Student Life Editor
The Mabel Brown Room was filled with emotions on Thursday as a justice panel for the transgender community spoke about their rights.
Hunter Kirschner, the program support assistant for LGBTQ students, planned the event in response to a New York Times article that discusses a memo from the Department of Human Services.
“A lot of it centered around wanting to create a space to be able to have a conversation about it,” said Kirschner.
According to the Keene State College student handbook, “Keene State College prohibits gender discrimination in any of its programs and activities.”
“It’s to demonstrate that we’re in institution that is taking it seriously and care about the impact,” said Kirschner.
Kirschner wanted to respomd to the political side, as well as the social aspect.
“My job is to work with and support LGBTQ students. It falls under my purview, and personally as a trans person this hit me too,” said Kirschner.
Thinking about his students, Kirschner wanted to make them feel safe and loved: “In light of my response to this […] I’m sure students are varying the level of their own transition and identity development may feel more vulnerable and more harmed so I wanted to acknowledge that and respond to that.”
The Panel included Jeff Maher, Emily Mcgill, and three other KSC students. The panelists answered questions about safety and concern in the transgender student population.
“They talked about information and context but also the authority they have, people would take them seriously,” said Kirschner.
During the panel, students shared personal stories reflecting on living as transgender students. Kirschner said it was important to have students on the panel: “Having the students speak from their own experiences on [an] individual level, being able to elicit empathy and to hear about any fear they have,” said Kirschner.
Throughout the night, the audience that consisted of students, citizens of Keene and faculty members listened and asked questions to the panel regarding safety.
The main goal of the panel was to provide some answers for the community and show the support for Keene State students who are transgender or part of the LGBTQ community.
“We want to create spaces for people to come together as a community to resist and build resilience against what’s happened,” said Kirschner.
This informative justice panel led people’s eyes to become watery, whereas some were red with anger.
“It’s a lot of different feelings. [Some] are angry about what’s going on, unfair and not surprising, it’s very unjust and frustrating,” said Kirschner.
The panel is only the beginning of the fixing the problem. Reaching out to the community was the first step.
“That’s [what] cultivating a community is. [It] creates a group of people that care about each other. Having more these conversations, but also practicing creating a community… and it’s hard to expect people to know how to do it,” said Kirschner.
Kirschner realizes that the panel alone will not solve the issue of transgender rights being changed, but he said that there is still a way to make a difference: “Taking the time and energy to help someone or support someone. It’s all about practicing love.”
Alyssa Wisniewski can be contacted at