Being the Change

As the semester comes to a close and final papers are due, I began to think what my final project for Women and Gender Studies will be. This project is a “Be the Change” project which entails me proposing an issue on my campus and coming up with a call to action to begin fixing the problem I see.

Since I work for the Housing and Residence Life department at my university, I see students first hand; whether it be at their best moments or their absolute worst. I take my job very seriously and do everything I possibly can to be there for my residents, but when move in day came the obvious hit me. There were no gender neutral bathrooms in my building. Now I know there are gender neutral bathrooms around campus, although not easily accessible, but none on the “south side” of campus where the students reside. This deeply upset me and when I learned of the transgender students in my building, I was upset by their uncomfortableness. My resident specifically told me one day in a conversation we were having that they were uncomfortable using the girl's bathroom, but felt weird using the boy's bathroom because they didn’t want the boys to feel uncomfortable. This infuriated me, because why should anyone feel uncomfortable in the place they pay to live in because they have to live in these specific traditional dorms freshman year?

As I was given this project, I knew I wanted to do something meaningful and something that would make a real difference on my campus. This project gave me that.

Being an ally is one of the most important things I can do with my time here on Earth. I was given this life to make a change and be the change. It’s disheartening when I hear of so much hate and violence in the world, and although I’m just one girl, I can make an impact in my community and that’s a great start.

As my Native studies wrap up, I want to call attention to Saylesh Wesley. Wesley is a “mtf (male to female) transgendered Sto´:lo˜ citizen and PhD student in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies.” Wesley knows the many struggles first hand, yet continues to push forward and help others. Wesley is an ally. Although she is Sto´:lo˜ and her people have many traditions, she aims to keep hold of those traditions while moving forward and teaching others what it’s like to be a twin spirit within her culture today.

Wesley’s journey is such an empowering one and I can hope when I’m finished people can say the same about mine. Therefore, I will not give up and I will push forward. Progress can be made, but not by those who aren’t determined to see the change.