Trans and nonbinary people are at a much greater risk for violence than cis folks, and much of the issue starts at misinformation and miseducation. But, thankfully, when it comes to the continuing discussion on gender equality in schools and at large, sj Miller literally wrote the book. The writer, educator and activist's about Gender Identity Justice in Schools and Communities seeks to teach and enlighten while expanding what we perceive and how we might go about helping to affect change. Miller, who recently conducted a TEDMED talk on this very topic, appears in conversation with local performer Quinn Fontaine at the Jean Cocteau Cinema (6:30 pm Sunday May 26. $10-$29. 418 Montezuma Ave.,466-5528) this week. Expect a reading from the book as well.
Why do you think it’s so hard for some people to come to terms with these particular issues?
A lot of this has to do with deep-seated beliefs around the gender binary. What happens is that when someone threatens the binary, it threatens that person’s sense of entitlement; the sense of male and female is in that binary. The stereotypes, the beliefs—when someone comes in and troubles that, it threatens that space of comfort that somebody has. I always use this term: My role is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. [People] have to look deeply into their own prejudices and beliefs.
What are some things everyday people can do to show more compassion to trans and/or non-binary people?
Be an ally. An ally is a privilege. It means walking the talk and living it, and not getting recognized for it. It means you stand up for anybody you’re around. It means that when a law changes or something is possibly going to be taken away, a certain right or privilege, it means to do something. Whether that’s to reach out to a policy maker, a teacher—do something. Not to do something condones a rationale that continues to perpetuate these kinds of atrocious policies and shifts that are coming down. To speak out is what I’m saying.
Are you hopeful? Is there hope for the future?
There’s a saying that it takes 40 years for the seeds of a revolution to make changes, and this revolution is gaining a critical mass. The more we stop policing gender identity norms, the more opportunity and expansion we’ll have around change. Just having little conversations. … The point is that the more people engage with these discourse patterns, the faster it’s going to move. We’re all part of a gender identity revolution. We’re in it, and we’d say the revolution started in the mid-to-late ‘90s, so we’re looking at 2030-ish to where we see the change, the really sustained impact.