LGBTQ Resources Office Prepares for Director Rotation
Ling Gao, collaborating photographer
Maria Trumpler GRD ’92, founding director of the LGBTQ Resource Office, will retire on December 1 and hand over the post to Yale newcomer Samuel Byrd.
Trumpler has led the Office since it opened in 2005 and will officially leave on January 1, 2022, after a month spent smoothing the transition. Also a professor of women, gender and sexuality studies, Trumpler plans to continue teaching for another year before retiring from Yale altogether.
Byrd, who uses all pronouns, has previously worked in LGBTQ campus life at North Carolina State University, University of California, Berkeley, and California Polytechnic State University. Byrd plans to prioritize intersectionality and partnerships with other campus organizations early in their tenure.
âAt the forefront of my mind, I develop ways to continue to support mental health and wellness by promoting queer joy, centering the most marginalized members of our community in our work and advocacy, and serving as strategic partner for intersectional justice by building key partnerships with other cultural centers and social justice organizations on and off campus, âsaid Byrd.
The turnover comes the day after a tumultuous year for the office. Associate Director Andrew Dowe ’08, GRD ’20 passed away suddenly in February 2021, and later that month two community events hosted by the office – one held to honor Dowe and the other to elevate the storytelling of the black transgender – were the subject of a hateful zoom bombardment. “Attacks.
Trumpler explained that she and Dowe had worked together to develop the Office for 10 years and that his hope was for him to take on the post of director after his retirement.
After Dowe’s death, Trumpler decided to retire from the search for a new director.
âIt took all I had to try to support and hold our community together in our common loss,â Trumpler said. “I kind of said, ‘Someone else has to take care of this. It’s in great condition, but someone else needs to bring their energy, enthusiasm and ideas to this project. ‘ I was just a little exhausted and sad.
According to Elizabeth Conklin, the University’s associate vice president for institutional equity, access and belonging, a committee of seven faculty members began the process of hiring a new director earlier this month. of June.
Conklin added that throughout the research process, those involved hoped to find someone who would serve as a leader in “community building, advocacy, outreach and education.”
âIt was especially important for our next director to have in-depth knowledge and a commitment to supporting and advocating for the LGBTQ + community,â Conklin wrote in an email to News. âThey also had to demonstrate their experience and ability to collaborate effectively with a wide range of campus stakeholders. “
Conklin, who described Byrd as an âexperienced, thoughtful and very committed leader,â said they were well equipped to begin leading the Office.
Byrd, originally from North Carolina, has worked for the past 12 years as a Gender and Sexuality Educator, Consultant and National Board Certified Counselor. During this time, they also served as an interfaith chaplain, public school teacher, activist and lecturer and university advisor.
âI got involved in this area by learning to navigate rural Appalachian communities with few resources, still feeling like a person who lives in marginal spaces of identities that don’t always fit together perfectly,â said Byrd. âIn college, I found myself drawn to people from underrepresented communities and liberation work, discovering my calling for this field and the many queer and trans mentors who have guided me on this journey. So now, whether it’s in the halls of Vatican City, moral marches in state capitals, lobbying congresses, or in the classroom, I am advocating for social transformation and a radical love ethic.
Byrd also stressed the importance of intersectionality for their work, adding that developing âmulticultural humilityâ is essential to expand equity and inclusion.
In the long term, Byrd said they hope to increase queer leadership and visibility on campus, conduct a benchmark assessment to align the Office with other peer institutions, and connect the Office to a larger network of LGBTQ resources via the Consortium of LGBTQ Resource Professionals in Higher Education and Centerlink: The community of LGBTQ centers.
According to Conklin, Trumpler will work with Byrd during her first few weeks on campus, remaining available as a resource and mentor as she leaves the office next year.
Trumpler said she was âreally proudâ of the work she did to make the Office a community resource during her tenure as director.
âWe went from zero to something really cool,â Trumpler said. “There was literally nothing – not a person, not a space, not a bunch of money, nothing.”
Since then, said Trumpler, the Office has become a âbeautifulâ space and a place to bring together staff, faculty, students and alumni.
Byrd echoed Trumpler’s sentiment, emphasizing the importance of campus spaces dedicated to LGBTQ life.
âQueer spaces grew out of a need for safer hangouts for LGBTQ people to come together, organize and socialize without fear of abuse, ridicule or violence,â Byrd said. “It’s a place to learn about queer history and underrepresented identities, which are often not taught in our home communities, and a place to together resist messages from mainstream culture that aim to erase , silence or push back lives and contributions. of our people.
The LGBTQ Resource Office is located at 135 Prospect Street.