The LGBTQ+ Project hosted its second Transgender Day of Celebration event during the weekend of International Transgender Day of Visibility 2019 on March 29 to celebrate the University’s transgender students.
The theme for this year’s event was “Surviving, Thriving (#TransThriving)” and Ethan Hunter, the LGBTQ+ Project Graduate Coordinator, planned the party to celebrate the accomplishments of transgender and gender expansive students on campus.
The event was a “re/birthday party” and included fun things like sweet treats, games and a clothing drive. Along with the clothing drive, there was a clothing swap to allow students who attended the event to achieve new looks for free.
Hunter shared how important he believed this event was for the students here on campus. “In LSU’s 2016-17 Campus Climate Survey, 51% of transgender and GE students ‘reported at least sometimes being made uncomfortable due to colleague/coworker or peer comments,” Hunter shared.
“This event is important for that very reason — it celebrates our trans and GE friends’ thrivlihood and serves to sustain and support them as indispensable citizens of the LSU community. It celebrates the unique ways in which these individuals contribute to the success of our University, and serves to remind them that they are welcome, supported and loved,” Hunter said.
A lot of hard work goes into putting on events and working to accurately and effectively support and represent the LGBTQ+ community on campus, but it’s hard work that helps positively impact all students on campus.
“LSU most importantly the Project helps make LSU a more sustaining and affirming environment for LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff by actively educating our fellow citizens about the unique needs of their marginalized peers, colleagues and students while tirelessly fighting for equity in policy, and developing social, personal, professional and academic programming for LGBTQ+ and allied students,” Hunter said.
Hunter does believe that the University should give more support to their LGBTQ+ students. The LGBTQ+ Project is the only organization the University has that fully focuses on aiding its marginalized students. Hunter is also the only employee here at the University with a job title including LGBTQ+.
“LSU should sustain their LGBTQ+ citizens with institutionally supported space, resources, support and consideration. A full-time employee devoted to LGBTQ+ needs and concerns, an LGBTQ+ Center and institution-wide policy change that witnesses these marginalized identities,” Hunter said.
On a hopeful note, Hunter shared that there is a proposal for an LGBTQ+ Center in the LSU Capital Campaign this year.
The LGBTQ+ Project hopes to find an energy-efficient way to renovate the Old Dean French House into an LGBTQ+ Center. The Dean French House was built for the Dean of Men when the school separated men and women, so the rich history of the building is of interest to the organization so they can continue to use it to promote positive change at the University.
Hunter shared that the current drafted mission statement of the center is this: “The mission of the LSU LGBTQ+ Center is to provide a sustained and sustaining space for LSU’s diverse LGBTQ+ communities, and to offer LGBTQ+-related educational resources, social opportunities and referral services to all members of the campus community.”
It goes on to state that “The Center is a space in which the campus’ LGBTQ+ communities can organize and share multiple forms of intersectional education, outreach and advocacy around and involving issues associated with sexual and gender identities.”