Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) invited Dr. Lee Airton, an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in Education at Queen’s University on Sept. 28, 2021, to discuss gender diversity and how the discussion around it has evolved.
The public online event was attended by over 25 people and had a format of Q&A session between the moderator Jacob Miller from KFPL and Dr. Airton.
The discussion revolved around how gender diversity has influenced social and educational environments and how gender-diverse populations can approach obstacles with confidence and community support.
“It’s [gender] a process of reading people’s bodies and behaviors and making judgments about them that we aren’t even aware of or making that help us to engage with the world every day,” Airton said.
“It’s a process of making sure that we look like the person we are so that people get us.”
They also mentioned that sex is just a descriptor of what our bodies do and how gender is all of the social meanings we interpret from our that.
Dr. Airton and their research team launched Gegi.ca, the first bilingual self-advocacy resource for K-12 students experiencing gender expression and gender identity discrimination at school.
“I am a transgender Kingstonian myself. I’m a local author, and I’m speaking at an event that the Kingston library hosts, and I’m very happy to be here,” Airton said.
“Since I moved to Kingston in 2017, engaging with the library in all of my experiences has been wonderful. I’ve loved working with the library staff who have always been very welcoming and supportive to me.”
Liz Coates, the Manager of Programming and Outreach at the library, said that the events and programs at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library are responsive to the current interests and needs of the community.
“We select programs that are consistent with the Library’s strategic directions and look for opportunities to attract new audiences to the library, highlight our collections, and promote an awareness of contemporary issues,” she said.
Dr. Airton’s public scholarship includes the blog They Is My Pronoun, the No Big Deal national social media initiative, and the books Teaching About Gender Diversity: Teacher-Tested Lesson Plans for K-12 Classrooms. They also recently published Gender – Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say and What to Do in the New Gender Culture.
After the event, the library held a survey among the participants who found the presentation as thought-provoking and engaging and asked for more programs on topics such as equity and diversity.
Within the same theme, KFPL is also organizing an event on Oct. 15 and inviting Dr. Karen Lawford to speak about Indigenous health and wellness. Dr. Lawford is an Aboriginal midwife (Namegosibiing, Lac Seul First Nation, Treaty 3), a Registered midwife (Ontario), and Assistant Professor in Gender Studies at Queen’s University with an additional specialty in Indigenous maternity care.
Dr. Lawford will be presenting her research on the Indigenous, transgender, and Two-Spirit experiences within the healthcare system.