Penn State Hazleton to host speaker on transgender issues

HAZLETON, Pa. — Penn State Hazleton will host its annual diversity presentation on Thursday, April 26, featuring transgender writer, speaker and activist Aiden James Kosciesza. The program, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room 115 of the Evelyn Graham Academic Building.

Kosciesza has given presentations about LGBT civil rights and later developed a focus on transgender issues as he explored his own identity as a transgender man. He has been sharing his personal story of transition across America and worldwide since 2011, speaking to universities, conferences, hospitals, businesses and other groups to introduce audiences to transgender issues and to his own personal story.

Born with two X chromosomes and assigned female at birth, Kosciesza took nearly 20 years to realize his male gender identity. His journey has taken him through high and low points: from dark days of high school confusion and self-harm, to a limbo between knowledge and action when he lived semi-closeted in Japan, to the assertion of his male identity through legal gender transition and hormone therapy.

In 2011, he spent three months traveling around the world with the Peace Boat, a Japan-based NGO that promotes peace through sustainable tourism. It was there that he spoke publicly for the first time about his gender transition, and the success of that voyage inspired him to continue his speaking career when he returned to the United States. His personal mission is to foster acceptance of transgender people worldwide through increased awareness and understanding of gender identity.

Kosciesza earned a bachelor’s degree from Drew University in 2005 and a master’s degree in English from Villanova University in 2011. His thesis, entitled “Ordinary, Extraordinary Men: Heroism, Community, Crisis, and the Prescription for American Masculinity in Continental Drift, Watchmen, and Fight Club,” studies manhood in post-Vietnam, pre-9/11 American literature and resonates with his experience of defining his own masculinity. He is an English professor at the Community College of Philadelphia.