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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scepter Newspaper: Envisioning Justice: the Journey of a Transgendered Woman by Claudia Kassab

“I’m such an agitator.” – Pauline Park

Activist Pauline Park visits Kingsborough community college with the intent to inspire and inform students about her life as well as her passion for improving transgender awareness and rights within society.
    Of Chinese decent, Pauline Park grew up in a household filled with customs and morals. She never really felt herself, as a boy. She valued education and thus pursued a PH.D in political science. She had a good career but gave it all up to live the life she always wanted to live. The hardest thing she ever had to do in her life was confronting her family and friends about her sexuality in a culture filled with honor and pride. She embraced her sexuality and survived the mockery and disdain from her family and acquaintances.
      Miss. Park moved to New York City and dedicated her time and patience to informing others about understanding transexuality and embracing their inner selves. Along with many publications, she also co-founded many associations such as The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) and the Queens Pride House (a Center for the LGBT Communities of Queens).  She is clearly passionate about her quest and continues to hold lectures throughout colleges within the nation.
     At Kingsborough, Miss. Park held a presentation called, “Envisioning Justice: the Journey of a Transgendered Woman”.  A good number of students gathered to watch this detailed presentation. A small screen was placed in the middle alongside two bouquets of rainbow colored balloons on each side. Pauline Park was featured in the documentary in which she was also the narrator. Her life story is depicted from when she was a youthful child until her older years as an activist. It was a very clear and organized pursuit, filled with images from her past and visited places from her present. It also showed parts of a stage performance where she along with other teenagers narrated her story probably from a prior lecture. It showed her participation in New York’s annual Gay Pride Parade.
     It was an informative yet enlightening presentation that helped her audience interpret her life and how she came across and understood her sexuality. It was very clear and precise mostly due to her articulate and formal way of speaking. I later experienced that first hand having the opportunity to interview her.
       Her purpose was clearly to show people how she embraced her sexuality and faced it with much understanding and strength giving others the strength to be able to do so to. She didn’t deny the fact that she felt more like a woman. She never resorted to plastic surgery or genital configuration to make herself seem more like a woman. She is against it and thus, I quote her, “For me being a trans gender identity is radically different from sex which is true for some, not others. One mustn’t have to identify as “transsexual” so undergoing surgery is unnecessary.” One must learn to love oneself and not change oneself to embody an image set out by society as either male or female.
        She hopes that by tell people her life story they can relate and possibly imitate because no one really knows how to face these kind of situations. What does one do when one realizes one’s sexuality? It’s a rarity to find people or family members who one can talk to about these issues. Most resort to lying to themselves to fit society’s standards or drowning in a depressive state. Many occasions recently have occurred where one can’t express their true sexuality in fear of being teased, bullied or hurt. Some commit suicide or end up running away from home at a young age. Other factors people face include unemployment for they either face discrimination or underwent constant harassment.  Pauline Park, I feel, is one of those people who commit to spreading the word and help to those who need it in order to prevent more unfortunate cases.
      In conclusion to her presentation, Ms. Park took the stand to answer any possible questions and comments from her audience. Many questions were relevant and informative, one particular individual however, I believe had nothing better to say and decided to run his mouth with nonsense. On the other corner, a group of male students laughed the whole presentation through and with that said, I pity her yet find her courageous. I believe that Ms. Park encounters close-minded individuals almost all the time to the point where she is forced to receive it with a collective polite tone. People fear change or laugh at what they don’t understand. Getting society to accept other sexuality apart from the norm will take time and hard work.
      As the room began to empty I remained behind in an attempt to gather more information as to her future goals and aspirations along with new projects. She accepted me with kindness and poise that I felt gave her such a charisma, I can’t seem to explain.
     She remains active in her many associations and wishes to hold more lectures. One endeavor she has been working on is getting a bill passed for healthcare for transsexuals who have problems when proving sexuality to receive a legal identification card to provide health insurance companies. When asked if she would be inspired to write a book, she giggles and responds to it being a possibility in the far future.  She left me with wise words for Kingsborough students, “Everyone probably knows a transsexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian person with or without realizing it, and one should come to terms with it. Give them the opportunity to speak. This is not an issue only for TBLG people, but for all of us and how we view gender. Everyone has a story.”

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