February 23, 2007

Working for Transgender Equality at the University of Florida

This from the University of Florida's student newspaper, The Independent Florida Aligator:

Fear of insults or attacks convinced Ivana Black to hide her transgender identity when she enrolled at UF in 2004. Black had faced discrimination before and did not want to be targeted again, she said. She used her long hair and convincing curves to pass as a woman. But when she noticed that other transgender students were reluctant to embrace or reveal their own identities, she felt compelled to come out.

"In order for me to feel comfortable and for other people to be comfortable, I had to be visible (as a transgender)," she said.

During her stay at UF, Black worked toward making UF a more welcoming place for transgender students by educating people about transgender issues and culture. By the time Black graduated, she had made UF a home, but it still had a long way to go. The Student Body constitution, for example, didn't have a protection for transgender students.

But that could change if students approve a referendum during Student Government elections, which will be held Tuesday and Wednesday.

If the referendum is approved, the Student Body constitution's nondiscrimination clause will be amended to include the terms "gender identity and expression."

Click here to read more about Ivana Black and her campaign for equality.

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