By Roman Habibzai
On Thursday, September 27th, Sarah McBride visited campus to discuss her new book Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality. McBride talked about her journey from being a past Student Government President at American University to becoming the first openly transgender person to speak at the 2016 Democratic National Committee and current National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.
McBride spoke to students about the importance of campus activism and resources available to transgender students. In particular, accessibility to bathrooms for all non-binary students.
"It's so important to make sure that students voices are being heard throughout the administration on these issues. Students who aren't LGBTQ must understand their responsibility. Because I think that one of the traps that folks fall into here at AU is that they ignore the change that's right in front of them," said McBride.
“And if we can't change our campus, we are going to have a lot of problems when we try to change this country, ”— Sarah McBride
While interning on the hill is an "awesome" experience, she said, nothing can quite compare to the possibility for making change on campus.
McBride also talked about the different privileges she believes people have. These privileges are especially prevalent when addressing the shocking rates of suicide attempts among transgender people of color. She said she never had to think about her safety walking down the street as a manâ€” a thought that is now a reality for her and so many others.
"I knew that it would be dehumanizing and I know that it would make me feel unsafe. But I didn't realize just how dehumanizing it would feel to have a stranger feel entitled to comment on my body," said McBride.
“You can have a leadership role about making real significant meaningful change that will mean a lot to people who need it right here. And in doing so, you will create a model for this country for what it would like to have inclusive, safe, affirming, and accessible space for all people and that won't just end up changing American, but America as well.”— Sarah McBride
Current Student Government President Valentina FernÃ¡ndez was also in attendance. She said she believes that Student Government should do more to ensure that the student body is comfortable expressing their concerns, especially LGBTQ+ students.
"Student government can't expect to have affinity group organizations whether they're racial or whether it's PRIDE to feel comfortable coming to us when there has been historically misrepresentation and historically a lot of imperialism where student government kinda takes over everything," said FernÃ¡ndez.
The new paid position for Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a part of Student Government's recent work towards inclusivity. "One of the roles of the director includes creating an internal assessment of the diversity within AUSG. And then taking steps to proactively reach out to organizations and clubs to see how we can bring in more students who haven't typically been represented in the Student Government bodies and to these spaces," said FernÃ¡ndez. She hopes that the parternship between KPU and PRIDE is a step in the right direction
Sarah Everett, Executive Director of PRIDE (People Respecting Individual Diversity Everywhere), talked about their current on campus initiatives to support Queer students. "Our QTPOC space, led by Caleb Jackson, works to create community for those folks and we're working to create an allyship workshop that will be coming to the campus community this fall," Everett said.
"We're also working with a number of offices on campus to advocate for financial support for LGBTQ students who lose parental support and to create more transparent processes for social transition at AU," said Everett. "It's also a priority of our e-board to work with organizations that traditionally cater to students of color, to support their advocacy, and partner and share their programming whenever it's possible,"