Kathryn Macias, 21, Georgia
I am Kathryn, a ciswoman passionate about gender justice. My passion for gender justice was realized when I went off to college and was able to discover a queer community and became friends with trans and gender non-confirming people. As my relationships with these new friends grew I was privileged to hear stories of what it is like to be agender, gender-queer, and transgender. As a friend, I was able to support them in some of the most difficult and joyous times of their lives. I saw friends swing into depression over the way their chest looked or the depth of their voice, but I also shared the joys of T parties and first dress purchases.
I wanted to share just one story with you:
I recall vividly the day when I was at a Lamdba meeting, the organization for queer and ally students at the University of Georgia, when Kenny* came in and proclaimed that a stranger had called him “buddy”. We all shared in his joy. His gender identity had been publicly validated and accepted and for once he was free of social dsyphoria. It was a big deal and we all knew it, because we all knew the struggle he and so many others faced daily to have people see them the way they see themselves, and this was success!
This story is one of many, yet sadly, it is one of few happy stories. I being privileged to support and share experiences with my friends my eyes opened to injustice and things that are flatly not okay so I’ve decided to do something. I wanted to be more than a supportive friend. I now advocate for my friends and those who face the same oppression. In the past few years of college I have had countless talks with administration about how to get gender neutral bathrooms and use of preferred names throughout campus. I’ve organized a large group of students to map gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, and just this year I worked for get two resolutions through our Student Government Association. One resolution was to add “gender identity and expression” to our UGA’s Non-Discrimination Anti-Harassment Policy the second was a three-fold resolution to get all single-stalled bathrooms made gender neutral, have all new construction include gender neutral bathroom, and have gender neutral bathroom considered with major renovations. As a senior, I have ensured that this work will continue once I leave the university in creating an advocacy position within Lambda and working with a freshman to provide her the skills and support to continually advocate for queer students on campus.
Attending Creating Change this year is about finding empowerment to continue to social justice work as I graduate and move into the workforce, empowering others to do work in their area, and sharing in a supportive environment with people who are passionate about making the world a better place for queer individuals. I look forward to a Creating Change that inspires and tools me to devote my life to work that is truly meaningful. I owe this opportunity to YouthLink. Thank you.