Umut Dursun is a Gender Education Consultant with YES Institute. He is the consummate professional on gender and orientation, having made his own transition after traversing the difficulties experienced by being assigned “female” at birth. Umut first came to YES Institute when he was a high school teacher seeking support for students dealing with gender and orientation. He saw them being bullied and also endured bullying himself from colleagues who learned he was a transgender man. YES Institute added powerful communication skills and cutting edge education to his resolute commitment to being a stand for others struggling with gender expression. He is passionate about creating a world where all youth grow up feeling like they belong and are empowered to live life as their authentic selves.
What skills and expertise do you bring to the team?
Having personally gone through a gender transition I bring the expertise of lived experience. My experiences prior to and post transitioning, from the military to being an educator at the high school and collegiate levels enables me to connect with people from many different walks of life. One of the biggest assets I bring to the team is the freedom to just be.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
As a consultant with YES Institute, I love being able to forward conversations on gender. I never question the power of this work and the ability to make a difference for all youth and families. It is rewarding to know that I play a part in empowering people to use their voices to work towards their purpose.
What has YES Institute done that you’re particularly proud of?
What I’m most proud of is being able to have conversations with educators, doctors and healthcare professionals that directly impact the care of our youth. Using our model of communication and having conversations that no one else has, opening up doors that many would see as closed, and being a stand for a community united. I’m proud that YES Institute gets invited to have conversations on gender and orientation in places that most others would fear to work with.
Do you have a favorite question?
One of my favorite questions is “If you could go anywhere where would that be?” I answer this question different every time it is asked. There is so much in the world and what I love about this question is it keeps a sense of adventure alive.
Name a peak experience in your life. What happened?
A peak experience in my life was when I allowed myself to be! I transitioned to male socially and medically and finally began to live life to the fullest. Only since transitioning have I been able to experience love and peace. It has allowed me to stop hiding from the world around me and actually engage in it.