Emerson shows support for trans community

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • November 7, 2013

At issue: Emerson's accepting community often overlooks elements of LGBTQ

Our take: Recognizing the "T" in LGBTQ is in line with Emerson's mission

Emerson has long been lauded for its accepting community. We were ranked the most LGBTQ-friendly college by the Princeton Review this year, and the college has built a reputation among prospective students as a campus at which they can arrive and immediately feel comfortable, regardless of their sexual orientation.

But for years, some members of the Emerson community have noticed one of the letters in LGBTQ has been underappreciated. Although the college offers gender-neutral housing, it has few gender-neutral restrooms in classroom and office buildings, and historically has lacked diversity training related to trans people.

But this year, Emerson launched its first-ever Transgender Awareness Week, hosting a number of events to discuss issues about, and spark conversation on, all things trans.

While Tikesha Morgan, the director of multicultural student affairs and GLBTQ resources, acknowledged that the college might not have done enough to recognize the transgender community, this awareness week certainly shows a willingness to educate the college and bring these very real, very important issues into the forefront. 

Supporting the trans community is clearly in line with Emerson’s mission of being welcome to a diverse student body. Because few campuses across the country host these kinds of events, Emerson once again has proved itself a trailblazer on matters involving acceptance.

With student organizations like Emerson Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone collaborating on the events, and its group leaders speaking out on the importance of these issues, there was a strong student presence to complement the efforts of the college. Good on EAGLE for both bringing to light the seriousness of transgender issues on campus, and following through with its mission to host this awareness week.

It’s important to note that the week wasn’t an afterthought. Guest speakers like Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox elevated the its credibility, bolstering its ability to effect changes. And Cox recognized that the college’s events could be significant; while speaking at the Bright Family Screening Room on Monday, she said that if all trans women of color received the kind of love that the Emerson community showed her, lives would be changed.

That’s a goal we should certainly strive for. But in the meantime, Emerson should continue working toward changing lives on its own campus.