Carson City symposium to demystify transgender community | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City symposium to demystify transgender community

Teri Vance
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Planned speakers for a Transgender Symposium talk at the Capitol. From left are, Kim Nichols, Elvira Diaz, Kristen Aaquist, Presley Wiseman, Kimi Cole and Laura Grotz. The symposium, sponsored by PFLAG and TAG, will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brewery Arts Center.
Photo by Cathleen Allison / Nevada Photo Source | Photo by Cathleen Allison / Neva

If You Go

WHAT: Transgender Symposium

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Brewery Arts Center’s Performance Hall, 511 W. King St.

Speakers for the Transgender Symposium will include:

Kimi Cole: Kimi is a director/advocate with Transgender Allies Group. She works with legislators and groups, seeking LGBT-positive improvements in areas of fair and equal treatment.

Kristen Aaquist: Kristen is a 35 year old transgender mother of two. Kristen is a member of the Transgender Allies Group, a board member of Reno/Sparks PFLAG and works with the Build Our Center youth group.

Elvira Diaz: Elvira is the parent of a transgender child and advocates to educate the public and raise awareness about the transgender community. Elvira is bilingual in English and Spanish and helps translate surveys and other documents from English to Spanish.

Tori Skocdopole: Tori is a nurse practitioner with Northern Nevada Hopes. She started in transgender medicine in 2010 after developing a passion for working with this community in San Francisco. She is happy to work with anyone who has questions and serve as a medical guide during transition.

Presley Wiseman: Presley is a trans man, a poet, a grandson, brother, a veteran and a student finishing his candidacy program for a masters in creative writing. He hopes sharing his story will make the world a safer, more empathetic place for people to live and be who they truly are.

Tory Clark: Dr. Clark specializes in sexuality counseling. She is pursuing studies at the University of Nevada, Reno that will qualify her for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Kathy Baldock: Kathy is the executive director of Canyonwalker Connections. She writes, blogs, speaks and is dedicated in working toward dialogue and education on issues of faith, policy, and sexual orientation/gender identity.

Kimi Cole of Gardnerville described her typical day.

“I get up in the morning, shower, eat breakfast and go to work,” she said. “I do my laundry, clean my house, go to the grocery store. That’s what being transgender means to me.”

Cole, 60, transitioned to living as a woman five years ago and wants to dispel the common misconceptions that can often plague the transgender community.

She will be one of the featured speakers at a transgender symposium planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City.

“All we’d like to do is go on with our lives like everyone else,” she said. “We just want to live very ordinary lives.”

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Transgender Allies Group and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Carson Region.

“The more educated and informed people are about the broad spectrums of gender and sexuality, the more empowered we can all be in accepting one another,” said Pam Graber, founder of the Carson Region PFLAG and chapter secretary. “There is nothing to be afraid of. We just need to embrace one another, have understanding and love in our hearts.”

The symposium will host a panel of speakers, which will include transgender people, allies and medical professionals.

Cole said the healthcare industry also has gone through a learning process.

Growing up, Cole said she always felt that something wasn’t right.

“I’d look in the mirror and it didn’t feel authentic,” she said. “Every counselor gave me the same advice, that I would outgrow it by the time I turned 50. I held onto that for dear life, and it turned out to be absolutely untrue.”

At 55, she transitioned.

“Now life is awesome,” she said.

Throughout her life, she said, she could always see the male and female perspective. While the female response felt right, she said she would most often choose the male response to comply with cultural norms.

“Now, when I experience something, it is what it is,” Cole said. “I don’t have to decide how to present. It’s much more natural. Much more seamless, and much less stressful.”

Some of her relationships suffered at first, Cole said, but most have become as strong or stronger than before.

Her ex-wife remains her business partner and best friend.

“She’s been one of my biggest encouragers and supporters,” Cole said.

She hopes the symposium will inform the community and help those who identify as transgender as well as help their loved ones who may struggle with acceptance for religious or other reasons.

“Maybe they don’t have to be so fearful of somebody who’s different,” Cole said. “We want to dispel harmful myths.”

Although the symposium was planned many months in advance, the timing coincided with the much-publicized announcement of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition in a televised interview with Diane Sawyer.

“With 70 million people watching that interview, it has opened the discussion,” Cole said. “It’s what we make of that discussion that’s going to determine where we go from here.”