WEB EXCLUSIVE: Transgender author speaks at GWPride’s “Out and About Week”

Daphne Scholinski, who spent time in a mental institution for gender identity disorder, presented her feelings on gender and sexuality as part of GWPride’s “Out and About Week” at the Marvin Center Tuesday night.

The author of “The Last Time I Wore A Dress,” Scholinski discussed and read excerpts from her book and showed slides of her artwork.

Scholinski said she does not identify herself as a male or a female. But forced with a choice, Schonlinski prefers to be considered a male, because she said she identifies more with male characteristics, even though biologically she is a woman.

Scholinski stressed “respect, love and honesty” as she talked about how she dealt with “torture” in her life because of identity issues and sexual confusion. Because she identified herself with male terms, her parents committed her to mental institutions because she said they thought she “wouldn’t act completely feminine.”

She now speaks about her book and her artwork, both of which reflect her tumultuous life.

“All I’m trying to do now is get people to feel,” she said.

She said other people can gain strength from her story.

“The main reason I’m alive is to make a difference,” she said. Many students embraced Scholinski’s message of tolerance.

Students said they admired Schonlinski’s message.

“The main lesson is embracing the differences instead of saying what’s wrong,” sophomore Ashley Crawford said. “This is my emotion, why should I hide it, even if society says it’s wrong?”

Other students said Scholinski sets a good example for young adults.

“(Scholinski) is a great role model. Her overall message is very important,” sophomore Laurie Horwitz said. “Getting the message out will help treat people today.”

Although Scholinski said she does not fit neatly into gender classifications, Horwitz said, “she’s still real comfortable where she is; she’s just real comfortable being what she is.”

The event, co-sponsored by GWPride and GW’s English Department, was part of the annual “Out and About Week.”

GWPride will host daily events until Friday in order to “increase the awareness of (gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender) issues on campus,” said Brent Stansell, administrative chair of GWPride.

“It’s not just a gay organization,” Stansell said. “It’s for anyone who supports diversity on campus.”

The week started Monday with the Kick Off Social and continued Wednesday with various gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender groups gathering in Kogan Plaza from noon to 2 p.m. to provide information on their organizations in an event called Gay Activism 101.

GWPride will screen “But I’m A Cheerleader,” a movie about issues of homosexuality in high school, in the Marvin Center Ballroom Thursday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The week will conclude with a performance of “I Want to Tell You,” a musical about self-acceptance and tolerance, followed by a panel discussion at St. Thomas Parish, located at 1772 Church St., NW.

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