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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston celebrates first Transgender Day of Visibility

Chris Hatch
MG Xiong delivers a presentation at UMass Boston’s Transgender Day of Visibility event on Thursday, March 31, 2022. Photo courtesy of Chris Hatch / Mass Media Contributor

Joyous applause filled the Campus Center first floor terrace on Thursday, March 31, after MG Xiong took the stage to welcome roughly one hundred students, staff and faculty to the university’s first Transgender Day of Visibility.

Xiong, a third year student graduating this semester, organized the inaugural event with the support of many organizations on campus, each of whom had a table at the event, and each of whom Xiong thanked for their support and collaboration in their remarks to the community.

“This day has not been just my solo efforts, but [also those of] the community at large,” said Xiong. “And I am so, so grateful for my organizers, collaborators, the staff, faculty and students that have supported me, and for all of you for showing up today.”

While onstage, Xiong spoke about their experiences with top surgery and taking testosterone, which also prompted supportive cheers and applause from attendees.

“Today, Trans Day of Visibility, is meant to be a celebration,” said Xiong. “We’re celebrating joy today, trans joy, queer joy. We are here, and we are absolutely queer.”

Xiong also acknowledged and thanked Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Shawn De Veau while onstage.

“[De Veau] and I met yesterday to begin having these conversations,” said Xiong. “All of this work is made more possible through collaborative efforts with our administration to see what institutional changes we need.”

Xiong then transitioned into discussing the demands for UMass Boston that they drafted with their collaborators.

“A few weeks ago, as I was promoting this event, someone asked, ‘Well, what’s the day going to look like? What are we going to talk about?’” said Xiong. “And I said, ‘Well, we’re gonna start off by listing those demands.’ And they kind of exasperatedly said, ‘Oh, I’m tired of demands.’ You know that TikTok audio that’s like, ‘Imagine how tired we are’? Well, it’s exactly that. If you’re tired of listening to demands, imagine how tired we are of writing those demands!”

The demands for UMass Boston that Xiong listed included acknowledging and condemning recent attacks on transgender people across the nation, implementing developmental pathways for transgender inclusion within strategic planning efforts, being a resource provider for transgender students, and promoting trans scholarship. 

“These are the demands that I have listed for the institution, and I have engaged in active conversations with our administration to work with them closely,” said Xiong. “But I am graduating this year, and there is so much work to be done. So if you want to be a voice in this movement, talk to me, let me know.”

Xiong then made a call on the collective. 

“[The collective] is each and every one of you here today. You are the collective, you are the community, and you are a reflection of whether we are inclusive or not, whether we promote belonging, or we do not,” said Xiong.

“I ask the question: What are you willing to risk and to sacrifice for a more just society?” asked Xiong prior to their exit from the stage. 

Following Xiong’s speech, the majority of the crowd dispersed. However, many stayed for free t-shirts, stickers and refreshments.

The Mass Media spoke to an event attendee regarding their reasoning for attending the event. 

“I’m non-binary and I want to stand with my fellow queer students,” said Moss, a freshman student. 

The Mass Media also asked attendees what they would like to see from UMass Boston leadership in terms of expanding similar efforts.

“I think this should be included in more than just transgender-related issues, but actually walking the walk instead of just doing a bunch of performative BS that makes it seem like the school is inclusive or anti-racist, or pro-trans, or pro-queer, and actually see them make some meaningful changes in these areas instead of just putting out new statements,” said Victoria Holland, a junior student.

“One thing that personally affects me is that I would like to see more gender-neutral bathrooms,” said Moss. “But beyond that I just want to see more recognition for trans people and better systems in place to accommodate their needs.” 

The Mass Media also spoke with Xiong following their speech to inquire about how they felt regarding the response to the event.

“I really feel like I’m putting the ‘energetic’ in The Energetic Trans right now; there’s so much good energy flowing through this room,” said Xiong. “Everyone here has been so supportive. I really just, I guess that’s how I feel. I feel supported, I feel seen, I feel a sense of belonging, which is what I’ve been advocating for and fighting for this whole time.”

The Energetic Trans: Transgender Day of Visibility 2022 was a collaborative effort between Xiong and the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, Strong Women Strong Girls, Housing and Residential Life, U-ACCESS, the UMass Boston chapter of the NAACP, University Health Services, the Queer Student Center, the Women’s Center and the Inclusive Identity Project.  

In order to become involved in trans-advocacy conversations on campus, contact MG at [email protected].