Scholarship Related to Transgender Issues to Benefit from First Digital Archive

Scholarship Related to Transgender Issues to Benefit from First Digital Archive

Holy Cross professor launches expansive online hub to advance research

Transgendered student with assistant professor K.J. Rawson in the (DTA) Lab at College of the Holy Cross

[The latest in :literary scholarship” from a Jesuit college: The prof’s specialties are composition, rhetoric, and LGBT studies; he is a member Outfront: A Holy Cross GLBTQ Faculty and Staff Alliance (see its page on the college website) and “married” to a male (Steph), with whom he has a young daughter]

February 11th, 2016 by Cristal Steuer

K.J. Rawson, assistant professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, recently launched the world’s first Digital Transgender Archive (DTA), a collection of transgender-related historical materials. Rawson’s project was recognized in 2013-14 with funding from the American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship, awarded each year to a handful of academics to advance digital humanistic scholarship.

The DTA is designed to increase the accessibility of transgender history by providing an online hub for digitized historical materials, born-digital materials, and information on archival holdings throughout the world.

Today, with both new scholarship emerging in the academy and more focused attention on current topics related to transgender people, the launch of the DTA is timely. Rawson says the DTA provides dramatically improved access to transgender history. “We collect materials from all over the world that were created prior to the year 2000,” explains Rawson. He says the collection includes books, oral histories, personal papers, organizational records, serials, photography, ephemera, and more. The website is freely available for students, academic researchers, and the general public.

By documenting primary source facts and experiences of individuals, the launch of the collection also supports efforts for social justice for transgender people and communities. “As our mission statement successfully captures,” Rawson says, “Holy Cross encourages every member of our community to be passionate about truth, promote social justice and foster dialog in order to more deeply understand and respect diverse experiences. The DTA will further these qualities by counteracting negative and hurtful stereotypes of transgender people with more truthful and historically informed representations.”

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2 comments on “Scholarship Related to Transgender Issues to Benefit from First Digital Archive

  1. Why don’t they just call it what it is – the Numbnut Alliance. To see Holy Cross in such disarray is just sickening but it reflects what is happening in our Church and the world. God help us!

  2. Transgender Support Growing in Catholic Higher Education

    Thursday, February 11th, 2016 – Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

    Boston College students are advancing a trans-inclusive non-discrimination policy for their Jesuit-sponsored school. Below, Bondings 2.0 reports on this news and other LGBT developments, two of which reveal Catholic higher education’s growing commitment to support trans* community members.

    Boston College May Include Trans* Nondiscrimination Protections

    Boston College’s GLBTQ Leadership Council, a segment of student government, has prepared a report about adding gender identity and expression to the College’s non-discrimination policy. BC administrators will decide ultimately whether to insert new language or not, reported campus newspaper The Heights, which noted:

    “Despite this, the proposal still remains a good first step toward its goals and, even if rejected, acts as a symbolic gesture declaring UGBC’s [Undergraduate Government of Boston College] stance when it comes to this issue.”

    Widespread support among college students for more expansive LGBTQ protections will hopefully weigh on administrators’ response. Existing BC policies already include sexual orientation as a protected class. Among Catholic colleges, Georgetown University (GU) has been the first to explicitly protect trans* students, faculty, and staff from discrimination, and the school has made some of the most progressive strides in this regard. The Heights article concluded that Boston College could, along with GU, help set a precedent for Catholic schools on trans* inclusion.

    Georgetown University Hospital Dispute

    A news story from The Georgetown Voice, the campus newspaper of the Washington, DC Jesuit university, highlighted difficulties that trans* students often face in receiving quality healthcare. Willem Miller, a trans junior, waited a week before going to the University’s health services because he felt uncomfortable seeking treatment there. About his hesitation, The Voice reported:

    “This trepidation toward Georgetown’s health care institutions is common among the members of the small population of out transgender and gender nonconforming students. One member of this community, Lexi Dever (COL ‘16), a transgender woman and a Student Assistant for the LGBTQ Center, initially expressed her apprehension about these services in absolute terms “[I have] never [visited]the Student Health Center, I’ve never called GERMS, and I have no intention of those things changing,” she said. Dever, like Miller, attributes this steadfast hesitance to a belief that these institutions are not suited to meet the specific needs of transgender students.”

    These students identified a lack of trans-specific resources or training as reasons why Georgetown University’s health services were inadequate. The article also noted a discrimination complaint against MedStar Georgetown University Hospital filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights by a trans woman, Alexa Rodriguez, who was allegedly denied surgery last year because of her gender identity.

    Systemic issues about inadequate healthcare for trans* communities are widespread, Since Georgetown University has made strong efforts to welcome openly trans* students, hopefully the school will address these healthcare challenges as part of the Jesuit model of caring for the whole person.

    Loyola Marymount Provides Safe Space for LGBT Mormons

    A weekend conference for an organization of LGBT/SSA [Same Sex Attracted] Mormons and families was hosted recently by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Entitled “Knit Together in Unity and Love,” the mid-January gathering aimed to support LGBT-affirming Mormons, provide an inclusive community, and encourage participants to “make valuable contributions” both inside and out of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

    Catholics and Mormons can celebrate that this collaboration not only advances LGBT equality, but ecumenical relations too.

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