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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston to hold first Transgender Day of Visibility event


Promotional poster for the Transgender Day of Visibility at UMass Boston on March 31, 2022.

Mar. 31, 2022 will mark the International Transgender Day of Visibility. Third year philosophy and public policy major MG Xiong has organized “The Energetic Trans: Transgender Day of Visibility 2022,” to take place on that day from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the Campus Center First Floor Terrace. The Mass Media spoke to Xiong for more details and their motivations for organizing the event.
Question: Tell me a bit about the 2022 Transgender Day of Visibility.

Answer: So, Transgender Day of Visibility is really a time to honor trans people and trans voices, and a lot of times, gender non-conforming and queer people are de-historicized and not acknowledged on really any level. One of those levels in particular within my area of focus has been academia and in universities. And so, the event at UMass Boston for Transgender Day of Visibility is really meant to call on the collective to bring attention and awareness, and really bring visibility to queer existence, especially within queer scholars—both students and faculty alike.

Q: So what does the “Energetic Trans” part of the title of the event refer to?

A: Oh, I love love love this question, because no one has asked before! So, I am the energetic trans. So the backstory is, over the summer, my roommate Kiana, who is also non-binary, we were watching fireworks with our neighbors, and they were trying to describe the fireworks as some sort of energetic transformation, and as they were looking to find the right words they were like ‘Energetic trans?’ And I just said, ‘Energetic trans,’ and that was that. And so, it has a lot of personal meaning because Kiana is the first person who made me realize that I can just say that I’m queer and be queer, and so, the energetic trans is really just good, queer energy to put out into the world to support human flourishing.

Q: What inspired you to organize this event?

A: As I embark on my philosophy capstone project, ‘Beyond the Binary: Trans Belonging in the Academic Realm,’ within the philosophy department, I have been centering my research around trans existence and experience, specifically in spaces of learning. And I knew that the day was coming up, and I didn’t see any existing event or even acknowledgement of both Transgender Day of Visibility or even trans existence within the university. And so I really just took it upon myself to do exactly what I was looking for and involve my community in that, collaborate with different student centers, and make the day happen for UMass Boston.

Q: Why is holding this event so important for the UMass Boston community?

A: So, UMass Boston touts its mission to be an anti-racist and health-promoting community, and that is absolutely impossible without transgender inclusion. So [the event exists] in order to actually work towards that mission and achieve some sense of belonging for queer people, but also for all people within the university. Having this day and holding this event is working towards the diversity that we claim, but actually honoring that diversity in more ways than one.

Q: So what can members of the UMass Boston community do to support trans inclusion on campus?

A: So I have co-written with other queer students both demands for the institution, which includes university-level structural changes, in addition to a call on the collective, which includes the everyday person on how we work towards this common goal. Some very simple things to include trans people and foster that sense of belonging is by just actively engaging in learning about trans issues. Right now in the news, Lia Thomas—who is a D1 swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania—recently won the NCAA championships in a swimming event, and that has brought a lot of heat onto her for being a transgender woman in sports. And so, educating yourself about the current events that are affecting trans people every day, and ensuring that your cultural intelligence centers around flourishing specifically for trans people within the context of these issues [supports trans inclusion]. More generally, it’s as little as including your pronouns in your Zoom name or your email signature, because trans people have been the ones that have—there’s a history of trans people identifying themselves with their pronouns and so, in order to normalize pronoun usage where it’s not just queer people that introduce themselves, cisgender people alike can identify themselves with their pronouns to make it more comfortable for all people to share, especially when their pronouns fall outside of the gender binary.

Q: So you are graduating this spring—are there any plans in the works to make this happen again after you depart?

A: I would love for this to be the first of many; I think my main goal of working with and collaborating with so many student centers and student groups—it’s for Transgender Day of Visibility, and also just trans rights in general, to be integrated within these student centers and different organizations for it to continue beyond me organizing this independently as a student, but be part of the fabric of the organizations that are student-centered, really. And so I’m working with the Queer Student Center, the NAACP, Strong Women Strong Girls, Housing and Residential Life among many others and so, to involve these people means to encourage them to go from allyship to activism and make this a part of their everyday mission.
For more information regarding the event, email MG at [email protected].