College OTR: Wesleyan

We just added a new blog to our blogroll: College On The Record – Wesleyan. For the summer, Jean Pockrus ’08 is its chief contributor, and I’ve gotta say – it’s already got some really interesting and informative posts. From the more silly (a chronicle of a road trip to Nebraska, home of Nebraska Wesleyan) to the more serious (what’s it like being genderqueer in the real world after Wesleyan? sometimes dangerous), it’s targeted as much to recent alums as to current students.

I think the post “My Transgender Life After Wesleyan: Transphobia” is particularly important to read. Here’s an excerpt, but I encourage you to go to College OTR and read the whole thing:

Yesterday I was violently, physically attacked by a group of transphobic teenagers, three girls probably between the ages of 15 and 17 years old, in downtown Philadelphia. I was waiting for a bus on the corner as the three girls were walking across the street, staring at me and saying aloud to each other, “Is that a boy or a girl?” Then they began addressing me, “Are you a boy or a girl?” while looking down on me and laughing.

I did what I usually do in these transphobic situations when I’m taunted or stared at. I stared back. I stared back at the girls and said plainly, “It’s rude to stare at people.” (I also usually answer: “No, I’m not a boy or a girl,” to that familiar question, “Are you a boy or a girl?” But I didn’t say anything else this time.) One of their friends who was walking with them, a young man who looked about twenty, shouted, “Oh! That bitch said ‘respect her.'” I thought the group was just going to continue walking on and leave me alone, but a few moments later one of the girls took a few sauntering steps towards me, smiling a little, and then pulled her arm back fast and punched me hard in the left side of my face.

I want to reach out to transgender and gender non-conforming activist groups in Philly and let them know about what happened to me on the street that day. Both physical violence and verbal assault against LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people are under-reported. Right now, I don’t know who to tell about this. It’s a very isolating experience in many ways, but it makes me want to work harder to create a better world for LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people. We need to have a way to measure the climate for LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people and we need ways to educate each other and our larger communities about incidents of assault and harassment.

I plan to post more about LGBQ, transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming life during and after college in the future on www.collegeotr.com/wesleyan. I want to use my experiences to bring these issues to light.

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