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Julia Serano speaks at Dal about transgender rights

Prominent transgender activist’s speech draws packed crowd

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On the evening of Oct. 22, roughly a hundred people crammed into a small room at the Goldberg Computer Science Building to hear writer, biologist and transgender activist Julia Serano talk.

Serano’s new book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive came out last year.

Serano, who is a trans woman, has been an activist in California for nearly 20 years.

Her previous book, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, is a collection of essays on myths and misconceptions people have about transgender women.

Serano says inclusiveness is a larger factor in queer and feminist movements. She adds that intersectionality, where different forms of marginalization can intersect with one another, also has to be considered in these movements.

DalOut organized the event, with 240 people responding to the Facebook invitation.

Because of the popularity of Serano’s talk, DalOut asked cisgender people (those whose gender matches the sex assigned at birth) to consider leave room for transgender people to attend the event.

DalOut posted on the event page page requesting “if you’re a cis person trying to find a spot, please consider listening from outside or in the back and allowing a trans person to get in to see Julia speak.”

Jessica Dempsey, a trans activist in the city and MC for the event, says this wasn’t meant to be exclusive towards cis people, but rather to create a safe space for transgender people.

“There are a lot of places I can’t go in the city because it’s not safe,” says Dempsey, who is a trans woman. “Organizations like DalOut are all about creating safe spaces for anyone who falls under the queer umbrella.”

Dempsey and fellow Halifax trans activist Jessica Durling introduced the event. Dempsey spoke about her experience transitioning.

“Sharing my story is still difficult,” says Dempsey. “But we have such a great community in Halifax. I have so much support behind me.”

This story has been revised for style and accuracy from a previous version that appeared on Oct. 30, 2014.

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