By Brian Abate
Transgender students at the University of Maryland talked about how other members of the UMD community could support them at the Rainbow Terps Luncheon: Supporting #TransTerps at Marie Mount Hall.
This event is one of many that Rainbow Terrapin Network, a network of staff, faculty and students on UMD’s campus committed to the inclusion of the LGBT community, is hosting this year.
“This was a chance to reach out to faculty and other students on campus so we can work with them on how to make transgender students feel respected and included,” said Sika Wheeler, the coordinator at the LGBT Equity Center and head organizer of the event. “We try to focus on doing what we can because big changes take a long time, especially on such a big campus.”
Students at the event spoke about the importance of going out and getting involved in events like the luncheon.
“I haven’t seen [transgender] issues get all that much attention,” said Ian Guo, a sophomore computer science major. “It’s important to have events like this because this is an easy way for professors and students to get involved.”
Many faculty members also attended the event. Some said they felt it was an important learning opportunity for them.
“I’m here because I want to use my position within the university to be more inclusive of and a stronger advocate for members of the LGBTQ community,” said Donal O’Leary, a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Department of Geographical Sciences.
Other faculty members echoed Leary’s sentiment.
“I like to spend time with all students on campus, and I think it’s important that we all get involved in supporting every member of this diverse campus,” said Sue Johnston, an Instructional Designer at UMD.
Multiple members at the event also said they felt it was important for events supporting members of the LGBTQ community to get attention from media outlets.
“I’ve been really impressed with the uptick of transgender issues in the media, but I would like to see more concrete examples of how allies can advocate for LGBTQ issues,” said O’Leary.
Wheeler also said media coverage was an important part of spreading awareness.
“I think it’s great that there have been a lot of requests from papers on campus,” said Wheeler. “I’m not as worried about the larger papers because they feel kind of disconnected from what happens on campus. I think The Diamondback and smaller papers have done a really good job covering LGBTQ stories. I just hope there are a lot of readers seeing the stories.”
There will be another Rainbow Terps Luncheon: Supporting #TransTerps on Tuesday, October 31, from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.