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Activist and author Ryan Sallans speaks about gender transitions

Activist and Author Ryan Sallans during his lecture on transitioning.

Activist and Author Ryan Sallans during his lecture on transitioning.

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Activist and Author Ryan Sallans during his lecture on transitioning.

Olivia Enquist, Staff Writer

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Transgender activist and author Ryan Sallans delivered a lecture titled “Gender Transitions: Scouting the Unknown” on Nov. Valders 206. The event was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement (CEPE) and People for the Rights, Inclusion and Diversity of Expression (PRIDE).

Sallans described his story as a way to inform the audience. After his presentation, he answered questions and signed copies of his book “Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life.”

Ryan Sallans is a female-to-male transgender individual. Sallans spoke about his personal journey with gender and how he uses it as a way to educate others. He described how his transformation started during childhood. He became aware of his body image which eventually lead to the development of an eating disorder during college. This process culminated with him coming out as a transgender individual.

Sallans discussed the emotional and mental issues that he faced while trying to find acceptance from society, family, and himself. He also discussed the financial issues that many transgender individuals face. The lecture coincided with the celebration of Transgender Remembrance Day.

PRIDE President Filiberto Lopez-Garcia (‘19) described why he thought that this event was important to Luther’s campus.

“Bringing awareness to the topic of transgender issues and the knowledge that everyone is on their own gender spectrum is something that I think is important,” Lopez-Garcia said. “It is something that [Sallans] really explained well through his own personal narrative of transitioning.”

Photo courtesy of
Logo of the “I SUPPORT YOU” campaign by Ryan Sallans. The campaign is directed towards educating transgender persons and allies to provide appropiate support during transitioning.

Sallans began his lecture by briefly describing the concept of gender, specifically the differences between one’s gender identity, their assigned gender, and one’s sexual orientation. Sallans explained that all three identities are a spectrum. According to Sallans, although it is possible to identify strongly as male or female, some people do not identify as either, meaning that they are non-binary.

During his lecture, Sallans discussed personal anecdotes and stories from both his life and his book to highlight his experience. Secretary of PRIDE Wyatt Anians (‘19) talked about PRIDE’s involvement in the process of bringing Sallans to campus.

“PRIDE took part in advertising the event to more folks and getting discussion gathered around Ryan’s story and the topic of gender identity,” Anians said. “The timing just happened to be serendipitous that Ryan arrived on campus on the same month that Transgender Remembrance Day is held.”

Caitlin Maly (‘19) said she thinks lectures like this help create a better sense of community on campus.
“He was really inspiring,” Maly said. “Even for someone who isn’t transgender or a member of the LGBTQ+ community it is still such an important topic to learn and educate yourself about. I think that it’s important to raise awareness to the topic so that we can be good allies to our transgender brothers and sisters.”

Lopez-Garcia explained the event’s importance in regards to transgender awareness.

“I thought that it was a great event for Luther’s campus, especially as the Day of Transgender Remembrance approaches on November 20th,” Lopez-Garcia said. “I thought the event highlighted transgender voices and allowed people to share their stories.”

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