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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Continuing the fight for transgender inclusion and visibility at GW

Devon Fitzgerald, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

The battle for transgender visibility and inclusion has been a difficult one – especially when it comes to representation in the media. But there has been some progress.

A 14-year-old transgender girl named Jazz Jennings is the new face of Clean & Clear’s “See the Real Me” campaign. As one of the most prominent examples of a transgender person representing a company, she’s received a lot of attention on the Internet. Her campaign has been covered by CNN, the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, and she will also star in her own reality show that premieres this summer.

It’s exciting that we’re moving toward seeing transgender visibility in the media, and I’m encouraged that so many media outlets are interested in Jennings.

While there’s a possibility this was nothing but a publicity stunt for Johnson & Johnson – the parent company of Clean & Clear – it’s still good news that a transgender teen is at the center of a national ad campaign. Hopefully, someday, my children won’t understand why this was a such big deal because transgender individuals will be comfortable and feel fully accepted.

As students, we can’t control what happens in the media. But we do have some say over LGBT rights and representation at GW. Thankfully, those issues are important on our campus. But advocates for transgender rights shouldn’t slow down: Instead, they should start looking to other schools for innovative ideas we can put in place at GW.

Last month, our campus hosted renowned transgender rights activist Laverne Cox. The Student Association recently approved four bills expanding resources for transgender students. And this week is Gender Inclusive Bathroom Week – an effort to educate students about gender inclusion through initiatives like Toilet Trainers and a Square 80 “Shit In.”

It’s encouraging to see these initiatives happening on campus. When it comes to gender and sexuality, it’s critical that as a forward-thinking school, we make sure everyone on our campus feels included and has equal opportunities.

That’s why we can’t stop now. There’s still more we can do to advocate for LGBT students in our community. Even though GW is a liberal campus that aims to be inclusive, other schools are being more creative in their support of transgender rights.

For example, Emory University, one of GW’s peer schools, has a database of faculty, staff, alumni and students who are out. Not only does this provide LGBT individuals with the opportunity to connect with one another, but it also increases their visibility on campus and by extension, normalizes the LGBT community at Emory.

Another peer, New York University, hosts its own Transgender Awareness Week. GW should try something like this to show that transgender issues are important to everyone in our community. The NYU LGBTQ Student Center also offers to host workshops or training sessions to student organizations that request them.

We have no control over what happens in the media, but we can make our own change here at GW by strengthening current policies, putting new and innovative programs in place, and overall making sure our University is a place where minority groups aren’t exploited or disadvantaged.

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