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Beneath the Surface: The Impact of Social Judgment on the Transgender Community

 

In early 2012, the GlassBook Project collaborated with the transgender community to create an advocacy effort for social change. On Monday, April 30, 2012 from 1:00-4:00 pm, the 8th Collection of GlassBooks, titled “Beneath the Surface: The Impact of Social Judgment on the Transgender Community,” will be unveiled at a reception and performance. An introduction to the Project will begin at 2:45 pm followed by a unique performance by professional improvisational musicians at 3:00 pm. The event is open to the public and will be held at the John Cotton Dana Library, Dana Room, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 185 University Avenue, Newark, New Jersey 07102-1814. Exhibition dates are from April 25th- June 28th 2012

For transgender individuals, changes in physical and outward appearance, intended to instill comfort within their own bodies, are often sternly judged by those around them – supervisors, colleagues and clients in the workplace, landlords, families and loved ones, faith communities, the criminal justice system and others. The adverse effects of isolation, discrimination, violence and murder, bullying, abuse, depression and other mental health concerns are alarming and show no sign of decline.

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The GlassBook Project aims to shed light on the people and their experiences that our society tends to stigmatize, make invisible or erase. How can the very nature of being a whole person create a “split” with one’s community?  One of the areas of examination in this collection will be the ongoing epidemic of transgender-motivated homicides in Puerto Rico, as in other areas around the world.

There are four main transgender advocacy points that this project has focused on:

 

1.             Victim rights need to be upheld and crimes investigated without prejudice.

2.             Fair employment standards need to be in place so that discrimination because of gender identity and expression does not take place and the pervasive un/under-employment of the transgender community can be eradicated.

3.             Medical insurance coverage and training within the medical community should occur, so that preventive care and transgender medical needs can be addressed without financial hardship, shame and/or discrimination.

4.             Fair housing protections need to be established/upheld so that housing can be obtained and maintained without discrimination, and homelessness can be prevented.

 

This iteration of the GlassBook Project, a collaborative artwork of Visual Artist and Professor, Nick Kline, took place at Rutgers University-Newark, Department of Arts, Culture and Media, was under the instruction of internationally renowned, NYC-based artist Jane Benson.  University student artists heard from and discussed these issues with individuals who are transgender and can personally identify with these points of advocacy.  Also informing the effort was the Director of the Rutgers-Newark LGBTQ and Diversity Resource Center, Maren Greathouse, the LGBTT Citizens Alliance of Puerto Rico, Juan Carlos Vega and Transsexuals and Transgenders on the Move, Sophia Isabel Cruz, and the African American Center for Gay Concerns (AAOGC), Newark, NJ. The advocacy brief was developed by nationally recognized trauma expert Helga Luest, Founder/President & CEO, Witness Justice.

Artist in Residence, Jane Benson has responded to the concept of a “glass book” in a project she’s titled “Beneath the Surface.” Through the splitting of musical instruments and the subsequent re-assembly and re-invention of them, the collection explores the regenerative nature of rupture, and the metaphor of cutting through social labels that discriminate. The class embraces collaboration with professional musicians Charles Burnham, Brandon Ross, Stomu Takeishi, Mark Taylor and will culminate in the creation of a performance of improvised new music on sculptural works and instruments.

The GlassBook Project also has the honor, for the second consecutive year, of being invited by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. An exhibition and performance of this current collection will be featured at the 2012 Awareness Day national event, Heroes of Hope, on Wednesday, May 9, at The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

For library information contact: 973-353-5901

For information about the GlassBook Project contact: Professor Nick Kline 973-353-5600

This advocacy effort is being created by the GlassBook Project, a work of Artist Nick Kline in collaboration with Witness Justice, a national nonprofit organization addressing the needs of survivors of trauma and violence.  Other partnering organizations include Rutgers-Newark LGBTQ and Diversity Resource Center, the LGBTT Citizen’s Alliance of Puerto Rico, Transsexuals and Transgenders on the Move. The GlassBook Project is an artwork that builds understanding of responses to trauma that often cause stigma or discrimination.  

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