CORNWALL, Ontario – The Knox-St. Paul’s United Faith community is helping to present Coffee Chat with a Trans Person on Saturday, May 11 at the Boys and Girls Club on the corner of Marlborough and First streets from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The talk will feature Rita OLink, a 65-year-old transgender woman who came out at the age of 52. She said that she wants to raise awareness through this talk and dispel common misconceptions.
She says she’s often asked if being trans is a lifestyle or a choice, what it is like to be out, and what it was like before she was out.
OLink explained that before she came out, life was Hell.
“It is like living with a headache and not knowing what it is like to live without a headache,” she explained. “When you have gender dysphoria, you either do something with it or it does something to you.”
OLink said that the suicide rate for transgender people is 43 percent.
“That’s what happens when we face rejection and what happens when you deny being yourself,” said OLink.
She said that she wants to put a face to transgender issues in Cornwall, and said that those attending the event should leave their political correctness at home and ask any question no matter hoe uncomfortable.
OLink explained that they also have a strategy for those questions that no one feels comfortable asking.
“We will be bringing a white elephant box and everyone in the room gets a slip of paper to write a question,” she said.
She said she hoped this talk will help other transgender people living in the area unafraid to be themselves.
Kim Baird of the Knox-St. Paul’s United Church said that they are supporting this talk because they believe that no one journey’s alone.