Vagina Monologues refocuses on transgender inclusivity through beneficiary choice

| News Editor

The Vagina Monologues will feature an increased focus on trans-inclusivity thanks to the St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG), the beneficiary of this year’s production.

V-Day Wash U, a chapter of the national organization V-Day, puts on the performance and aims to end violence against women by fundraising for groups such as MTUG. The show itself aims to engage topics involving sex, gender, sexuality, sexual violence, oppression, sexism, feminism, self-love and LGBT issues.

The effort to increase the representation of trans experiences within the show is, according to producer and senior Shana Zucker, necessary to propagate the voices and stories of those with different experiences.

“Having transwomen represented in The Vagina Monologues is important because it means that an important and often marginalized narrative is being heard,” Zucker said.

Junior Emma Laursen appreciates the significance of trans-inclusivity in the show.

“I think it’s fantastic and absolutely necessary to include trans people in the show. Vagina Monologues draws in a lot of people who might not otherwise participate in this kind of dialogue, and trans issues should absolutely be a part of that,” Laursen said.

Despite taking steps to progress alongside the expanding landscape of sexual identity, it is difficult to reach every member of an audience, Zucker explained.

“I will be the first to admit that this show is not perfect,” Zucker said. “The conflation of sex and gender in this piece is problematic. This piece will resonate with some transwomen, but not all. But what is important is that we are hoping to start a dialogue. That is what is significant about this show. The Vagina Monologues starts conversations.”

The Vagina Monologues, among other topics, seeks to expand the conversation regarding sexual assault, which, as revealed by the Student Life Sex Survey, is all too relevant at Washington University.

“Sexual assault is an epidemic that is on this campus,” Zucker said. “Working to eliminate the ‘taboo’ of talking about vaginas is an important first step towards addressing this epidemic. The issues that the show addresses are not just women’s issues; they are everyone’s issues.”

Former cast member and 2015 graduate Caroline Leffert reflected upon the ways in which The Vagina Monologues affected her.

“I saw it first as a freshman and was shocked to learn that other people felt the same way about their bodies as I did: insecurity, occasionally joy, sometimes disgust,” Leffert said.

Zucker expanded upon Leffert’s comment, stating that she hopes all audience members take away a powerful and personal message.

“I hope that when viewers walk out of the show, that they have considered a new perspective, and that they feel the confidence to start discussing these issues with their peers. ‘Vagina’ is a word to be celebrated,” Zucker said.