On May 8, the Center on Halsted, in partnership with Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, hosted a family-friendly indoor picnic, accompanied by a screening of the National Geographic documentary Gender Revolution.
After dining on the pizza and soda provided by the Center or the picnic baskets guests brought from home, everyone filed into the theater to watch Katie Couric journey across the United States to help viewers understand the many different genders with which people identify, and the struggle those who are not cisgender face every day to gain the same rights as everybody else.
Following the screening was a Q+A with Vanessa Sheridan, director of trans relations and community engagement at the Center, and Zach Stafford, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Lurie's Center for Gender, Sexuality, and HIV Prevention and the Division of Adolescent Medicine.
The screening was part of a series of trans-focused initiatives that have taken place since Sheridan joined the Center staff in February 2016. Until she came on board, she explained, the Center didn't have a trans program. Now, it hosts screenings like this one, as well as other events, like an annual trans ice cream social and a trans talk series.
Sheridan has helped organize community events surrounding the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and she is also in the process of creating a Transgender Day of Empowerment at the Center. That way, she said, in addition to a day dedicated to mourning those who are lost to the community, there can also be a day centered on celebrating trans people. "I've got some big big ideas," Sheridan said about more trans-focused events at the Center.