It’s 2019. Although there are still hardships and relentless bullying in the LGBTQ community, America seems to slowly be accepting transgender individuals.
Kayden Maclay is a senior at Kent State University. He’s the typical college student: He goes to class, works a part-time job, is involved in different organizations on campus and loves to hang out with his friends.
But what makes Maclay unique is his personal journey to becoming who he is today.
Maclay is a transgender man. He decided to transition at the start of his higher education career. And ever since he came to campus, he’s been known as Kayden.
“So other than that first two to three hours I was moving in I’ve been Kayden Carson on this campus,” Macklay said.
He also said he is on the luckier side of being a transgender man.
“I consider myself very lucky,” he said. “I wasn’t disowned. My parents didn’t kick me out. I didn’t lose any friends or family because of coming out. So I definitely consider myself in the one percent of the community.”
But not every trans person has it as easy. Katie Mattise is the assistant director at Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. They said transgender individuals struggle more than most.
“There's a myriad of challenges or issues that come with being trans and having a type of transition, so one of the biggest things is kind of coming out to yourself,” they said.
Kent State is nationally recognized for its work in the LGBTQ community, but that doesn’t mean more couldn’t be done.
“I think as we look across campus and we look at restrooms, we actually just got a policy on the books saying that you are allowed to use whatever restroom you identify with and feel comfortable with,” Mattise said.
It’s fair to say America has come a long way from where it was in terms of supporting the LGBTQ community. Both Maclay and Mattise said the best way for others outside the community to support anyone who identifies as LGBTQ is to get involved and be an ally.
“The good news is that you don’t need to know everything,” Mattise said. “I work in the LGBTQ+ Center. I’m learning everyday. The internet exists. You can Google it. You can do some quick searches if someone says something you don’t understand.”
For more information on how to get involved with the LGBTQ community on campus visit: https://www.kent.edu/lgbtq.
Clay O’Neal is a Kent State journalism student. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.