LGBTQ+ Eastern students share their experiences


Lucy Ade, a junior interpersonal communications major, poses for a picture Saturday afternoon in Buzzard Hall.

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Campus Reporter

Over the years, Eastern has had a growing LGBTQ+ community, with more and more students feeling comfortable being open about their identities. With the increase in openly LGBTQ+ students came a need for resources, spaces and events for the LGBTQ+ community.  

These LGBTQ+ resources, spaces and events have become a big part of Eastern, helping LGBTQ+ students feel more welcomed on campus.  

One such student is Lucy Ade, a junior interpersonal communication student, who said she has had a good experience being an openly trans woman on campus. 

She said that though there have been times when she felt professors or advisors were not supportive, she has also had professors and advisors that were supportive or part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves.  

“I would say I have a very unique experience with being out in college in part of the community where I have administration on my side a lot,” Ade said. “When I first came out, Dr. Flaherty was literally one of my biggest supporters.”  

Mack Graham, a senior studio art student, said that their professors and peers have been respectful toward their pronouns and identity.  

“If they mess up, they immediately correct themselves or apologize, and majority of the time, they just continue on because that’s what I just tell them to do,” Graham said.

Though some Eastern students said they have had good experiences so far, they also said that they feel more comfortable in certain spaces on campus than in others.  

Kaden Howard, a junior English student, said that there are certain bathrooms on campus he does not feel comfortable using as a trans man.  

“There are certain bathrooms around campus that it’s like ‘Oh, no, I am not going to be caught in the Coleman bathroom on a Wednesday morning because XYZ professor and/or students are going to be there,’” Howard said.  

For some Eastern students, there are many on-campus resources that help them feel more comfortable on campus.  

For Howard, that has been EIU Pride and the Doug DiBianco Community in McKinney Hall. He said that those spaces bring LGBTQ+ students and allies together, as well as help him feel like he has a community here. 

Howard said he was part of the group that went to the sit-ins and advocated for gender-inclusive housing. He said they had to “jump through a lot of hoops to get there.” 

“It felt really good to get to see how many people were trying to move onto that floor when housing contracts rolled around,” Howard said. “Just because it’s like ‘Oh, man, this is a need, this is something that people want and need.’” 

Some Eastern students said that there is still more the university could do for the LGBTQ+ community on campus.  

Graham said that when they first came to Eastern, things were not as good as they are today. 

They said that the improvements that have been made over the years are “awesome, but that’s the bare minimum.” 

“When you’re nonbinary or gender fluid or any sort of other gender or identity, it’s harder because a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t identify as anything? Well, how are we going to accommodate that?’” Graham said. “It’s a process. We are living in a time where the LGBTQ+ community is constantly expanding and becoming wider, so it’s a lot for people who aren’t in it to keep up with it.” 

Graham said that “it’s just a matter of keeping yourself updated, and I feel like Eastern needs to do that a little bit more.”  

Ade said one of the best things available for LGBTQ+ students is being able to change one’s name through their PAWS account. She said that her name being changed in the system means her deadname is not “floating around,” but there are times when it has been used.  

A deadname is the birth name of a trans or gender nonconforming person who changed their name.  

“I wish there were ways that I wouldn’t get emails with my deadname on it from financial aid or from scholarship sites,” Ade said. “It’d be great.”

Some students said that there are ways both Eastern and the surrounding community can better support LGBTQ+ students.  

A way Howard said that Eastern could help students is by having gender therapists on campus as part of the counseling clinic.  

“A lot of hormone replacement therapy requires a certain amount of time with a licensed gender therapist, unless you go to Planned Parenthood and get it,” Howard said. “Having somebody on campus who is dedicated to helping students who are part of the LGBTQ+ community because their experience can be so much different than other students on campus.”  

Graham said that a simple way to help trans and gender nonconforming students is to correct people who misgender or deadname them.  

“They would really appreciate it, even if they’re not there, if you would correct them or use their preferred pronoun and name,” Graham said. “Because a lot of the time when we’re not in the room, a lot of people forget about our identity, and so they kind of just push it over. Since we’re not in the room, we won’t know, but it’s kind of obvious to at least a few of us who is and isn’t putting in that effort.” 


Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].