It’s been nearly 20 years since I graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and about 14 years since I stopped frequenting town. I still have personal connections to U-C, so my friend sent me word about CUT*ES, a new trans* registered student organization:
…hasn’t stopped Stephanie Skora from advertising and garnering a large amount of support for the new Campus Union for Trans* Equality, or CUT*ES.
Since its inception this semester, CUT*ES has become one of the most popular of all the LGBT* factions.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my UIUC undergrad days in the last year and a half, seeing as that was when I realized and accepted that I was trans. Relatively speaking, those were terrible days as far as transgender support was concerned. In the larger context, the mid-1990s were, as far as I knew, entirely dominated by Standards of Care gatekeeping. The UseNet groups at the time were full of stories and advice of trans folk having to play the game in order to get counsellors and doctors to sign off on hormones and surgeries. There seemed to be no deviation from the singular grand narrative nor from surgery as the all-or-nothing ultimate end. I can’t think too long about it all without getting intensely angry.
On campus, it wasn’t that much better. There was neither real trans support nor visibility. The campus LGb orgs were very much that and even queer acceptance was spotty and shaky. Transgender was just not a word that was ever heard or written anywhere. Fast-forward to the present, Skora speaks of the situation in 2013:
I realized the other LGBT groups on campus, while they’re awesome, didn’t really have a trans* community. I felt the need to create a space for trans* people to meet and discuss our issues and our things because the other organizations can help, but they can’t cater to our population specifically. We have unique needs. That’s why CUT*ES is here: to create a place for trans* people on campus.
After I transitioned in 2012, I began thinking further into the past, oddly enough. I felt the aforementioned anger rising. So I decided on taking a more constructive tack. I vowed that I would do whatever I can to help other trans folk get to whatever point they want and need to be. Equally importantly, I vowed to be a resource to guide people away from and around the gatekeepers. Recalling my time at UIUC, I’ve started getting involved with the Q Center at UW so that no young trans person today is faced with the lack of support that I faced.
I’m happy to see extremely trans-inclusive orgs like the Q Center as well as dedicated trans* orgs, run by students for students, emerging on campuses. Best wishes, CUT*ES!! You make UIUC a much better place.
CUT*ES can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CUT8ES
The Campus Union for Trans* Equality and Support (CUT*ES) is an organization formed in order to provide a unique voice for the trans* community on campus, advocate for trans* equality, discuss trans* issues, and provide a safe space for support and discussion for the campus trans* community.
We welcome anyone who has a passion for trans* equality and advocacy, or is just curious about the community in general.
[Source: UIUC Public Engagement Portal ]
- Trans* community supports the power of choice and finding its meaning (October 21, 2013)
- Trans*parent Talk: An Interview with Stephanie Skora
[Image used with permission of CUT*ES. Thank you, Stephanie!]