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We — trans Princetonians — aren’t going anywhere.
We write this letter during Transgender Joy Week, which spans November 13 to 19 and precedes the Transgender Day of Remembrance, next Monday, November 20. Transgender Day of Remembrance, which began in 1999 as a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a Black trans woman killed in Boston in 1998, honors all those lost to anti-trans violence. That day, each fall, trans Princetonians come together to mourn our trans siblings who lost their lives in the past year. This week, however, we seek to uplift trans and nonbinary people in our community through celebration, education, and advocacy.
The past year has been a particularly challenging one for trans people in Princeton and in the many other states and countries that our community members call home. In 2023, anti-trans activists and provocateurs have engaged in cruel attacks on trans people for their own political gain. This includes those coming to Princeton within a week of our solemn memorial, with the goal of provoking a student backlash. Contrary to evidence-based medical standards of care, legislators in a number of U.S. states have passed or promoted laws preventing both trans minors and adults from controlling their own bodies. In the week leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance, we want to take a stand for and celebrate trans joy. Trans people have contributed so much to Princeton, and deserve to be recognized as the valuable community members they are.
The strength of our community in the face of anti-trans hate shows that, despite this hostile environment, we are here to stay. As seen in Princeton’s LGBTQIA Oral History project and in The Daily Princetonian’s interviews with trans alumni from 1960 to 2000, trans people are not new to Princeton’s campus. We just finally have the power to speak up.
In Princeton’s Department of Psychology, the Human Diversity Lab is working on the TransYouth Project, the first “large-scale, national, longitudinal study of socially-transitioned transgender children to date.”
Princeton alumni have also worked in the service of wider communities. For example, in 2019, artist and organizer Asanni Armon ’17, who was involved with Princeton’s Black Justice League while in college, founded For the Gworls — a rent party which has grown into a mutual aid platform for Black trans people in New York.
On an institutional level, the University is taking steps to recognize trans people’s accomplishments. Last spring, the University awarded an honorary doctorate to Lynn Conway, professor emerita of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan and a pioneering computer architect and transgender activist.
The progress made by trans people at Princeton parallels that of trans people at national and state levels. The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender Law Center have been working tirelessly to protect the rights of transgender Americans against a wave of anti-trans laws. In the town of Princeton, HiTOPS and the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice have worked to create opportunities for education and community building. The Princeton Pride Alliance is committed to building bridges between Princeton and these organizations.
As members of the Princeton community, trans safety, joy, and excellence are an important part of our lives. We want Princeton to be a place that shares these values.
This week, Princeton’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) is organizing programs to celebrate trans love, joy, and power. We, Princeton’s trans undergraduate and graduate students, are also organizing a celebration of trans joy at the GSRC this Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., with good food, activities, and karaoke for all who would like to attend.
We are your classmates, friends, preceptors, teachers, and colleagues. We have always been here and are committed to trans futures at Princeton. Come stand with us.
This opinion piece was written by members of The Pride Alliance. The Pride Alliance is an undergraduate student group focused on advocacy and community-building for LGBTQ+ folks at Princeton and beyond. Follow us on Instagram @prideprinceton. Questions about this piece can be directed to Kat Brinkman at email@example.com.