JamieAnn Meyers came out as a transgender woman before an entire lecture class she taught as a geoscience professor at Winona State University.
She had been making a gender transition during the past several years and had already come out to much of the Winona State faculty. But as of fall 2009, her name hadn’t been legally changed. So she had to explain to her students — who had signed up for a class with James Meyers — why JamieAnn stood before them.
She was moved when she got feedback from her students at the end of the year.
“Seeing you go through this lets us know we can do anything,” she recalled them writing her.
“It was one of the most important and fulfilling things that happened in my years of teaching,” she said.
Recreating that feeling of support is the plan for the 15th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, held today and Wednesday in Winona.
The day is primarily meant to memorialize those in the trans and gender non-conforming community who have been killed. In 2012, there were 267 reported killings, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, and many additional murders are thought to have gone unreported.
Activities will begin with a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. today in Kryzsko Commons. A workshop focusing on using ally privilege will be held at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The workshop will be followed by a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. in Windom Park.
Meyers said she’s optimistic about progress made toward acceptance of the trans and gender non-conforming community.
“For me, it means an opportunity to stand together and say how much our lives matter and that we aren’t disposable,” Meyers said.