Karen McLaughlin shares her experiences as a transgender person with Raul Obregon

Nanaimo students learn through ‘human library’

NANAIMO – Goal of event to dispel myths and stereotypes through discussion.

Students at Wellington Secondary School had an opportunity Thursday to learn first-hand about the transgender experience as part of the Human Library.

The event saw real people – the books – available for chat, affording students the chance to learn about the people’s experiences. The aim was to dispel myths and stereotypes through discussion.

Karen McLauglin said she is an ordinary person, save for “one curious fact,” which isn’t all that relevant to anyone else. She hopes that by being part of the library, it will lead to more open-mindedness. It is a small political act, she hopes leads to a world where diversity is OK.

McLaughlin said there are misconceptions, such as a transgender person in a women’s washroom being a threat, which is a myth she hopes to dispel.

“The untruth of that I hope is made manifest, becomes obvious, when they see that, ‘Gee, she’s pretty ordinary. ‘She’s just another woman. She’s not a danger, she’s not a threat, she’s not anyway unusual except for that one fact in her personal history,’” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin had an effect on students such as Raul Obregon, a Grade 12 international student from Mexico.

“She gave me her story of her process,” said Obregon. “It wasn’t just a moment. It was 50 years of feeling uncomfortable and having to pretend, because it was a very different time back then right? It is an emotional story. I think she’s brave. I was very inspired.”

In terms of what Obregon can apply to his own life, he said it was to be himself.

“I think that’s the biggest lesson I got out of her, it’s just listen to your heart … I agree with that. To truly listen to yourself,” Obregon said.

The Human Library originated in Denmark in 2000.

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