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Transgender activist shares personal struggle with gender identity

first_imgSaint Mary’s department of gender and women’s studies and the psychology department hosted Meghan Buell, a transgender woman who shared her experiences at Dalloway’s Clubhouse on Wednesday. Buell, who is the founder of Trees, Inc., a non-profit organization that brings education and resources about trans issues to small towns in the Midwest, said she grew up in a small town in Indiana and she spent 35 years struggling with her gender identity.“One of the toughest aspects of my personal journey is not finding, or not even knowing how to find someone who was like me,” Buell said. “When I had an experience or a curiosity or something happened in my life that didn’t fit in to what I was being shown around me as the binary and male gender, I kind of said ‘All right. I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to put it up in my head and not worry about it and not think about it.’”Buell said she searched the Internet to find other people like her, and spent five years reading biographies of other transgender people before she was able to self-identify as transgender.Monica Villagomez Mendez | The Observer “I have been described by a lot of my friends and people here in the community and the area as the most out and proud trans person they’ve ever met,” Buell said. “I’m just Meghan and I’m just living my life and I’m doing it the way I feel is best for me.“I hope other people realize it’s okay to be yourself and beat to your own drum and go about life in the best way you can and not let others push you into boxes and push you into a way of living,” she said. “Do it for yourself; it’s your life. Enjoy it and do it the way you want.”Buell emphasized that the journey for each transgender person is different. “For every trans person that speaks, the audience needs to remember this is just one trans person speaking,” Buell said. “The trans community is made of very diverse, very unique individuals, and every journey is their own and unique to them. I can tell you things about being in the trans community that are completely opposite of what someone else has experienced.“Give every trans person the opportunity to tell their story and to talk about their journey, the challenges, the successes, because it’s not going to be the same as the last trans person you spoke to.”Buell said one of the biggest questions concerning the transgendered community is the problem with which public bathroom to use.“Everybody needs to go to the bathroom,” she said. “It really has an impact on the transgender community. … It makes choosing a bathroom difficult sometimes when your gender expression is showing the opposite of what the gender marker on your driver’s license says or is different from what the stereotypical gender expression may be. There’s this point of hesitancy when you walk up to the bathroom.”Buell said this is dangerous to members of the transgender community because in some places, it is illegal to enter bathrooms that do not match a person’s assigned gender. She said transgender students have started avoiding bathrooms at school altogether by not eating or drinking during the day, which can affect both their physical health and academic career.Though Buell describes herself as an open book, she said the experience of being transgender is a hard one. She said one way to make it easier for transgender people is to not impose gender roles from a young age, and to raise children in a more gender-neutral way until they express gender on their own.“I don’t wish this upon anyone. This is tough,” Buell said. “I’ve made a lot more out of it than I ever expected to make out of it. It’s tough. So if you have children and you allow them to express their gender when they’re ready to express their gender, it gives them a better shot of not going down the wrong path and having to reverse direction or correct direction, which is tough.”Tags: Gender and Women’s Studies, meghan buelllast_img read more

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Norm Lewis & Sierra Boggess to Headline Phantom on Broadway

first_img from $29.00 Related Shows Tony nominee Norm Lewis is set to make history when he takes on the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, becoming the first African-American actor to play the role on Broadway. Lewis will star opposite Sierra Boggess, in her return to the New York production. The two stars, who previously played underwater father and daughter in The Little Mermaid on Broadway, will both begin performances on May 12, replacing Hugh Panaro and Mary Michael Patterson, respectively.Lewis has named The Phantom as his dream role for years. “That’s one of my roles that I always wanted to play,” Lewis told Broadway.com’s Paul Wontorek on Show People, “and it’s really now to set a precedent. It doesn’t even have to be me, but there’s never been an African American to play that role except Robert Guillaume, but never one on Broadway.” [In 1990, Tony nominee Guillaume played the role when he succeeded original star Michael Crawford in the L.A. production.] “Out of 25 years [on Broadway], I’d love to see an African American play that.””I am so honored and giddy with excitement to bring Christine to life again opposite my dearest Norm,” said Boggess, who was recently praised by Phantom composer Andrew Lloyd Webber as “the best Christine.” Boggess added, “This is a moment in time I don’t want to miss!” When asked about playing The Phantom opposite his former onstage daughter, Lewis told Broadway.com, “I’m not going to say the word, but it would add an extra element to that role.”Lewis, who received a Tony nomination for Porgy and Bess, has also appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon, The Who’s Tommy, Chicago, Side Show, The Wild Party, Amour, Les Miserables, Sondheim on Sondheim and The Little Mermaid. His film and TV credits include Scandal, All My Children and Les Miserables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary. Boggess won the 2013 Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite Replacement for playing Christine on Broadway, a role she previously played in Las Vegas and in both the London and New York 25th anniversary productions of the show. She also originated the role in Phantom’s London sequel Love Never Dies, for which she received an Oliver Award nomination. She made her Broadway debut as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (for which she won a Broadway.com Audience Choice Award). Her credits also included Master Class on Broadway and Les Miserables in the West End.The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest-running show, continues its record-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre. Along with Panaro and Patterson, Phantom currently stars Jeremy Hays as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as Monsieur Andre, Tim Jerome as Monsieur Firmin, Michele McConnell as Carlotta, Ellen Harvey as Madame Giry, Christian Sebek as Piangi and Deanna Doyle as Meg Giry. Sierra Boggess The Phantom of the Operacenter_img Star Files Norm Lewis View Commentslast_img read more

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