The 4th Annual W.M. Trotter Lecture was an event for the ages. Initially booked for the Michigan League, the event was forced to move to Rackham Auditorium due to high levels of interest. The theme of this year’s lecture was “My Life. My Story. Centering the Voices of Trans Lives.”
The event was kicked off beautifully with 4 different student speakers.
D, an undergrad in the Stamps School of Art & Design, delivered a beautiful poem, centered around the color blue, to describe their life as a gender fluid, transnational person.
Vidhya, a current graduate student in the School of Information, talked about how her support systems of friends and family have helped her move through the gender transition process. She told the crowd that we must all “practice patience and love for one another” in order to uplift ourselves and our communities.
Max, who recently received their Masters of Social Work from U-M, discussed the important role their gender identity has played in their life. They praised the Neutral Zone, a local youth-driven teen center that has provided the type of safe, welcoming space they were looking for.
Leo, a recent Sociology graduate from U-M, reflected on his various privileges while also discussing the struggles of being a Chinese, trans man. Leo ended by stating that “my personal sense of masculinity and femininity will continue to evolve. My gender and race will always be inseparable and deserve to celebrated.”
Following the student speakers were the three keynote speakers. Ann Arbor native Brian Michael Smith, a transgender actor known for his roles on Queen Sugar, Chicago P.D., and Girls, told his story as a reminder to the crowd that “you can not let other people’s fears stop you from doing what you can or want to do.”
Amiyah Scott, a cast member of Fox Network’s STAR, emphasized the importance of self love: “You have to love you. You have to believe in yourself and take a chance.” Scott, the first Trans series-regular on network television, told the crowd, “your dreams can come true, because mine did.”
Author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty, Janet Mock explained the importance of “removing structural inequities” and combating injustice at every turn. Janet exclaimed that trans and non-binary storytelling is a “revolutionary act” in and of itself. She reminded the crowd that “trans people are exactly who they say they are.”
This beautiful and historical event served as a celebration of “the voices of transgender and non-binary individuals” who are too often overlooked and invisibilized in our society. Check out the Trotter Multicultural Center website for information about more upcoming events.