By Destiny Ramos
On April 17th, former ESU student Evan Lempke visited Stroud Hall to talk about his experiences as a transgender man and have a discussion with current students and faculty about transgender inclusion on campus.
After realizing he was transgender while watching “The L Word” on Showtime, Lempke came out in 2009 at the age of 19. He spent a two-year period attending therapy sessions before he was able to medically transition and begin his hormone replacement therapy.
Lempke emphasized that each transgender person goes through a different journey, and it’s important that they be treated as an individual. He stressed the importance of asking questions.
“We don’t all go through the same experiences. You need to ask what they’re okay with talking about and what they don’t want to talk about,” Lempke said.
The first question should ask for their pronouns, as it would be a great way to help someone who identifies as transgender feel comfortable.
Another topic Lempke touched upon was things that universities can do to create safe spaces for transgender individuals. He pointed out that bathrooms on ESU’s campus seem to be very genderized and don’t provide a safe option for transgender people.
Lempke further went on to say that a way to make new transgender students aware of safe spaces in ESU would be to have either the pride flag or transgender flags, as well as having informational pamphlets available for students.
He also stressed the importance of people being cautious when talking about transgender people.
“You can’t force somebody to come out,” said Lempke, “Outing somebody when they’re not ready to come out can be very damaging.”
Lempke graduated in 2017 and now works for the Allentown Women’s Health Center. He works with transgender patients to ensure that they are getting the proper hormones and help them through the process of getting gender markers on driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and passports.
An opportunity to ask questions was offered during Lempke’s visit. He explained how some sex reassignment surgeries work, as well as different forms of hormone replacement medication.
Openness was a main topic of discussion. Lempke emphasized the importance of not being afraid to ask questions, and letting trans people know that there is a safe place for them both on and off campus.
“I would just reinforce openness,” said Lempke, “Just be open because life is scary but it’s definitely a lot scarier when you know that you’re alone and you think that nobody is going to accept you for who you are.”
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