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Trans Day of Visibility at CCU designed to bring together local and trans communities

March 21, 2019
Julie Singleton wants to improve the community’s understanding of trans people through engagement and to reach out to those who may be interested in transitioning. Xan Lutsky will be on a panel March 28 at CCU's Trans Day of Visibility.Greg Green served as a moderator for a transgender support group at Garden of Grace United Church of Christ and has been on the board of South Carolina Equality as the chairman of the Trans Action Tas

A panel of guest speakers will raise awareness of and bring attention to the local and regional trans community as they hold an open discussion at Coastal Carolina University about their experiences and perspectives as trans individuals.

Trans Day of Visibility will take place Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the Johnson Auditorium, organized by the Athenaeum Press, CCU’s student-driven publishing lab; CCU’s Arts and Humanities Global Experiences Program (AHGEP); and T-Time Myrtle Beach, an area trans support group. Students involved in the Athenaeum Press’ current project, titled “Trans Voices of the South,” will moderate the discussion and navigate the question/answer period afterward. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow.

The discussion will feature four panelists from the local community: Greg Green, Kevin David Rossi, Julie Singleton and Xan Lutsky.

The Trans Day of Visibility grew out of a yearlong project currently underway within the Athenaeum Press in conjunction with AHGEP programming.

The Athenaeum Press project is a two-semester, student-driven experiential learning course involving research and critical reading and writing activities that will culminate in a book and accompanying website.

The topic of trans issues evolved from a series of events involving a number of CCU experiential learning initiatives and departments. In spring 2016, a group of AHGEP student ambassadors, many of whom are also involved with the Athenaeum Press, visited Goldsmiths, University of London, for a week of activities and workshops with Goldsmiths faculty and internationally renowned artists. In January/February 2019, the Athenaeum Press and AHGEP, in collaboration with CCU’s Edwards Digital Commons, Center for Global Engagement, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Intercultural and Inclusion Student Services, invited two international scholar-artist-activists, whom they had met on their 2018 trip, to the CCU campus to share their insights into trans experience and activism. During their three-day visit, Mijke van der Drift and Jay Bernard offered programming for the entire CCU community as well as the general public.

Alli Crandell, director of the Athenaeum Press and Digital Initiatives, and Tripthi Pillai, coordinator of AHGEP and assistant professor in the Department of English, discovered during van der Drift’s and Bernard’s visit that CCU students and the surrounding community would benefit from a nonacademic, locally based perspective on the trans community in addition to an international, academic experience. Thus, they organized the Trans Day of Visibility to offer another dimension on the topic, one specifically rooted in the Athenaeum’s Press mission of telling critical, culturally relevant and authentic stories of the region.

“As Mijke and Jay’s talks were both academically and culturally focused, Alli and I agreed we ought to complement the value of their insights by bringing in nonacademic voices and perspectives on trans identity that are also based in experience,” said Pillai. “Moreover, since the Press project focuses on the nuances of trans identities in the South, we felt it was important for speakers to share their perspectives on their experiences within the local and regional communities. Consequently, we collaborated with local trans community leaders to put together a panel to discuss the critical and cultural importance of visibility in trans activism.”

A native of South Carolina, Green graduated from the Citadel in 2006 and works in the trade industry at FedEx. He served as a moderator for a transgender support group at Garden of Grace United Church of Christ and has been on the board of South Carolina Equality as the chairman of the Trans Action Task Force. He is currently establishing a nonprofit to assist transgender individuals in securing name changes.

Rossi grew up in upstate New York and always desired to be a male despite his female body. He repressed his desires for 33 years, in the interim earning an undergraduate degree from State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo and multiple graduate degrees from Eastern Kentucky University. Upon moving to Alabama, Rossi transitioned medically and legally, only to suffer discrimination from his church community. Since then, he has been living in the Myrtle Beach area, caring for his mother, and plans to enter a Ph.D. program in public health.

Singleton was born and raised in Myrtle Beach and works in the optical field. Her interest in participation is to improve the community’s understanding of trans people through engagement and to reach out to those who may be interested in transitioning.

Lutsky is a trans activist and educator based in Myrtle Beach who studied social work, political science, and women’s and gender studies at Winthrop University. While in Dublin in 2016, Lutsky worked to organize and speak for events including the March for Choice, the rally to End Direct Provision, and the #NotMyPresident rally. Lutsky is co-chair of the Grand Strand Action Together Human Rights committee, has spoken at the Myrtle Beach Women's March about trans inclusivity and is training to become a midwife.

Johnson Auditorium is located in Room 116 of the Wall building on CCU’s main campus. For more information, reach Crandell at acrandell@coastal.edu or Pillai at tpillai@coastal.edu. Learn more about the Athenaeum Press or CCU’s AHGEP program.