The University of Indianapolis will be creating a new BelongSpace for the transgender and nonbinary community, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing S. Alexander Kemery said. According to Kemery, it is easy for people in these communities to feel alone and he wanted to create something where trans and nonbinary people can come together in their own space.
“When I was early in my transition, one of the things I think that was the best for me was having space with other trans people to hang out and do things that had nothing to do with being trans,” Kemery said.
Kemery said he wanted to create a space where trans and nonbinary people can simply watch movies, hang out and play games. In these spaces, trans and nonbinary people do not have to keep their guard up and can be comfortable with themselves, Kemery said.
“The plan is to have some get-togethers. My goal is not to center those get-togethers on what it means to be trans or to have a support group type of thing, for sure,” Kemery said. “I’m sure that there will be relationships that grow out of that, that end up being supportive of people who participate in those ways.”
According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition, trans and nonbinary people deserve to be supported in every space and those around them should contribute in helping create these kinds of spaces. Including marginalized groups like trans and nonbinary people means giving them a voice in the community, the National Harm Reduction Coalition said.
Vice President & Chief Inclusive Excellence and Retention Strategy Officer Amber Smith said that she agrees with creating this community on campus. The goal is to create a space where the trans and nonbinary people on campus feel safe, Smith said.
“We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to support all communities, and specifically, tailoring programming to this population is very important,” Smith said.
In an email sent out by Vice President of Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli, a questionnaire was attached in order to collect data on how many people would benefit from the creation of a trans and nonbinary space at the university.
“People did it [created a space] for me. Those people who are trans would see me at community events and be like . . . ‘You’re coming to this thing because it’s where we all hang out,’” Kemery said. “Just being able to build that kind of community was really good for my mental health.”
According to Kemery, the results in the questionnaire have helped Kemery and Smith figure out how big the community is and figure out how many people would be able to come to the events.
“I’m already seeing that the trans community at UIndy is bigger than I even thought it was,” Kemery said.