2018 Speaker Series – The Trans Experience in Education
7pm – 9pm
Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
Registration is free – light refreshments will be served
Doors open at 6:30
Claire Birkenshaw was the first person to transition while working as a principal in Hull, England. Her journey started as a child when at four years old she felt she was faking being a boy. She grew up worried people would discover her secret. She felt shame. She felt guilt. And now after transitioning, she wants no child to suffer the same way. As she told a newspaper in Hull, “I also know that if I did nothing, then as an educationalist that believes in helping all children to feel that their life has meaning and purpose, I would be letting those transgendered children down that share those thoughts, feelings and fears that I had when I was growing up. After living so long feeling invisible, I wanted to make myself visible.”As a teacher she thought carefully about her decision to transition. And while she considered moving and starting over, she knew she wanted to “take everyone on this journey with me”. That meant staying put and helping everyone adjust to the change. The support overwhelmed her.
Now, she has taken on the challenge of breaking down the myths, stereotypes and stigma that children and young people feel when they discover they’re “in the wrong body”. She describes herself as Educationalist, Equality&Diversity Advocate, CEOP Ambassador, Former HT, Senior Advisor
#LGBTEd, LGBTQ+ Leeds Beckett University.
- Gaela Mintz is a social worker with the Toronto District School Board. She provides school support in gender diverse issues, runs gender independent groups for students and parents, and works toward a more gender inclusive environment through staff training.
- Cecilio Escobar is a trans individual who works at Centennial College and runs workshops for faculty on creating a trans inclusive environment.
- Michelle Sparrow is the mother of two boys. When her son Noah came out as transgender, Michelle wanted to connect him to other LGBTQ youth his own age, but found there were no programs for tweens in Toronto. Michelle and her husband became fundraisers and organizers, approaching Skylark Youth Services to create a program. It has been running now for a year.
Each guest will share their personal experiences of what it’s like transitioning while working in the school system, dealing with identity issues as a student, or being a parent or person who supports trans individuals. Inclusion and belonging are central themes to Roots of Empathy – as is empathy of course. Hopefully we’ll all gain some insight from their experiences in the school system, what works, and how things can improve.