Queer 101: Transphobia and Cis-Allyship Panel Summary

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Last Friday, ODEI and Unity House hosted a panel on Transphobia and Cis-Allyship in the wake of new legislation which threatens the legal and personal identity of trans people in America. The panel, hosted by co-leaders of Gender Group Micah Fisher ’21 (he/him) and Cat March (they/them), Teddy Hannah-Drullard ’20 (she/her or they/them), Professor Gilda Rodriguez (she/her), and ODEI’s Timothy Bussey (he/him) answered anonymously submitted questions having to do with resources for trans people and what cis people can do to be better allies.

Just in case you missed it, here are some of the questions answered by the panel.

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Giving Voice to the Voiceless: An Interview with Jillian Watts, Assistant Director of ODEI


Tell us a little bit about your job at ODEI, what do you like best about it?
I am one of the Assistant Directors of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I coordinate LGBTQ+ programming at Kenyon, in charge of the Alumni of Color Mentoring Initiative Program, aid in cultural programming,  co-chair the Summer Internship Stipend Fund committee, chair the LGBTQ+ advisory committee, and support students that are in need of services and mentorship. I love interacting with students the best. They have been the highlight of my time here at Kenyon. I believe that learning is reciprocal, and I definitely think that I have gained so much knowledge from my students. 
Why is diversity important? In what ways do you think Kenyon should be taking steps to do better?  
Growing up in a community in Kentucky that is much like Knox county and lacked ethnic diversity, I realize more and more as I get older of what I missed out on. My undergraduate experience was a bit of a cultural shock because oddly enough, it was the first time I had interacted with a larger group of people of color that also had aspirations towards collegiate success. I was the only student of color until my junior year of high school. My experiences with racism and classism in high school shaped me profoundly and my view of the world because I began to route my thinking and experiences in a social justice lens. Diversity, in all its forms, is essential for understanding the world around you, becoming a more empathetic person, and being able to really appreciate differences and recognize similarities in all groups. When we don’t see ourselves in others, we become critics, we marginalize, and we can become oppressive. I believe Kenyon is doing a great job in being a catalyst for change and initiatives that many campuses have not even thought to do. Like all universities and colleges I have worked for, we are striving to be more proactive with issues and to boost visible diversities on-campus. 

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