Understanding the Importance of Transgender Awareness Week
The second week of November is recognized as Transgender Awareness Week, to increase the visibility of the transgender community through education and advocacy. In this episode of Michigan Minds, Rogério Meireles Pinto, associate dean for research and professor of social work at the U-M School of Social Work, discusses the significance of Transgender Awareness Week and explains his research to examine the health and structural challenges facing individuals in the transgender and broader LBGTQ+ community.
Pinto’s work focuses on finding academic, sociopolitical, and cultural venues for broadcasting the voices of oppressed individuals and groups. Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, his research focuses on the impact of interprofessional collaboration on the delivery of evidence-based services, particularly the delivery of services to marginalized racial, ethnic, and sexual minority individuals.
“I think that a lot of my inspiration for the work that I actually do comes from my own gay and gender nonconforming identity, which has shaped, in so many ways, what it is that I study and how I study the things that I actually do,” Pinto says.
Pinto is building an art installation, The Realm of the Dead, in order to investigate his own personal marginalization as a gender nonconforming, mixed-race, and Latinx immigrant. This installation will serve as the stage set for Pinto’s award-winning theatrical performance, Marília, a one-person play that explores the tragic death of his 2-year old sister and how that loss haunts—and inspires—the lives of her family members.
He also teaches a course on LGBTQ+ issues, which he describes as an advocacy class. Allyship is a topic that comes up often in the class, and he explains that understanding solidarity is an important step to being an ally for the transgender, and overall LGBTQ+, community.
“At the end of the day, being an ally is to develop long-lasting relationships with individuals from those communities because longitudinal relationships can lead to much better outcomes,” Pinto says.
In the podcast, Pinto discusses how women in general face many vulnerabilities in society, and that transgender women face those same vulnerabilities.
“And if that transgender woman happens to be a woman of color from a lower socioeconomic status, life is going to be even more complicated. So there’s a lot that one has to deal with in terms of one’s own emotional and internal life, to understand and accept who one is,” he adds.
Pinto explains the significance of transgender individuals being elected to offices and the importance of Transgender Awareness Week—although he hopes that the nation gets to a point where an awareness week isn’t necessary.