Wilkes University hosted a flag raising ceremony honoring the International Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday, March 31.
The event, organized by the student-led Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), featured remarks from Greg Cant, president of Wilkes University, and Helen H. Davis, associate professor of English and GSA advisor, as well as students Morgan Steiner, Aster Rowland and Taylor Mattei.
GSA engages in ongoing education about gender and sexuality, provides support and resources, fosters an equitable campus environment and hosts fun, engaging events for people of all gender and sexual orientations, inclusive of their intersecting identities.
At the flag raising, Steiner, president of GSA, encouraged those in attendance to support trans family, friends, artists and business owners. Mattei cautioned against buying in to harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. Rowland, with a humorous spin on her own identity experience concluded, “It’s a good thing that support is free. Compassion is free. Love is free.”
Speaking on behalf of the Wilkes community, President Cant emphasized the importance of inclusive values since the University opened its doors in 1933. “From our very founding, the sense of opening and welcoming to everyone is who Wilkes has been, and over that now 90 years, our understanding of everyone has expanded.” He also expressed a continued commitment to diversity. “We will hold on to the absolute truth that Wilkes will stand with who you are. However you define yourself is how you’re welcomed and will be supported.”
Davis offered thanks to GSA officers and others on campus who helped organize the event. She also offered examples of trans leaders in the struggle for LGBT rights and recognized trans innovators in science, medicine and the arts.
The ceremony wrapped with the flag raising by GSA officer Claire Wynne. The transgender flag contains five horizontal stripes in the colors of blue, pink and white. It was designed by Monica Helms, an American transgender woman, in 1999, and serves as a symbol of acceptance for the community.
International Transgender Day of Visibility is dedicated to celebrating the lives, contributions and accomplishments of transgender and gender-nonconforming people while raising awareness of the work that still needs to be done to achieve transgender justice.