Transgender | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon | Pexels.com
The Wright State University (WSU) Office of LGBTQ Affairs will be hosting the first-ever Transgender Resource Week this year between Oct. 12 and 16, offering guidance to transgender students in a virtual manner.
Rescheduling the event
The event was originally scheduled to take place as an in-person transgender resource fair on Transgender Day of Visibility, which occurred on March 31. However, the coronavirus forced the event’s cancellation. The Office of LGBTQ Affairs began discussions about rescheduling the fair in June and settled on the week of Oct. 12-16 for it to take place.
Associate Director of LGBTQ Affairs Emily Yantis-Houser explained that this particular week was selected for two special reasons.
“We chose this week because Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day and October is LGBTQ History Month, so we felt like both of those things were a great opportunity to hold our resource fair,” said Yantis-Houser.
Since the pandemic has extended into the fall semester, the office decided to make the event virtual and extend it into a week-long engagement.
“We made it a week-long event where all of the folks who were going to join us in person could have an opportunity to present throughout the week, and we could spread it out some more and have more time and availability because it’s virtual,” said Yantis-Houser.
During this event, a variety of workshops and panels will take place to support transgender students and their families. These workshops involve a variety of topics, ranging from gender-affirming clothing to the experiences of transgender families.
All of the sponsors who had originally signed up to present during Transgender Day of Visibility are still presenting during Transgender Resource Week, including B.UR.SLF, LLC. and Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County.
Yantis-Houser explained their process for reaching out to these sponsors.
“When we first put out for resources, we put out a sponsorship packet because we also wanted to raise money to start a trans student scholarship, and so we put out the ask like ‘would anyone like to be a part of this resource fair and would you like to donate money to the scholarship fund?’” said Yantis-Houser. “Basically, most of the folks that are presenting are those that gave to the scholarship.”
As of Oct. 11, the office has raised over $10,000 for the Trans Scholars Fund. The Dollars for Trans Scholars Virtual Drag Show will be hosted on Friday, Oct. 16, raising money for the fund.
The benefits and disadvantages of a virtual event
The March event was open to the community as well as Wright State students. Yantis-Houser explained that the office took this into account while weighing their options.
“We were in touch with local high schools, and we were hoping to have a pretty big crowd, so we didn’t necessarily want to lose those folks with the in-person restrictions that we have now,” said Yantis-House. “Honestly, virtually helps us maintain, if not grow, that audience. I think in the long run, it’s probably going to work out better for us because it’s more accessible.”
President of Rainbow Alliance Drew Gillum agreed with Yantis-Houser that this accessibility would benefit the workshop and its audience.
“One thing that I do think is really cool that I don’t think we would be able to do if it was in person is that people from different universities are going to be able to attend,” said Gillum. “I assume that most of those people would not drive up here to attend, but since it’s online, we’ll be able to interact more with people from other universities.”
However, Gillum does see a drawback to the event being online.
“I think it’s really important for people to just get to talk to each other. I do think that some of that is lost when you’re online, just like, by chance, running into people and becoming friends, especially younger people that aren’t as connected to other trans people.”
The event’s impact on transgender students
Gillum explained that having this type of event is important for transgender students, especially this year, because they may be stuck in their homes with unsupportive relatives.
“Normally, they would be able to be on campus and they wouldn’t have to live at home,” said Gillum. “That was a big concern last year when people got sent home very abruptly, and I think it’s just important that we keep that education going and keep community building even though we can’t meet in person.”
Charlotte Eakin, a senior mechanical engineering major, explained that Transgender Resource Week is helpful to trans students across campus, and the transgender community in general since it gives them resources that they may not already possess.
“Being able to have information, instead of having to look for information while doing studies in college, being able to have it given to you is much easier,” said Eakin. “It helps a lot with stress levels and self-esteem, knowing that there’s somebody there to give you information and be able to help you.”