Joy Ladin, transgender scholar and poet, analyzed gender issues at The Asanbe Diversity Symposium on Thursday, April 15.

In the address “Second Genesis: The Transformation of Gender,” Ladin spoke about what the stories of the creation of human beings in the opening chapters of Genesis teach us about gender and the function of gender in human lives and society.

Ladin said she thought the Asanbe Diversity Symposium was wonderful, and the planners, sponsors, panelists and audience members who spoke did an extraordinary job.

Ladin’s accomplishments include holding the Gottesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University; her seventh book of poetry, “Impersonation,” recently being published; writing a memoir of gender transition, “Through the Door of Life”, which was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award; receiving a Fulbright Scholarship and an American Council of Learned Societies research fellowship; and speaking about transgender identity around the country.

After the speech, APSU students Miller Armistead and Aden Hester and Languages and Literature Instructor Barbara Lee Gray joined Ladin in the “Trans Identities in Social and Institutional Spaces” panel discussion.

Ladin said she was moved by the dignity, courage, generosity and openness of her fellow panelists. She was honored to sit beside them.

“I hope everyone who struggles with gender identity issues finds and feels the kind of love that I have been blessed with,” said Ladin, “The love of family members, even when they don’t understand or approve, the love of friends, the love of the God, who made transgender people, and all of us: Who and what we are.”

Senior music major Tyler Stevenson and other students took the opportunity to ask Ladin questions in an open forum. “I had never heard a transgender person speak in this academic sort of setting before,” said Stevenson. “It was definitely new. I’m glad I got to ask my question in a safe way and that [Ladin], as well as others, are able to express themselves and bring awareness to create a community for people to feel safe.”

Senior English major Shay Robertson said the event focused on how APSU is not only open-minded, but also culturally diverse.

“I think it just goes to show just how diverse and accepting APSU is,” said senior broadcast media major Melissa Arrington. “Because transgender issues are still really pushing the boundaries, even for people who do consider themselves to be open-minded. To have an event that had a transgender speaker and have almost 200 people show up goes to show that APSU really wants to progress.”