UVic announces Chair in Transgender Studies

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University Librarian Jonathan Bengtson introduces the speakers in attendance at Special Collections (Left to right: Jamie Cassels, Catherine Krull, Aaron Devor. Not pictured: Randall Garrison, Alyx MacAdams). Photo by Myles Sauer

University Librarian Jonathan Bengtson introduces the speakers in attendance at Special Collections (Left to right: Jamie Cassels, Catherine Krull, Aaron Devor. Not pictured: Randall Garrison, Alyx MacAdams). Photo by Myles Sauer

UVic announced the establishment of a new Chair in Transgender Studies on Friday, Jan. 15. Dr. Aaron Devor will be installed as the inaugural chair in UVic’s Faculty of Social Sciences for five years, thanks in part to a donation of $1 million USD from the Tawani Foundation.

The announcement was made in the Special Collections room of the McPherson Library, where the university houses its Transgender Archives — a collection of more than a century’s worth of research and “over 50 years of activism,” according to a UVic media release.

“One in every two hundred people is transgender,” Devor said at the event. “And despite seeing glamorous trans celebrities in the media these days, the reality is that for far too many transgender and non-conformant people, they still live their lives in poverty and fear.”

Devor pointed to a need for “good, solid research” to “change hearts and minds,” to provide a foundation for proper legislative policy relating to transgender and non-conformant people, and to foster the “creation and transfer of reliable knowledge.”

“As the Chair in Transgender Studies,” Devor said, “I will work locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally for the improvement of healthcare and health supports for transgender and non-conforming youth, adults, and their families.”

Other speakers in attendance included Jamie Cassels, UVic President; Catherine Krull, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences; Randall Garrison, MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke; and Alyx MacAdams, a UVic Master of Social Work student.

Garrison called the new Chair a “world-leading step” for UVic, and praised the university for taking such a step.

“This new Chair sets UVic apart, and it aligns with our mission and our values,” said Cassels. “In addition to the intrinsic and social value of the new knowledge that is generated by the research in this field, it also signals our commitment as a university to inclusion and social justice.”

The Martlet will have more on the new Chair and its implications for the UVic community in a future issue. 

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