KALAMAZOO, Mich.—During two appearances in Kalamazoo next month, a noted diversity educator on transgender issues will offer concrete, easy-to-understand guidance for "not putting your foot in your mouth" around transgender and nonbinary people.
Actor and award-winning storyteller Scott Turner Schofield will present "Gender Inclusion" as the featured speaker for Kalamazoo County's 19th annual Respecting Differences program.
Schofield will present his talk, which is free and open to the public, at 9:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in Miller Auditorium on the campus of Western Michigan University. Both presentations will include an on-stage American Sign Language translator.
The 2017 Respecting Differences program will deal with gender issues that may come up both at work and in social life, and will include a closing question-and-answer session. Schofield will cover topics such as how to respect pronouns, what topics are off-limits and how to negotiate using the restroom in a post-"bathroom bills" world.
His presentation recognizes that the United States as a society is in transition regarding those types of issues. It is designed to make audience members feel comfortable and takes into account that all questions and concerns are valid. Schofield's belief is that being respectful—from all sides of gender experience—is what really matters.
Although Schofield aced his Bachelor of Arts in theatre coursework at Emory University, his gender expression at the time prevented him from being cast in traditional plays. So he wrote his own one-man shows and even before graduating, began a national tour to critical acclaim.
He went on to sell out some of the world's biggest theatre venues. After more than a decade as an internationally acclaimed theatre artist, he became the first openly trans actor on daytime television, and the first female-to-male person in a major recurring role on broadcast TV, playing Nick on CBS's "The Bold and the Beautiful."
As a trans advocate and speaker and consultant on gender issues, Schofield creates and delivers presentations to university, corporate and community organizations that demystify trans and nonbinary genders. He does this within an intersectional framework—the way that the topics of biological sex, gender and sexuality are influenced by factors such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, cultural heritage, disability and geographical location.
Because people experience gender in their own way, Schofield strives to offer a framework for looking at those topics, rather than a one-size-fits-all "answer" to a "problem." He meets individuals wherever they are in terms of their knowledge, and with audience members leading the way, helps people expand their own knowledge.
Overall, his style is light and entertaining, blending in moments of storytelling and allowing personal questions in order to engage his audience's emotional intelligence. Those interested can get a greater sense of Schofield's presentation skills and style by viewing his "Ending Gender" TED Talk online at scotttschofield.com.
Respecting Differences program
The annual Respecting Differences program began in 1999 as a collaboration between the City of Kalamazoo and WMU to heighten awareness of diversity issues in the workplace.
In addition to Kalamazoo and WMU, this year's program is being sponsored by the City of Portage, Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo College and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. It also is being supported by the Kalamazoo Human Resources Management Association.
Direct questions about the 2017 program to Julie Helmer with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at email@example.com or (269) 364-6950.
Free parking will be available near Miller Auditorium in lots 33 and 34 and the ramp (Parking Ramp No. 2). For directions to WMU or a campus map, visit wmich.edu/maps.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.