Being Transgender at Whitman College, from a class of 19’ alumna

I’ve seen a fair amount of posts regarding being transgender so I wanted to share my experiences, as well as be available for questions, as a transwoman who attended Whitman College in Walla Walla WA, a small liberal arts school, and graduated in 2019. I was a history/art history double major who worked on campus and off, was involved in Greek Life, various clubs including tabletop games, and was involved in activism work.

First Year: I wasn’t initially planning to come out. I kinda just existed for a bit. However I quickly found a group of queer folk who I felt comfortable with, along with a mentor named Kyle Martz, a joy of a human being (careful looking him up though, it’s a very sad story). I felt so comfortable in fact that I came out second semester, and was quickly welcomed by everyone, with folks switching to my preferred name instantly. In addition my roommate was super chill and we remain friends. Fell in love with art history and planned to double major in it and history.

Second Year: I began working at the Reid information desk as well as the Sheehan gallery. Reid was great because of the interactions I constantly had with folks. Sheehan still impacts my career today. I was involved in install and deinstall, as well as guarding. My two bosses were simply incredible.

Junior year: I was given the opportunity to curate two exhibitions. One, funded by the Whitman internship fund, had me working with the community to create a permanent Adam West exhibition, still on display at the Kirkman House. The second, funded by an award called the David Nord award which gives money to queer projects, was about queer perspectives and I was greatly assisted by my absolutely fabulous bosses from the Sheehan gallery. Both of these contributed to my eventual graduate school admissions. Outside of that, the large number of queer events and parties, with professors even attending the events, made it feel like a wonderful place to be

Senior year: I had been wanting to join a sorority for years but A. Wanted to save up the funds myself, and B, the less admitted reason, was my own nervousness at joining, even though I was friends with basically all of them. I was able to join, with much fanfare from alumna and current members, and it was truely a gift. I was never judged for being trans, and was welcomed into the space with open arms. Academic wise orals and written were definitely tough, and because I’m who I am I decided to throw in an optional thesis in there. I did pass all, and the support given was incredible.

Post: I did an Americorps year before starting grad school. The lessons, mentors and friends I made are still firmly with me today. For me, Whitman was a great place to be, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to be so involved. Feel free to ask any questions!

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Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on your achievements!

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