The College of Education kicked off its brand new Trans Studies in Education Speaker Series last week with a dynamic fall speaker, Jennicet Gutiérrez. Jennicet delivered a campus-wide talk on Wednesday, October 13 at 4pm to a digital audience of over 175 participants and an intimate student specific session on Thursday, October 14 at 1:30pm with undergraduate and graduate students from various university communities.
Jennicet Gutiérrez is a transgender Latina organizer born in Tuxpan, Jalisco, Mexico and a founding member of the justice-oriented community organization, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (TQLM). Familia: TQLM works at the local and national level to advance the support of LGBTQ+ Latinx people through advocacy, community building, organizing and education. Jennicet’s personal and professional work has centered on the voices of trans women of color who have experienced deportation, incarceration and criminalization. She is well known for her demonstration in 2015 at White House event for LGBT Pride Month when she asked President Obama to consider immigration reform as a key part of LGBTQ+ advocacy in the United States.
In her campus talk, Transgressing Borders: Liberatory Praxis for Immigrant and LGBTQ+ Rights, Jennicet shared her story, the impact that the schooling process had on her identities, and her path towards activism. Through developing kinship and connections with community organizers in LA, Jennicet found a sense of self and purpose in movement building and activism. She described how her experience in the White House was a pivotal moment for furthering conversation about the lives of transgender immigrants held in U.S. detention centers. In the keynote, Jennicet spoke to the necessity of rooting political advocacy and education in the experiences of trans women of color and also highlighted her work with the #EndTransDetention campaign.*
During her session with students, Trans as/in Community: Collective Organizing for Immigrant and LGBTQ+ Rights, Jennicet began the conversation about how education served as a key part of her developing a political consciousness. Because the women in her family had limited opportunity to access education, Jennicet still prioritized education in her life despite challenges she faced as an undocumented student. Jennicet spoke with students about the ways that activism helped create a space for her full authentic self. She also addressed questions around the complexities of representation, strategies for advocacy, the important of working with young people in the process of their identity, and how educators can create trans and queer incluisve classroom spaces.
Additionally, Jennicet met with faculty on Thursday through a praxis-based session sponsored by Faculty Affairs. During this session, Jennicet expanded on her experiences with education in Mexico and the United States. Connecting education to activism, Jennicet highlighted how trans movement building and activism must occur as a global phenomenon and explored this through the ways she has worked across borders. Jennicet’s transnational organizing served as a bridge for faculty to explore the role of transdisciplinary work in their research and teaching.
Jennicet’s visit helps to advance conversations in the College of Education around the experience of LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty and the ways that queer and trans pedagogy can benefit modes of learning and teaching. The Trans Studies in Education Speaker Series aligns with the College’s vision of enhancing education equity by directly centering the lives of transgender and non-binary individuals in the field of education. Jennicet’s visit and the speaker series are part of direct efforts to highlight LGBTQ+ identities and voices in education and provide necessary mechanisms of support for queer and trans students in the College of Education.
Jennicet’s speaking engagements were co-sponsored by the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice, the Center for the Study of Higher Education, HSI Initiatives and Faculty Affairs, Guerrero Student Center, and the Women's and Gender Resource Center. Monica Jones, a Black trans woman who is a LGBTQ+ and sex workers advocate, will be the next speaker in the Trans Studies in Education Speaker Series. Her talk will be in February 2022.
*Register to attend the virtual congressional briefing on ending trans detention.