Witness In Residence: A Conversation About Transgender Lives

The impact of transition for a transgender individual extends far beyond the self to their families, friends, colleagues and community.

UNC Charlotte’s Aliaga-Buchenau Witness in Residence Initiative will host a community conversation on Tuesday, April 9, that explores transgender lives in the context of family, friends and communities.

The Witness in Residence Initiative, now in its fourth year, provides education about human rights and social justice for the UNC Charlotte campus and the greater Charlotte community.  A look at transgender experiences is particularly timely as a piece of the University’s renewed and expanded commitment to diversity.

The initiative seeks to encourage conversations about issues pertaining to human rights and social justice in the U.S. and globally. Previous initiatives have focused on the death penalty, on Syrian refugees in the U.S., and on life in Communist East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The community conversation will begin at 6:30 p.m. at UNC Charlotte Center City (320 E. 9th Street, Charlotte 28202). A dessert reception will follow the conversation. The event is open without charge, but registration is required. You can register here. Information about parking will be emailed shortly before the event to those who are registered.

The witnesses are:

  • Matthew Rice, a transgender man living in Charlotte who has conducted research on HIV/AIDS in the transgender community in San Francisco and now teaches science in a local high school. He is a board member for Time Out Youth, a local organization that provides a safe space for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) teens.
  • Debra Hopkins, a transgender woman who is an ordained minister, a motivational speaker and teacher who addresses issues of gender equality. She is director of There’s Still Hope, a transitional home for the trans community established to help end homelessness in Charlotte. Ms. Hopkins has written a memoir, Not Until You Have Walked in My Shoes – My Story.
  • Debra Bercuvitz, a lifelong lesbian who has been partnered with a transman for 27 years and who has published and spoken extensively about this experience to college and national audiences. Her relationship transition was documented as the cover story of The New York Times Magazine in October, 2001. Debra holds a master’s degree in public health from UNC-Chapel Hill and lives in Massachusetts. She coordinates substance use interventions for the Department of Public Health’s maternal and child health bureau.

In addition to the public conversations, the three will meet and talk with students and faculty at UNC Charlotte and other area universities and high schools as a part of the initiative.