Transgender speaker at Kean OCC talks on transition

By Desiré McCoy | Posted November 19, 2015

Transgender guest speaker Dr. Geena Buono talks about her transition in Professor Atkins’ Gender & Language Communication class at the Kean Ocean County College (OCC) campus. Photos: Tommy Sisbarro

Transgender guest speaker Dr. Geena Buono talks about her transition in Professor Atkins’ Gender & Language Communication class at the Kean Ocean County College (OCC) campus.
Photo: Tommy Sisbarro

Before being the individual she is today, Dr. Geena Buono was seen as a man and a father. The sex she was assigned at birth did not align with the gender she identifies with – Dr. Buono is transgender.

In October, Dr. Buono was welcomed as a guest speaker to Professor Atkins’ Gender & Language Communication class at the Kean Ocean County College (OCC) campus.

Dr. Buono grew up in Brick, N.J. and attended Ocean County College. She is now a licensed chiropractor in the states of New Jersey and New York, and is the lead singer/guitarist of the band “Geena and Dragster” soon releasing her first studio album.

Before all of this there is a deeper story that some of the class couldn’t initially relate to but surely could appreciate.

Growing up in a body she did not belong in was very difficult and coping was a struggle. Denying her own identity by putting on an alpha male persona was not by any means easy.

Eventually, Dr. Buono learned of the term cross-dresser. Even though this seemed to help, the clothes weren’t enough and the identity struggle became more complicated during a time when transgender was not a term embraced in magazines like Vanity Fair.

As challenges with her gender identity continued to add pressure to her life, Dr. Buono decided to seek therapy to get help and advice on what to do. At this time she discovered she was transgender, which led to her decision to become and embrace the woman she always felt she was and is today.

Many years ago, Dr. Buono had several surgeries performed to complete her transition.

One of the hardest parts of the transition was the fact that Dr. Buono was married and had three young children. Not only did she have to worry about her intrapersonal struggle but her family facing criticism as well.

Many adjustments had to be made, such as moving into an open community, taking on the roles of a woman, being judged by society, and helping her family adjust to her transition with patience and love. Her story was featured in People.com this past Mother’s Day.

As Dr. Buono finished her story, she wanted to remind us that there is no choice when it comes to being transgender.

“You don’t just decide to endure countless surgeries because it’s trendy,” said Dr. Buono. “Many people struggle with their gender identity and sadly almost 50 percent of the transgender community commits suicide. We are all human, we all have the same biological make up, yet we find all these differences to separate ourselves.”

She continued that even when we feel so different, we are not alone; there are others fighting the same battles. We should embrace diversity “because the world is a lot bigger than this classroom, and this whole town, this county and this state, and this nation.”

Dr. Buono reiterated that the only way to live her true authentic self was by letting go. She ended her talk with a quote from Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our Deepest Fear.”

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


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