Last weekend, the Rider Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) attended the Northeast Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Conference at Binghamton University in New York. Our weekend was filled with a lot of exciting activities including a drag show, keynote speakers about LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex) people seeking asylum from discrimination, beatings and harassment, as well as how to help those both in and outside our community learn about it. We are now more capable of teaching the university about issues that many are very uneducated about — particularly transgendered issues and the appearance of LGBTI persons in the media.
Transgendered and intersex individuals face an uphill battle in gaining recognition of rights in much of the United States and are being welcomed into our community as a movement toward an equal future advances. Transgendered persons are born with a gender identity that does not match his or her physical sex (gender is mental identity, and sex is the physical condition). Intersex is the umbrella term for when a person’s sexual anatomy doesn’t fit the definitions of male or female.
Individuals in the LGBTI community are still seeking to find acceptance in much of American society and places across our country, including in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In New Jersey, a bill for equal marriage was voted down in January in the state Senate and Gov. Chris Christie has promised to veto it in the future. According to Ted Martin of Equality Pennsylvania, it is still legal to fire or discriminate against an employee for being LGBTI in Pennsylvania.
At Rider, there are many resources for you if you have any questions about these issues or wish to discuss them with people. The GSA meets every Monday night at 10 in the Fireside Lounge of the BLC. Also, the Counseling Center is always open to any student who has questions about sexuality and sexual identity topics. Just remember, no one is alone in their struggles for identity and you need to support those in your life who may need it in their search for self.
– Chris Shepherd
Class of 2011