Marisa Richmond encourages transgenders to be who they truly are and to do what they want in society.
Richmond, president of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, spoke to a group of faculty and students Tuesday.
Richmond made a few opening remarks then opened the floor for questions.
“The first label someone is given is gender-based,” said Richmond. “The first question asked is, ‘is it a boy or a girl?’”
Some of the questions brought up were about family issues, medical issues, being a counselor for the transgender community and transgender prisoner rights.
While visiting Murray State, Richmond also spoke to several classes. She said she spoke with students who were in classes on the satellite campuses via speaker phone.
“It was good to be able to reach people across the region,” Richmond said. “There was a lot of interaction with the students.”
Richmond met a number of administrators while on campus, in addition to a class visit and afternoon program.
“The discussions throughout the day went very well,” Jody Cofer, adviser to Alliance and co-chair of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, said. “I think it was extremely helpful for students looking to go into the social work profession who are going to be confronted on a daily basis with the hardships of a wide variety of people, including transgender individuals.”
Cofer said the topics discussed can be challenging.
“Dr. Richmond’s prepared remarks were right on,” Cofer said. “But the beauty as I see it was in the back-and-forth during Q-and-A.”
He said Richmond navigated the Q-and-A wonderfully and sparked a learned discussion.
Richmond, who is also a history professor at Middle Tennessee State University, said she has been all over the country speaking to universities about transgender awareness.
“I’ve talked about the transgender community and the issues we are dealing with on the national level,” Richmond said. “I’ve spoken on issues such as healthcare, personal safety, job discrimination and having a transgender family member.”
She said for the short term she wants people to be educated and in the long run she hopes for equality.
“Transgender is such an umbrella term,” Richmond said. “There are more than two gender identities now, and people need to be aware of that. The terminology for everyone does not exist.”
Richmond said the best thing to do is to talk to anyone and everyone.
“People are starting to realize that there are more transgender people out there,” Richmond said. “In general I feel that it is a part of the education process to be exposed to transgender people.”