Members from a wide range of campus organizations gathered in the Butler Board Room on Oct. 20 to hear Sarah McBride, former Student Government president and current transgender advocate, share her experiences in advocacy at an event entitled “Making a Difference on Campus and Beyond.”
With the co-sponsorship of eight other campus organizations, the SPA Leadership Program showcased McBride, a young activist, to encourage collaboration between campus groups with common goals.
McBride came out as transgender on Facebook on the last day of her SG term in the spring of 2012. She later submitted an op-ed to The Eagle expanding on her post. She has since become an advocate for transgender equality at the Center for American Progress, where she advocates for the passage of the Equality Act on a federal level as the Campaigns and Communications Manager of its LGBT Research and Communications Project. McBride began her advocacy work while she was still a student at AU.
“The advocacy work at AU and as SG president gave me the insight and the confidence to come out,” McBride said. “It was an incredible experience to have the love and support of so many on this campus and for me that gave me the confidence to move forward. I thought, ‘If we could do the little that we did to make AU a better place, let’s replicate that on a larger scale.’”
Sophomores Isaiah Beaton and Gregory Pratt, the outreach coordinators for the SPA Leadership Program, began planning the event over the summer with the goal of encouraging collaboration between campus groups advocating for intersecting causes.
“We saw that on campus we often have organizations that touch on similar issues but don’t necessarily work together,” Beaton said. “All these issues intersect. We wanted to have a conversation about that intersection and get a dialogue started that working together is something we should consider.”
In keeping with the evening’s theme of overlapping causes, McBride headlined the event with a conversation about the intersection of transgender issues and other “seemingly unrelated” causes.
“I think that someday we will live in a world where transgender people will be viewed as the multidimensional people that we are,” McBride said. “Trans issues are also environmental issues, they’re also healthcare issues, they’re also national security issues. I think that is only going to continue.”