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Discussions Set On Gender Identity

Mountain Mediation Center

Two opportunities to have conversations about gender identity are scheduled this month—the first being Thursday.   They're being hosted by Utah Humanities and Mountain Mediation.

The Executive Director for Mountain Mediation, Gretchen Lee, said they’re planning a five-meeting series in the coming months, including the two sessions scheduled on gender identity.

Those meetings are scheduled for Thursday, February 6th and on February 27th.     They both will take place at the Christian Center, from 6 to 7:30.

Lee said the series is part of Park City Municipal’s Social Equity Plan.  She said her group works on restorative justice.    

 “We deal with conflict, Lee said.  "And in the restorative justice, there’s prevention side of not just resolving conflict but the prevention side.  And a huge part of that is community-building.  And around the community-building, one of the essential elements is circles and circle conversations, and allowing people to basically  have a voice and to be heard.  So these conversations are intended to have citizens be heard and have a voice.   We’re not trying to change anybody’s mind.  Mountain Mediation is not trying to educate people.  But we’re trying to get people from different backgrounds in the same room.”

One of those participating in the discussions will be Kris Campbell, a transgender male.   Campbell said he wanted to take action to deal with the climate of polarization in the country today.      

 “How do I get in touch with people from other circles, people whose world views that I don’t understand?Campbell questioned.  How do I get in a room with them and sit and talk and seek some understanding, learn how to see them as people instead of that idiot spouting nonsense, right?   And so I’ve started to attend some of these conversations that Mountain Mediation has put on. I’ve attended some conversations also at my church, Mountain Life Church, and really finding this process of sitting in a room with people with a variety of opinions in a nice, safe space, giving everybody a chance to speak from their own experiences is really powerful in combatting that polarization. It allows us to see each other as the complex humans that we are, and not just that one-sided vision that we can get to if we get sucked into Facebook comments, or other nasty places in the Internet, right?

Campbell said he's engaging in the conversation so people can learn about her perspective.       

 “I’d like to get out of the abstract sound bite.,: Campbell said. "And I would like to get into what is personal experience of gender, how are all of us trapped in our own, or society’s expectations of gender.  How can we free ourselves to be our best, unique, colorful selves, and not get trapped into particular boxes.  As a trans man, it’s particularly important to me to let people see what my journey, what my experience is like.  I know it’s hard if you haven’t talked with somebody to understand why they might go through something like that.”

The meetings are scheduled amid reports that a bill will be introduced at the Utah Legislature that would prohibit adolescents from receiving hormone treatments or surgery until they are 18.  The bill, however, would reportedly allow puberty blockers.

Campbell said while he hasn’t seen the language of the bill, he thinks government shouldn’t dictate what people do with their bodies. Campbell said that youngsters should be able to make decisions, with the guidance of parents, therapists and doctors.         

 “I think people don’t understand medically what it means to be trans, and don’t understand how deep that runs," Campbell said. "I think it’s easy for people to say, “Oh, it’s just a feeling, and feelings come and go, and you’re a teen, and moods all over the place, and hormones are all over the place.”  And I don’t think they understand just how deep and existential it is.   And I think they don’t understand how hard it is to navigate in society, when you’re not allowed to navigate as yourself.”

Kris Campbell and Gretchen Lee from Mountain Mediation.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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