Feb 15, 2019

Transgender activist talks gender dysmorphia

The Sociology Department held an event yesterday not just for students, but the transgender community in Fresno as well.

Karen Adell Scot, a transgender woman and activist who teaches at Yosemite High School in Oakhurst, spoke on Thursday to give students a peek into the tough transition and challenges she and others face every day.

“Gender dysmorphia is a real issue. 42 percent of [transgender] attempt suicide,” Scot said.

Dr. Linda Vang, a sociology professor, discussed her first encounter with Scot and the importance of the event.

“Every year I have a panel of students who are transgender,” she said. “One of them mentioned having Scot as a teacher in high school and suggested her to me.”

“People identify themselves in many ways and it’s important for people to know that.”

Scot told the audience as she has felt like a woman for as long as she could remember, about eventually having a successful career in martial arts and the being in the military despite suffering from gender dysmorphia.

“Imagine being on the beach,” Scot said, “Then you’re in the water, and suddenly hundreds of waves are crashing down on you. You struggle to get out, but it continues to keep you down.”

Following a video in which she documented her surgical procedures, Scot described her transitional journey and how she caught the attention of media outlets from all over the world.

“People believe it to be selfish, and we don’t act the way they think we should,” she said. “We are who we are, and it’s tough for people to understand that.”

Although many continue to struggle in transitioning, Vang said she believes in this generation of students and regards it as being more open and accepting than generations before.

“I feel there is momentum in your generation for a great deal of acceptance, and I see it in my classroom,” Vang said.

Vang hoped the event left a lasting impression on students and others who attended.  She described the event as following the school’s model of “diversity, discovery and distinction.”

“What I hope is they’ll understand the transgender continuum of gender, understanding acceptance of people for how they identify themselves,” shesaid.  “There may be a time where they’ll work in society with transgender people. The more they understand, the more effective they will be.”

Scot has established a national organization known as TransCare, which supports transgender people in the stress of the transition process. Transgender Day of Remembrance, on Nov. 20, also memorializes those who have been killed as a result of transphobia.

“No matter what I went through, it was because I wanted to do it,” Scot said.  “I’m finally making myself right.”

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