Logan Square Arts Fest

On Saturday and Sunday, June 25th and 26th, Human Library Chicago partnered with the Logan Square Arts Fest to bring a Human Library event to the Logan Square community. Books featured at this event included  Senior Citizen, Independent Pro Wrestler, Brain Tumor Survivor, Transgender MinisterCPS Teacher, Ex Convict, Living with HIV, Adopted, Blind, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Adopted, and Teen Parent. We were proud to be part of this annual arts festival and reach many new people who were previously unaware of the Human Library and its concept. See all photos from the event here.

National Veterans Art Museum

On Saturday, April 30th, 2016, Human Library Chicago partnered with the National Veteran’s Art Museum to bring a Human Library event to this amazing space in Chicago. Books featured at this event included Brain Tumor Survivor, Adoptee, Mexican-American, Senior Citizen, Independent Pro Wrestler, Dominatrix, Complex PTSD/DiD, and Vietnam Veteran.  We were happy to host this one of a kind event with NVAM- the first Human Library event we’ve held in a museum! The artwork created an amazing backdrop for our conversations. See all photos from the event here.

2nd annual Partnership with IIT

On March 31st, 2016, Human Library Chicago partnered for the second time with IIT to bring the Human Library to their campus. Through our partnership, we were able to mostly feature books from the student body and staff. The event even attracted staff from Andrews University to participate as readers. Take a look at our event: all of the photographs can be seen here.

Titles available from the student body included Undocumented and European, Gay, African American, Black Muslim Girl, and Survivor of Abuse.

We would like to thank IIT and it’s wonderful students and staff who worked tirelessly to make this event a success. Additionally, we’d like to thank Southside Occupational Academy whose Production Class students screen printed our t-shirts.

Human Library Chicago at Deborah’s Place

On March 26th 2016, Human Library Chicago held an event at Deborah’s Place in the North Lawndale community of Chicago. Deborah’s Place is the largest provider or supportive housing for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. Our event was open to the residents and staff of Deborah’s Place, but also to the public. Take a look at our event: all of the photographs can be seen here.

We featured more Books at this event than any other. Our books at this event included Veteran, Senior CitizenBiracial, Asexual, Baha’i, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Arab Expat, Transgender Minister, Polyamorous Couple, HIV Positive, Chronic Depression, and Adoptee.

We would like to thank staff at Deborah’s Place for inviting us to use their space and  for working with us on creating such a successful event. Additionally, we’d like to thank Southside Occupational Academy whose Production Class students screen printed our t-shirts.  Thank you to all that participated.

Join our Board of Directors

Human Library Chicago is seeking an organized and creative individual to serve on our Board of Directors. Our Board of Directors handles all major work on our events which may include assisting with advertising events, crafting e-newsletters, interviewing volunteers, training volunteers, helping to recruit volunteers, revising event materials, attending and volunteering at events. As a member of our Board of Directors, one would also be required to attend most of our monthly meetings, weigh in and vote on events and organization development. Apply today. 

 

Bezazian Library: November 14th, 2015

On November 14th, 2015, Human Library Chicago held it’s final event of the year in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago at Bezazian Public Library. Our ‘books’ were taken out over 45 times. Take a look at our event: all of the photographs can be seen here.

Our books at this event included Veteran, Senior Citizen, Muslim, CPS Teacher, Black, Growing up in a Blended Family, Biracial, Sex Worker, and Asexual.

We would like to thank staff at Bezazian Library for working with us on creating such a successful event. Additionally, we’d like to thank Southside Occupational Academy whose Production Class students screen printed our t-shirts.  We hope that everyone who participated in the event had as much fun as we had putting it together.

Partnership with IIT

On April 16th, 2015, Human Library Chicago partnered with IIT to bring the Human Library to their campus for the first time. Through our partnership, we were able to mostly feature books from the student body- with a few of our own published titles included. The event was highly praised by all student readers who participated. Take a look at our event: all of the photographs can be seen here.

Our books at this event included Transgender Male, Veteran, Transgender Minister, and Senior Citizen. Titles available from the student body included Undocumented and European, Suicide Loss Survivor, Polyamorous and Asexual, and Queer Psychologist.

We would like to thank IIT and it’s wonderful students and staff who worked tirelessly to make this event a success. Additionally, we’d like to thank Southside Occupational Academy whose Production Class students screen printed our t-shirts.  We hope that everyone who participated in the event had as much fun as we had putting it together.

Sulzer Library- March 14th, 2015

On March 14, 2015, Human Library Chicago held its first event of the year at Sulzer Regional Library. It was a huge success and we’d like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who was part of it. Our books were taken out over 50 times by readers. This event also featured our newly designed photo booth. We asked our readers to participate in the photo booth to underline the idea that everyone is human beyond a label. All of the photographs can be seen here.

Our books at this event included HIV Positive, Biracial, Iranian Feminist, Physical Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Transgender Male, Veteran, and Brain Tumor Survivor.

We would like to thank Sulzer Regional Library and it’s wonderful Librarians who helped make this event possible by providing us with a great space and logistical support. Additionally, we’d like to thank Southside Occupational Academy whose Production Class students screen printed our t-shirts. A huge thanks to Native Foods for providing lunch for all of our volunteers for the event. Finally, we want to thank every person who participated in our event. Without readers like you, events like this would not be possible. We hope that everyone who participated in the event had as much fun as we had putting it together.

A Special Thank You

There are a lot of people that helped make our last event at Sulzer Regional Library a success. Human Library Chicago, first and foremost, would like to thank all of our amazing volunteers- both our books and librarians- without whom our events would not be possible. We truly appreciate every volunteer who made our first event of 2015 a success. We would also like to thank Southside Occupational Academy High School, whose students made our amazing T-shirts for the event. Additionally, we’d like to thank Native Foods, who donated the lunches to our volunteers. The event was also featured in DNAinfo and we are thankful for the buzz this created. Finally, we’d like to thank the readers- those who attend our event, take part, and are willing to learn more about others in the community around them- because without their curiosity and participation, we could not exist. I know our books enjoyed the conversation just as much as the readers did.

When we held our first event last June, I never imagined that Human Library Chicago would grow and gain as much interest as it has. I am very lucky to have a dedicated Board of Directors who worked tirelessly to put on this successful event at Sulzer Regional Library. We look forward to gaining more books and putting on more events for the Chicago community.

Marlena Johnson

President of Human Library Chicago

Casey: My Story as a Transgender Male

Although most people see me and read me as male now, that has not always been the case. When I was growing up everyone assumed I was a girl, and for a long time I lived my life accepting everyone else’s assumption as fact and living in accordance with it. My freshman year in college was the first time I read about a trans-man’s experience, and it resonated deeply with my own feelings and experiences. It was the first time I knew that there were other people like me out there and that someone else felt like this too. It was the first time I didn’t feel alone. Even as the euphoria of this epiphany faded I knew that transition would not be an easy thing to do. In fact it was a seemingly impossible and terrifying thing to do.

Well several years later it turns out not to be an impossible thing to do, but it is terrifying and difficult at times, but absolutely worth it. It was four long years after I realized I was transgender that I had finally come out and managed to navigate the medical establishment in order to begin medically transitioning. I started taking testosterone and that gradually changed my appearance; my voice dropped, my face shape changed, I put on muscle especially on the shoulders, and eventually started getting facial hair. It’s rather awkward to go through puberty at twenty-three. Within a year of starting testosterone I was pretty consistently being read as male by people who hadn’t known me previously. But that was just the physical process. It was a really fascinating experience experiencing puberty a second time and as an adult no less. I was and am fascinated by the way gender, as a social system, and the hormonal balance of the body shapes behavior and changed the way I perceived and interacted with the world. Plus watching how peoples reactions changed as my appearance changed was incredibly informative.

So I identify as transgender, and I feel like it informs a lot of the things I do. It is a defining
theme that I have carried through my life, but it has come with its difficulties. The personal discomfort, the real physical pain, and the social consequences do take their toll. I have people question me, and question my friends behind my back, with inappropriate
questions about what I ‘really’ am or what my ‘junk’ looks like. I am sometimes afraid to use the bathroom at public places because I am afraid of people reactions if they don’t perceive me to be using the ‘right’ bathroom, or know that I am transgender. I routinely have to wait hours to find a safe restroom even when public restrooms are available at any time for everyone else. I will have to pay medical bills for the rest of my life, of which insurance is likely to exclude. I can’t live my life as who I am without binding my chest, but binding is painful and can be damaging over long periods of time. I have bound my chest pretty nearly all day everyday for the last four years. No I don’t want to go for a run, and no I don’t want to take the stairs, I can’t breath. Yet the medical surgery that could relieve my physical pain and emotional dysphoria is considered optional and cosmetic by insurance companies. To top it all off many medical professionals are unfamiliar with transgender health care and wary of dealing with trans people even with medical issues that are actually unrelated to being transgender.

In order to access gendered resources, college housing for example, it frequently requires my legal gender marker to match my identity. However some states do not even let you change the gender marker at all, and many states have onerous processes and require surgeries and doctors certifications in order to change it. This requires the same medical treatment mentioned before which is both very expensive and frequently excluded under health insurance. I am terrified of being pulled over or carded because my ID doesn’t match who I am and that can attract scrutiny. No matter who I’m with or where I am I can never be sure of someone’s reaction if they find out that I’m trans which could put me in potentially dangerous situations. Then there is a never-ending list of smaller difficulties of never fitting into the gender binary quite right, from job applications to sports teams to clothing. Sometimes all this makes me really cranky. Yet on average I’m a happier person and it is less stress to deal with all of these problems than to live life as someone I’m not.

Yet I know that I have had a relatively easy time of it. Many transgender people face far worse consequences. Many transgender women, especially women of color, are murdered in the United States every year. Many trans people face serious harassment campaigns and attacks. People are fired from their jobs for being transgender. Kids are kicked out of their homes for being transgender. Teenagers just coming into their own are so beat down, ostracized, and bullied that they cannot go on and find suicide to be their only escape. There is so much pressure to conform to gender norms that it can and does kill people.

When I stepped outside the standard expectations it gave me a chance to evaluate the social sphere I’ve been so immersed in my entire life from a new outsider’s experience. It has expanded my awareness of social problems beyond just my own. I do not think I would care as much about diversity, inclusion, advocacy, and community development as I do if I was not so potently aware of the struggle when you go against the norm. I can only hope that as people become more aware of these issues we can work towards reducing the stigma and violence people experience. I hope that humanizing these experiences will bring a better understanding and empathy into the public mind.