Last Saturday, the University of Vermont hosted its Third Annual Translating Identities conference, a one-day academic exploration of gender identity that concluded with an address by renowned transgender activist and author Leslie Feinberg. Dorothea Brauer, director of UVM's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Ally Services, said nearly 500 attendees came from all over New England; presenters came from as far as New Zealand.
Curiously absent were members of UVM's Board of Trustees Diversity Committee -- including committee chair Tom Little, a former Republican state senator who made waves for supporting civil unions way back when. Brauer and the members of the school's GLBTQA student group have beseeched the committee to add gender identity to UVM's non-discrimination policy. The Committee has so far refused, though the Burlington School District has adopted such language.
Brauer said the trustees promised to educate themselves about trans issues, and points out that the TI Conference was a missed opportunity. She admitted she was "disappointed" by their absence. "It's not like folks didn't have enough information to know what was going on," she said. "I would hope that... they would take the time to learn about it."