A minority within a minority

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

The transgendered population is being given more attention because of a week-long event organized by LGBTQ Coordinator Chris Jorgenson.

“The trans community certainly suffers a lot of discrimination,” he said. “So far as the LGBTQ community is concerned, they would suffer the most. I think a lot of that is based on misinformation, it’s based on ignorance, it’s based on people making judgments about a community they know nothing about.”

A documentary about one person’s transgender experience, “No Dumb Questions,” was shown in Woodland Theater at the Davies Center on Wednesday.

Other events include speaker Ann Hoeppner, a lesbian transsexual who has been a part of the Eau Claire community for many years, Jessica Janiuk, a UW-Eau Claire alum who transitioned while attending college, and Alex Hall, a medical doctor specializing in not only general and women’s medicine, but also focuses on transgender medicine.

For six semesters she worked with graduate students at Eau Claire to achieve a woman’s voice, which she spoke about at the event.

Hoeppner answered questions students and guests had about her process of transitioning from a life known as Art Hoeppner. This included speaking candidly about the relationship she has with her wife of 44 years.

“I’m a lesbian,” she said. “But Jane is not. She loves the person. I’ve recently heard this new term, pansexual. It is when you love the person and not the gender.”

As a result of the discrimination transgendered and transsexual people face, Jorgenson said he decided to put this event together in order to help others who may be curious but tentative in regard to learning more about this particular group of people.

“There’s a lot of misinformation, there’s a lot of cultural taboo about being trans,” Jorgenson said. “Each of the events will have components to it that will allow students or any attendees — students, faculty, staff, community members — to ask their questions anonymously if they’re too afraid. I think it would be very shocking if they got a question that they hadn’t heard before.”

Hoeppner said that causes like Trans*- Mission week are important because transgender and transsexual individuals want to be seen as just people and not as a group of outsiders to the human experience.

“Don’t judge us,” Hoeppner said. “Only one guy is going to judge me and hopefully I’ll meet him one day.”
She added that she is glad the main goal is to educate people about transsexuals and the issues they face.

Hoeppner also spoke of her experiences with family and how she felt before having sexual reassignment surgery, or what she prefers to call ‘corrective surgery.’

“I would have to say that now I am very happy,” Hoeppner said. “Before, I just got by. I felt like I had had a tumor removed.”
Relaying that generally people do not understand the work that goes into transitioning, Hoeppner said that every expense was out-of-pocket and that no procedure is by any means cheap, citing some surgeries at as much as $50,000.

Hall will speak on Friday in the Chancellor’s Room about the time that some surgeries take to be fully completed.