Tyler Ford shares story, gender experience

Tyler Ford tells their story and explains their experiences with gender identity in Neumiller Hall Wednesday. Photo by Ann Schnabel.
Tyler Ford tells their story and explains their experiences with gender identity in Neumiller Hall Wednesday. Photo by Ann Schnabel.
Tyler Ford tells their story and explains their experiences with gender identity in Neumiller Hall Wednesday. Photo by Ann Schnabel.

Students were able to find some common ground after listening to speaker and writer Tyler Ford Wednesday in Neumiller Hall. Common Ground, Bradley’s gay-straight alliance, invited Ford to speak about their experience with gender identity.

Ford, who identifies as agender and asexual, spoke to students about their personal experience and journey to a group of at least 50 students.

“Non-binary, trans people have existed for all of time,” Ford said. “So, I think one of the things that is difficult about being non-binary is these endless questions. It’s like I am a question, and my body is a question that others feel entitled to have the answers to and ask me in very invasive ways.”

Ford, a media personality who has written for MTV and has appeared on the TV show “The Glee Project,” spoke about the challenges of growing up and not understanding their gender. Later, a Q-and-A session opened for about 45 minutes, during which students posed questions about gender and sexuality.

Common Ground invited Ford to campus in hope that they could shed light on different types of gender and to share their story.

“We wanted them here to talk about gender,” Common Ground President Alysen Newton said. “Gender is such a complex system, and we wanted to inform people and to get it out there. The Bradley community isn’t always very informed on these type of issues, so we definitely wanted to do that.”

Newton, a senior English education major, said Common Ground’s goal is for students to become more educated on gender issues and how to support all gender identities.

“We, as the Common Ground [executive board], don’t know everything about gender,” Newton said. “So, we are here to learn, and we want other people to learn as well.”

Students who attended the event said Ford was very helpful in educating the audience on different types of gender identification.

“Going into this, I didn’t know a lot about asexual or agender identities,” Brian Cheline, an attendee of the event, said.

Cheline, a freshman psychology major, said he learned a lot about what it means to be gender binary and what the process of identifying with gender entails.

“I thought it was very interesting, the process that they went through as in identifying [their gender],” Cheline said. “I just found it very interesting and a new experience for me to see and learn about this process.”