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Where I Belong

My Howard sisterhood supported me after I transitioned to male. Our country needs to do the same.

by Neeka Greene (BA ’20)
Neeka Greene on Howard campus

Neeka Greene, who transitioned to male during undergrad at Howard, helped change his women's social club bylaws to keep his membership, and, thus, his sense of belonging. Photo by Tony Richards.

During my freshman year at Howard University, I joined the Ladies of the Quad Social Club (LOQSC). I started transitioning from female to male the next year.

I didn’t want to leave the club; I was a welcomed part of the sisterhood. Because of its emphasis on self-love and care, I felt enabled to become the person I was meant to be.

With the aid of an older sister and the chairwomen at the time, we could protect my membership by making an amendment to our constitution. We switched the use of ‘sex’ to ‘gender expression’ so that someone like me, who gender-expressed as a woman at the time of entry, would still retain membership even after transitioning. Likewise, someone whose sex might be different but who gender-expressed as a woman would not be discriminated against in the entry process. This amendment was not only was the first unanimous decision made by our board in history, but also made LOQSC the first and only social club on campus to be based on gender expression, not sex.

I didn’t want to leave the club; I was a welcomed part of the sisterhood. Because of its emphasis on self-love and care, I felt enabled to become the person I was meant to be.

In 2019 I received the Lavender Fund Scholarship for advocacy work for the LGBTQ+ community within my social club. The recognition was monumental, not just for me as a young activist, but also for Howard and its commitment to moving forward.

Currently the atmosphere for transgender youth in the United States is bleak. Data indicates that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide. 30% of respondents reported being homeless at one point, and 27% responded that they had been fired, not hired, or not promoted in 2016 or 2017 because of their gender identity.

29% of transgender youth have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, compared to 7% of cisgender youth. And 43% of transgender youth have been bullied on school property, compared to 18% of cisgender youth.

Neeka Greene by HU
Neeka Greene (he, him, his) is a library technician in Founders Library at Howard University and a transgender activist, specializing in documenting the Black trans experience. Photo by Tony Richards.

Despite all this, more anti-transgender bills have been introduced – and passed – across the country. According to the Washington Post, more than 400 anti-trans bills have been introduced since January. That’s more than the total number of bills in the past four years. These range from outlawing gender affirming care to banning participation in sports leagues.

This type of legislation is an attempt to erase and exclude trans people from participation in all aspects of public life.

Our generation has the privilege that many other generations didn't have. We can change our birth certificate from female to male. We have modern medicine guaranteeing safe and successful gender affirming care and surgeries. Yet this still doesn't address the body politics and reality of the systemic erasure of a trans community in public and archival spaces. Body politics doesn’t allow us to live our truth; nor honor that truth by documenting, understanding, or appreciating it. It forces us into gender roles arbitrarily because of someone else's whim or vision.

It is our responsibility to treat every citizen within our community with the same respect, for we’ve been walking among you this entire time. We are not responsible for the repression we face. Our existence is non-negotiable. If one caters their politics to the least among us, all will benefit, no matter what.



This story appears in the Fall 2023 issue.
Article ID: 1576

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