In Focus: Celebrating intersectional identities within Minnesota's LGBTQ+ communities

The idea of intersectionality came up frequently during a recent gathering of Minnesotans who are part of LGBTQ+ communities. The multilayered and interconnected nature of our identities can lead to distinct individual experiences with discrimination and marginalization.

So, what can we understand about intersectionality and how it affects Minnesotans? More specifically, how does intersectionality affect members of our LGBTQ+ communities who are also navigating a pandemic while pushing for systemic change?    

Host Angela Davis led In Focus: Celebrating intersectional identities within Minnesota’s LGBTQ+ communities with three guests who brought voice and meaning from their experiences.

Guests:

  • Jacki Trelawny (she/her) is the director of community engagement at Family Tree Clinic, which works to improve access to reproductive and sexual health services and eliminate health disparities. Trelawny believes sex-positive sex education and health access resources will save the world. Focusing on racial justice and community organizing, Trelawny is passionate about intersectional sexual health and sees it as a way to make not only individuals healthier and confident, but whole communities as well.

  • Vangie Castro (they/them) is a community organizer, advocate for LGBTQ+ human rights and a proponent of civic engagement in Olmsted County. Castro was born in the Philippines, and their family sought political asylum in the late 1970s. Castro grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and then moved to Rochester, Minn., 11 years ago. They’re currently the impact program assistant at the United Way of Olmsted County and assist with all internal programs at UWOC. Castro has also served in various roles with the Diversity Council and Planned Parenthood and was the board chairperson for Gay, Lesbian, Community, Services (GLCS), from 2011-2013. They served as a member of Governor Mark Dayton’s Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying and have been a Human Rights Commissioner for Olmsted County.

  • Roxanne Anderson (they/them) is a consultant, facilitator, community organizer, entrepreneur and social justice advocate who specializes in LGBTQ+ education and policy. Anderson serves as director of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, which works to improve health care access and health care quality for trans and gender non-conforming people through education, resources and advocacy. Anderson is also co-founder of RARE Productions and Our Space, a campaign to create physical and virtual spaces for LGBTQ+ communities in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. Anderson was a 2018 Bush Fellow and is an on-air radio DJ hosting “Fresh Fruit,” on KFAI and “The T” on KRSM. 

Among the questions they explored:   

  • How are young people helping schools and other institutions replace long-standing structures blocking equity and inclusion?    

  • Why is it important for everyone to learn to use gender pronouns correctly and question our assumptions about gender?    

  • How does the experience of living in greater Minnesota contribute to our understanding of intersectionality in LGBTQ+ communities?    

  • What can we learn from the organizations, artists and activists who are celebrating each other within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond?   

  • What is the future of gender? 

If you have thoughts or questions about the event or this month’s topic, check out the  MPR News In Focus page for different ways to share your experience. You can also join our discussion group on Facebook.   

In Focus is a series of convenings we are committed to leading on Minnesota’s persistent racial disparities. Through conversations with community leaders that are shaped by our curious, engaged audience, we hope to encourage new connections and relationships that will help Minnesota communities make progress toward equity and inclusion.    

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