Section: News

ODEI brings ACLU activist Catalleya Storm to campus

On Nov. 27 about 40 students, staff and administrators gathered in Peirce Pub to hear transgender activist and educator Catalleya Storm speak in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance/Resilience.

Originally scheduled for Nov. 20, Storm’s talk was pushed back a week due to dangerous road conditions.

Storm is a policy associate with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio. The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), as part of their effort to increase LGBTQ+ specific programming.

“We’ve been trying to make sure that we’re keeping an eye out and staying on the lookout for relevant contemporary LGBTQ+ speakers, both here in Ohio, but also nationally,” Assistant Director of ODEI Timothy Bussey said.   

The Transgender Day of Remembrance/Resilience began in 1999 after the death of Rita Hester, who  was a transgender woman killed the year prior in Allston, Massachusetts. The day was intended as a vigil to commemorate her along with the countless other trans people whose lives have been cut short by violence, according to GLAAD, an organization that advocates for inclusive coverage of the LGBTQ+ community in the media.     

Following tradition, the event started with a moment of silence and recognition to commemorate this year’s victims of anti-trans violence, along with a reading of the identified victims’ names.   

Storm’s talk centered around resilience within queer and trans populations, and the way in which that resilience, especially as demonstrated by older members of the community, is the key to working towards progress for trans people.

In their lecture, Storm emphasized the importance of seeing these victims as individuals with distinct stories. “Not just a name but an actual person,” Bussey said, “with a life, with loved ones and with connections to the community.”

Bussey said that, because of the nature of the topic, the atmosphere at the talk was generally solemn. At the same time, however, he said that Storm’s message inspired motivation and passion in those who attended.

“So I think that, at least from the feedback I heard from students, was that they were really happy that this event happened, they were happy to have the perspectives of Catalleya represented on campus,” Bussey said.

ODEI hopes to bring more intersectional speakers like Storm, a non-binary person of color, to campus, according to Bussey. He said the LGBTQ+ community comprises such a diverse array of identities that it’s important to include all of them when trying to represent that community.

“When we also think intersectionally about things like race, gender, sex, sexuality, ability status, nationality, all of these different categories, that’s a very diverse community,” Bussey said. “And so we’re also trying to make sure to be cognizant of really representing as many different intersectional identities in [as] meaningful a way as possible.”

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