the film. All the hate and misunderstanding towards the LGBTQ+ community stems from people not being educated properly, he said.
Charlie Crawford attended the event and has been part of the community for over four years now. Crawford prefers the pronoun “they”. This community is a part of their identity, said Crawford.
“It can be really hard outside of spaces like this,” Crawford said.
This new centre has helped Crawford find a space where they don’t feel the need to worry about masking their identity.
Thomas Silcox-Childs is Humber co-chair of gender and sexuality diversity community. This program was able to provide the space for the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre, which opened on Oct. 29. There were “literally students waiting for it to open,” said Silcox-Childs.
Maureen Carnegie, also a co-chair, said that there is still a long way to go when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.
During the discussion Carnegie proposed that everyone pitch ideas on how to improve paperwork processes to avoid awkward situations like that McSwain experienced.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is for anyone oppressed, said Silcox-Childs, while spaces such as the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre provides a safe place to convene for students from that community.
The hours for the center are currently noon to 3 p.m., but Elisha hopes to have the hours extended in the near future.
Silcox-Childs and Elisha encourage everyone to visit the new LGBTQ+ space.
“Come with an open heart and a good intention,” said Silcox-Childs.