Vagina Monologues audience praises transgender inclusivity
With a greater focus on transgender inclusivity this year, Washington University’s chapter of the national organization V-Day raised money through The Vagina Monologues this weekend for the St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG), in addition to raising awareness for general women’s issues.
This year’s beneficiary, MTUG, works under the mission “By Trans for Trans,” drawing attention and resources to ending violence against transwomen and all trans and non-binary, nonconforming people.
Although trans-inclusivity has been a feature of the Vagina Monologues since 2004, MTUG’s partnership adds an additional element of support for inclusivity. Proceeds from the production will go toward Trans 101 training, trans-visibility week and other educational and advocacy initiatives.
Seniors Amanda Harris and Rebecca Basson, co-directors of this year’s production, wanted to choose a beneficiary that was inclusive to trans rights and issues.
“When we talk about women, we’re not just talking about people who were born with female anatomy—whatever that looks like—but rather people who identify as a woman, people who identify on the spectrum of gender and try to make it as inclusive as possible to everyone,” Harris said.
“I think having MTUG as a beneficiary this year starts the conversation about how we have to focus on not just your typical idea of a woman, but [on] all the other people that might identify as women,” Basson added.
Among the monologues performed this year were “My Vagina is Angry,” a humorous description regarding all of the difficulties endured by vaginas (including OB-GYN tools and tampons) and “They Beat the Girl out of my Boy…Or so They Tried,” which depicted a transwoman’s realization of her true gender identity.
“I ached to be completed. I ached to belong,” the script read. Five actresses portrayed transwomen, including sophomore Sally Rifkin, junior Jessica Sun and seniors Katie Smith, Leora Spitzer and Kelsey Stanley.
Freshman Anna Bartels-Newton said that there were a lot of interesting monologues about topics she may not have necessarily considered.
“I thought [the monologues] were really, really thought-provoking and empowering. A lot of the messages that were being sent about accepting yourself and loving yourself were ones that women need to hear way more often,” she said. “I feel lucky that this is something that’s offered at Wash. U. that I can listen to and enjoy it.”
Freshman Alfredo Jahn enjoyed “They Beat the Girl out of my Boy…Or so They Tried.”
“I’m a genderqueer individual so the representation—that was really nice to see,” Jahn said.
Though there were no transgender actresses portraying the transgender monologue, Harris and Basson worked to give the entire cast an inclusive educational experience.
“Obviously all of our women playing transwomen couldn’t identify with the experiences of a transwoman, but we worked to help educate them and help them understand, as much as they can, the experience of a transwoman,” Basson said.
Harris noted the importance of hearing the experiences of other women and hopes audience members will start conversations within the community.
“I think it’s important that people are comfortable not just saying the word ‘vagina’ but talking about women’s bodies and their own perceptions and their own fears and experiences,” Harris said. “I think this is a really good opportunity to start that dialogue.”