Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trans Scholars

I just wanted to congratulate genderwarrior & trans activist Joelle Ruby Ryan for having won a scholarship from the Point Foundation. She was one of four trans people to win one this year.

The Point Foundation gives scholarships to LGBT students - 38 this year, all told.

Four of this year’s scholars identify as trans:

Daan Erikson, from Providence, RI, originally from Bridgewater, MA, is majoring in both Entertainment Media and Gender & Sexuality Studies at New York University in New York, NY. While he came out as a lesbian in high school, he came to understand and identify himself as a transguy and as transmasculine during his first year at New York University. A strong work ethic and support from his dedicated dad has allowed Daan to confidently transition without compromising his studies. Daan’s high level of self-comfort and openness about being trans has contributed to his work on campus: he served as a Peer Educator in Residence at a first-year residence hall this past year, and he will be a Resident Assistant next year. Through his studies at NYU, Daan plans to improve realistic representations of queer people in the entertainment media world.

Joelle Ruby Ryan
is working on her Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University, and is Point’s very first male-to-female transgender Point Scholar. Born into a working-class family in New Hampshire, Joelle received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy for high school. While a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, she came out as a transgender woman and suffered familial disapproval, employment discrimination and frequent verbal assaults and physical threats. Joelle is currently working on her Ph.D. in American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University. A self-identified transgender warrior, Joelle plans to dedicate her future to teaching, engaged scholarship, and grass-roots activism.

Zak Sinclair
was raised in Houston. In a starkly gender-divided Southern culture, Zak was forced to conform to a highly feminine gender role and to push his transgender identity and sexuality deep into the closet. Despite his family’s financial instability, Zak attended Brown University on scholarship and excelled academically. Losing his father at 19, Zak came out as transgender to his mother and was cut-off from her until she died suddenly two years later. Inspired to action, Zak spoke out about transgender youth issues, taking visible national leadership at a time when these issues were largely unknown and misunderstood even within the LGBT community. Zak is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Psychotherapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies and plans to address the impact of trauma in the activist community. He will work with LGBT leaders in the broader context of their organizational and social change work, as well as providing much-needed services to LGBT youth, especially transgender youth.

Emily Williams
, from Minneapolis, MN, is pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing at Yale University School of Nursing in New Haven, CT. As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and after graduation, Emily spent five years as a volunteer rape victim advocate and also worked full-time as a direct service provider for families dealing with domestic and sexual violence. Through these experiences, she developed an understanding of the close connection between homophobia and violence against women: both are the direct result of our damaging binary gender system. As a genderqueer individual, Emily is constantly forced to choose between condoning ignorant assumptions and taking on the personal risk of challenging them. Emily is committed to changing constrictive attitudes toward gender - including those held inside the LGBT community. Emily’s goals are not only to practice sensitive and empowering health care for all people with limited access to care, but also to explore a better clinical paradigm that does not rely on destructive gender roles.

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