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Students advocate for the trans community


On Thursday, Feb. 28 Drake University held an event titled Become a Trans Community Advocate. The event was held in Sussman Theater, located in the lower level of Olmsted.

The first speaker was sophomore environmental major Autumn Ellisor, who also prepared a slideshow going over recent incidents currently affecting transgendered people. The incidents presented include the protections previously offered to LGBTQ+ people, which have now been peeled back, or the instance of how our current president has appointed several circuit court judges like Brett Kavanaugh, who have a record of anti-LGBTQ+ stances.

“I learned the issues really facing the trans community more in depth,” junior biology and environmental science major Olivia George said. “Like, I knew there were things that have come up, especially with this administration, that were problematic, like the actual long term implications of those things. such as the court appointments and how those are going to be in effect long after the Trump administration is hopefully gone.”

The goals of this event were to educate the campus on current events, on what people can do about it and how campus community members can be better advocates in general. One of the speakers, Ric Tennenbaum, a Campus Coordinator at Iowa Safe Schools, spoke about how these goals can apply to college students.

“I’m hoping that they got a better understanding or a more comprehensive understanding of the current climate facing transgender and gender nonconforming students on college campuses,” Tennenbaum said. “ And also some ways that they can show up for transgender students. Both their everyday lives and also thinking more long-term.”

According to Tennenbaum, there are a number of ways that the administration can help, such as offering more and better gender-inclusive housing on campus, more all gendered restrooms and amending non-discrimination policies to include gender identity and expression. Tennenbaum also went over the ways that students can help too.

“Just everyday ways that other students can show up for transgender students like intervening when they hear micro aggressions or transphobic jokes,” Tennenbaum said. “And just avoiding assuming people’s genders by using gender neutral language.”

Another speaker at the event was Jack Schuler, who talked about his time in the military which encompassed both “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the current transgender ban. The latter of which could cause the loss of several potential resources during a crisis.

“I saw a lot of nodding and more than that, everyone seemed engaged. Everyone was paying attention and there was some really great questions asked at the end,” Tennenbaum said.


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