March 31, 2023

Dear Members of the Community,

March 31 is a special day, and I am pleased to make note of the ways that the Hobart and William Smith community is observing Transgender Day of Visibility. This is an international event, founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandell, officially recognized in 2021 by President Joe Biden, and celebrated around the world. It’s both a celebration of the contributions of transgender people and a reminder of the historical and current day discrimination that transgender persons continue to face.

At HWS, our community’s celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility is being coordinated by many departments and offices, including Michelle Martin-Baron of Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice, Becca Barile on behalf of the Office of Campus Life, and Joshua Bastian Cole, the Colleges’ LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator and a faculty member in Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies. “Break the Binary: Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility Through Art,” is a weeklong drop-in Maker space designed for individuals to explore gender through art. The culmination is a temporary art show in the Provenzano Art Gallery in Scandling Campus Center today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. I encourage everyone to drop in to experience the show and learn more. 

Beyond a single day of celebration, I highlight the creation of our newest department: Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice. In addition to providing a home for our current majors in Women’s Studies and Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies, when fully established, this department will be a public expression of our values regarding the academic study of the complexities of lived experiences and structural inequalities.

I would also draw your attention to the thoughtful article authored by Senior Associate Provost of Curriculum, Assessment and Strategic Planning Jamie MaKinster titled “Practices to Create a More Gender-Inclusive Campus” that appears in today’s edition of Inside Higher Ed. Professor MaKinster writes very movingly about the experience of being transgender and offers suggestions for inclusive campus policies and practices around how we all use gendered language. It’s an important read for every member of our community. 

It’s an aspiration of the Colleges that every community member feels seen, heard, accepted and respected. It takes all of us working intentionally to keep that commitment. When we support and value every member of our community, we are rewarded with their best work, with their perspective, and with the diversity of experience that is the hallmark of a world class educational institution. I invite all members of our community to join in today’s recognition and to learn more about an important component of our nation’s civil rights history and the champions who advocated for trans rights and inclusion.


Bill Woodson
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion