The recent terrifying shooting in a Colorado nightclub underscores the vulnerability of transgender and LGBTQIA-diverse peoples and the urgent need for better measures to ensure inclusion and safety. According to the Equity and Inclusion Vocabulary [https://www.mtu.edu/diversity-center/resources/vocabulary/] resource from the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion, “Identifying as transgender, or trans, means that one’s internal sense of gender is different from […] the sex that person was assigned at birth.” Trans includes genders “other than woman or man, such as nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, no gender or multiple genders, or some other gender identity.” Life on campus for those who live these definitions is fraught, now more than ever.
A focused review of research in education, transgender and queer studies, and psychology examined three themes related to the microclimates for trans individuals on campus: (a) disclosing trans identities, (b) trans communities, and (c) resources and career-level support (Seigel, 2019) [DOI: 10.1111/soc4.12734]. Conclusions suggest the experiences of trans faculty impact their well-being, safety, access to resources, and career trajectories. The article advocates context-specific interventions on campus.
These findings are consistent with the poignant autobiographical account of a trans STEM academic, “Local Minima and Maxima in Trans-STEM Affirmations,” a chapter in the 2022 book, Queering STEM Culture in US Higher Education: Navigating Experiences of Exclusion in the Academy. K. Trenshaw succinctly and lucidly describes marginalization, disparagement, and closeting but also support and encouragement from mentors and often unexpected allies. The book is available in the Van Pelt Library collection.
At Michigan Tech, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion has initiated activities to create more hospitable and career-supportive environments for diverse faculty, such as encouraging all campus units to create a DEIS Strategic Plan. [https://www.mtu.edu/diversity/strategic-plan/] In addition, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion offers resources and training that are useful to those committed to allyship and who identify as trans. [https://www.mtu.edu/diversity-center/resources/]
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