OSU Queers and Allies, in honor of Transgender Awareness Week, wanted to inform transgender students of the resources for them in the panel titled Pink, White, Blue and You: A Trans Advocacy Panel.
Irissa Baxter, OSUQ&A's adviser, saw that students needed to be aware of what was available to them in Oklahoma and educating students on the experience of being transgender.
“We really want to make sure that we are getting all of the access to individuals here in Stillwater,” Baxter said. “Sometimes, because we are more rural, these resources aren’t reaching all of the students, faculty and staff here on campus and here in the community… [OSUQ&A] Trying to bring these different kinds of resources on campus to make sure people are getting access to that information.”
The panel was made up of the leaders of Transpire Oklahoma, Saylor and Siren Sorail, Kelley Blair from The Diversity Center of Oklahoma, Sue Jacobs, Rachel McCartney and Diversity Advocate Lynn Jones.
The panel was invited to discuss the resources they could provide to students questioning, transitioning or dealing with anything else that might happen. While centered in Tulsa, Transpire is trying to ensure the resources they provide are reaching the students on campus who need them.
“We’re both nonbinary, and this a project that’s very close to our hearts," Saylor said. "Just to get any resources out into the community is very important to the both of us."
Saylor explained the importance of giving trans people access to the resources they need.
“A lot of trans people don’t have those resources readily available and that can be very detrimental to their health, physically and mentally," Saylor said. "Getting those resources to them can help them find a will to live as well as just making sure they’re happy and healthy.”
In more rural areas, like Stillwater, resources to change a name or other components involved in transitioning can be difficult to find. Baxter felt providing a platform for people to inform trans students about what is available to them would be beneficial.
“If we talk or think about LGBTQ issues we focus on urban people because more of a concentrated population,” Baxter said. “It is an often overlooked population when it comes to access to these things."
But the LGBTQ community is seeing progress right here in rural Oklahoma.
"We had our first Pride Parade just this year, so we’re still working on building up those resources here in town,” Baxter said.
Outside of just informing trans students of the resources available to them, the panel was also to inform students who could be unfamiliar with gender issues. Jones wants to trans visiblitity in communities likeOSU.
“I feel that trans people have skin in the game so we need to be understood, we need to step away from the bigotry and stuff like that,” Jones said. “Being in the Bible Belt, you getting a lot of hatred just walking down the street. I feel like the more that they see us, they’ll find out we’re just regular people.”
Every trans person has their own journey in becoming their authentic selves and the organizations that spoke on the panel work towards providing them the resources they need to be themselves.
“Normalizing that we are all people, everybody in the LGBTQ community but especially transgender people are just people like anyone else,” Baxter said. “We want to make sure everyone is able to have the resources and access to the life they want to live.”