Student Finds Community—and Himself—at Chico State
By Kory Masen, Junior, Sociology and Women’s Studies
I have experienced Chico State from the point of view of several identities, all of which come together to form the person I am. I came to this campus as a Mexican, first-generation, low-income, pansexual, freshwoman; since then, some of my identities have changed and evolved as I continued to educate myself, and I now identify as a feminist, queer, transgender man.
Most of my education on feminism and activism came from the many experiences and opportunities offered to me through my internships with the AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center (GSEC). There I found my identity as a transgender man and a feminist; I will forever be indebted and grateful to this amazing organization for changing my life for the better. It offered a safe space and community for me to learn and grow, and in a short amount of time, the people there became the family and support system I was lacking in my personal life.
As a sociology and women’s studies double major, I find myself surrounded by like-minded people in the classroom—the same is true for the clubs and organizations I am a member of. As a transgender queer person of color on this campus, I can confidently say I have found a community. But, in regards to my relationship with the campus at large outside of those communities, I can’t say I feel the same safety and support. I have experienced discrimination at various levels that are clearly based around ignorance and lack of education.
I have brought several of the issues I’ve faced on campus to the administration, and I’ve been amazed at the response in a very positive way. At Chico State, we pride ourselves on the value of diversity, and the administration is willing to take action to uphold that value. And organizations such as GSEC and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion bring diverse events to campus, educating the community about issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.
I was fortunate to be a part of the Queer People of Color Society (QPOCS!) panel that allowed a space for our experiences to be heard and seen as people of color within the queer community. We have ties to mend within the queer community itself, but an even greater challenge in creating bonds with the campus and local community. I recently attended the GSEC’s sixth annual LGBTQ+ Conference, and it was a great example of the work GSEC does to advocate for the queer community. There were speakers from San Francisco talking about how we construct gender in our society and how gender was imposed on us as children. Also, local leaders from our Chico State queer community took us on a journey that spoke to the experience of being tokenized and “othered” as an LGBTQ+ person.
All in all, this is what our campus needs more of. If there is anything I would ask for from any institution, it is education. Respect, validation, and safety all derive from educating our communities. I am proud to say I am an activist and advocate in this institution that is trying to service the marginalized communities that form my identity.
Nobody is perfect, especially within a college setting, but we can try our best to educate as many people as we can in order to create socially responsible and respectable individuals. After all, that is what being a Wildcat is all about.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson