By Shayna Herszage
In November, a Wurzweiler School of Social Work Care Cafe event, “Neither He, Nor She, But Me: A Personal Story of Gender Variation,” was postponed from its original December 10th date. The event was to feature transgender rights activist Hannah Fons. Care Café events focus on topics related to mental health, effective parenting, mourning loved ones, and other questions and challenges people face in their daily lives.
According to Fons and individuals from Wurzweiler, the postponing was due to issues with the venue, Riverside Memorial Chapel. However, many have expressed doubt towards this reasoning, particularly considering the fact that Care Café events have often taken place at this location without issue.
On November 29th, Fons posted on Facebook, “UPDATE! My talk for Yeshiva U. on December 10th has been POSTPONED because of a venue issue – DO NOT SHOW UP ON THE 10th! Stay tuned for the new date/place – it’ll be in January or early Feb!”
Following the indefinite postponing of the event, many people wondered if the event was truly postponed, or if it was cancelled without a definite answer. Soon after the initial Facebook event was cancelled with no explanation, the YU Observer posted an article entitled “Wurzweiler Event on Gender Issues Disappears from the Internet,” which suggested that the event was postponed for reasons not revealed to Fons or the public.
In February, Wurzweiler and Fons decided they would hold the event on June 14th, 2019, based on the availability of panelists and a larger venue. According to Dean Danielle Wozniak of Wurzweiler, “We are committed to ensuring that Hannah Fons has an opportunity to share their story.”
While student supporters of the event appreciate the fact that the event has not been cancelled altogether, many are dissatisfied by the timing of the new date, which is after the undergraduate semesters end. “While I commend Yeshiva University for taking a step in the right direction by hosting this vital event, the administration has severely limited its impact on our community by rescheduling it for the summer time after school is over, preventing most [undergraduate] students from being able to attend. In an environment that’s severely lacking in inclusivity, this event could’ve promoted awareness and understanding of transgender individuals in our community as a whole,” says Temmi Lattin, SCW ’21.
When asked about possible future initiatives regarding gender identity, Wozniak added, “We are currently working on scheduling a panel discussion and clinical workshop that will take place at a larger venue and will focus on the role that clinicians can best play to intervene and support the community.”