The Dragon Rainbow Center promotes transgender awareness in preparation for incoming transgender students.
The Rainbow Room in CMU 121 serves as a resource and community for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, as well as straight allies. Next year, up to six new transgender students will be attending MSUM. In response, the center has compiled an information packet about the campus and local community for the new transgender students.
“We want to approach this from the angle of absolute inclusiveness,” said Rachael Rahrich, who is in charge of Rainbow Room promotion and event planning.
“We’re preparing pamphlets with recourses and specific information for transgender students,” she said. These special considerations underline some of the intrinsic complexities transgender persons deal with.
“Transgender and transsexual are umbrella terms,” said Jonah Noyes, an MSUM transgender student.
Many individuals immediately associate the word transgender with sex reassignment, when more accurately it is a general term applied to the variety of individuals and behaviors that differ from the conventional gender roles. Noyes, an anthropology junior, has decided to undergo hormone treatments.
There are many things to consider about the early stages of transition. Namely, the matter of bathrooms. Gender neutral bathrooms, such as single-room, handicapped facilities are friendly to transgender individuals, because they eliminate the fear of being identified as a transgender.
“I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable,” Noyes said.
This issue is one example of a consideration included in the packets for new transgender students; the Dragon Rainbow Center is preparing small maps which contain the location of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
“The community is so broad and right now the word transgender covers so many experiences,” said film professor Raymond Rea.
Rea has lived as a transgender male for many years, since age 37.
“I’m considered old school and my experience is different than many people under the trans umbrella,” he said. His transformation began at a time when transgender resources were harder to come by.
“There weren’t groups formed like (the Dragon Rainbow Room),” he said, “I think it’s great that they have this.” Rea was quick to point out the success of this relatively new campus program and community. He attributed its accomplishments to two things. He first pointed out that the community is composed mainly of freshmen.
Secondly, Rea highlighted the impressive coalition that is guiding the smooth function of the program.
Noyes said he is also appreciative of the resources MSUM offers GLBT students.
“We are a pretty open campus. People want to ask questions and get a better understanding,” Noyes said. He made it clear that he felt part of a tolerant and accepting university and was very proud that student organizations like the Gay Straight Alliance and the Dragon Rainbow Center are trying to make a difference.
As Rea said: “Now because the doors are widened, students can stand in that doorway and ask themselves: Where do I fit in this?”
BY CHARLES K. DEYOUNG