Category Archives: public talks

Addressing Ben Carson’s Transphobic Remarks in a Public Forum

How Absurd Ben Carson Is

On July 19, 2016, politician and former presidential candidate Ben Carson referred to transgender people as the “height of absurdity” (see video clip). His disparaging remarks were met by the audience with laughter and applause. On August 7, 2016, I addressed Mr. Carson’s poor behavior during an event called “Breaking Bread, Building Bridges“.
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Free Public Presentation: Understanding & Supporting Transgender Friends & Family

understanding transgender graphic v2b1_50

If you live within reasonable travel distance of Rochester, NY, please join us for this free public event! It will be held at Open Arms MCC (707 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14605), Sunday November 15, 2015, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

Knowledge is power and I’m all about empowering people!

About the event
Transgender people face a variety of social and economical challenges. Issues such as: discrimination, disparagement, ridicule, assault, murder, and lack of access to affordable healthcare from qualified providers, are just the tip of the iceberg.

This adversity isn’t limited to the transgender population. It also affects friends and families of transgender people, who may feel powerless to help. Our loved ones want to be understanding and supportive, and sometimes need a little guidance and support themselves.
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Rising to Your Greatness: A Community Discussion with Gabrielle Hermosa

Gabrielle in Pride Parade 2014-07-19

Rising to Your Greatness, Sharing Your Journey and Transforming the World
A Community Discussion with Gabrielle Hermosa on Saturday, September 20, 2014 @ 6:30 PM.

About the event
Life can seem hectic, stressful and unfair. Social inequalities, separatism and disparities have many of us feeling helpless, lost, alone and without options.

But we’re NOT alone. We’re all in this world together. By making changes in the way we think, feel and act, we can turn things around and super-charge our lives. Working together we can build strong, uplifting, supportive communities. By rising to our greatness, sharing our gifts, passions and journeys, we have the power to transform the world and make it a better place for everyone.
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A Documentary About Transgender Realities and Addressing Public Questions

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the documentary “Just Gender. It was shown at the Little Theatre downtown, Rochester, NY.

The film explores various myths and misconceptions about transgender people. It was very interesting to learn about experiences shared by some of the people interviewed, that closely resemble my own. Things such as creating a “character” for oneself (of the socially expected gender role prior to coming out) in order to fit in and having to come out to people a second time after figuring out one’s true identity, really hit close to home. I was impressed with the very polished, informative presentation, and the depth of the people interviewed, offering a realistic look into many of the dangers and challenges we face in today’s society. Transgender people are shown as human beings, dealing with some very unique and difficult obstacles in life. I was almost brought to tears a few times.

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Speaking About Transgender Realities at the University of Rochester

This past Saturday, March 22, 2014, I had an opportunity to speak about transgender realities at the University of Rochester. It was my 6th time talking publicly about transgender awareness and education.

A long time ago, in a hospital far, far away…
I start by telling my personal story: from birth to where I am today. It’s limited to key points in my life as they pertain to growing up different (trans) in a world that demands conformity and punishes those who fall outside “social norms”.

Some rather painful and emotionally devastating moments are shared. In contrast, I incorporate humor to keep things fresh, fun, and prevent the audience from loosing interest.
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Talking to Teens and Coming Out to Mom

Gabrielle and MomLast week, Thursday was a day of teaching, personal growth, and another adventure in coming out. It started out with an early morning SafeZone presentation at a local high school.

Along with two other speakers, I was deployed by the GAGV, to educate teenage students about LGBTQ realities, share our personal stories and struggles, and answer questions. The school’s health teacher requested the presentation. There was a complete lack LGBTQ coverage within the standard curriculum in my school days (back in the 1980’s). This is, unfortunately, still pretty much the standard today. It’s promising to know there are such forward thinking teachers working hard to offer more of a real-world and well rounded education, above and beyond the status quo.

Talking, sharing, educating
Matthew (not his real name), a well spoken and very stylish gay man in his 30’s (who runs a local gay youth group) started out the presentation with a general overview things, and then we each told our personal stories. I went first, followed by Linda (not her real name), an attractive 30-something lesbian, and then Matthew. Having only met Linda and Matthew for the first time only minutes before the presentation, it was really interesting to hear their stories.

After sharing our personal stories, Matthew did a superb job explaining aspects of LGBTQ people that are often confusing to “straight” folk. The social structure in high school can be pretty brutal and restricting. As a result, teenage students may be reluctant to ask questions (verbally, in front of the class) out of fear of ridicule by their peers. We asked them to write down their questions on a piece of paper and place it in a basket that was passed around the room.

Getting shy teenagers to open up
During our first of two presentations, very few questions ended up in the basket. For the second presentation, I added, “I’d like everyone to please write down something and place it into the basket. If you don’t have a question, then write down the name of your favorite band.” That seemed to work better now that every student was expected to write something. There were several good questions submitted by the second class… and a few favorite bands.
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First Time Talking LGBTQ Education in Front of a Live Audience

Gabrielle, Dec. 12, 2013In late November, I attended a 2-day SpeakOUT Workshop to learn how to be an effective public speaker. It was just the first step in my ongoing training. Last week, I was given an opportunity to put my training to use for the first time.

An opportunity
Jeanne Gainsburg, a straight alley, Outreach Coordinator and Education Director at the GAGV, asked if I would be willing to assist with a 2 hour SafeZone presentation for the staff of a local halfway house. Delighted and honored, I agreed to help out.

The GAGV SafeZone program was created to “develop, enhance and maintain environments in workplaces, schools and other social settings that are culturally competent and supportive to LGBTQ individuals, as well as straight identified people who care about diversity, equality and inclusion.” Providing real-life perspective with the “T” end of things (transgender), was myself and a trans man I’ll refer to as “Brad” (not his real name). We took turns telling our personal life-stories and struggles involved growing up trans in a non-trans-friendly world. Even though I only met Brad for the first time just minutes before the presentation started, we made a rather effective tag-team during the Q & A portion.

Most of the presentation was handled by Jeanne. She did an excellent job presenting information, including the audience in group participatory learning activities, keeping things moving along at a good pace, and answering questions along the way. She’s been at this for 10 years and I enjoyed observing her in action while taking mental notes to learn from.

An interesting observation
While Jeanne was giving the main presentation, I stood several feet over to her right, visible to the halfway house staff. My focus shifted back and forth from observing Jeanne’s presentation and observing the counseling staff, curious to see what I could read from their facial expressions, in regard to how engaged or not engaged they were. My eyes met with many of the staff members as I scanned the room. Interestingly, they quickly looked away, breaking eye-contact.
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