Many transgender students, regardless of age and background, face so many barriers when it comes to approaching higher education. From micro to macro, there are obstacles and landmines along the way that make accessibility difficult. It’s often on us to find resources specific to our experience that can help us find the right schools, funding opportunities, and support networks. This can feel like an insurmountable task even with professional and personal guidance and support.
Many of us have lost emotional, social, financial, and other means of support from our families and communities upon coming out, which can lead us to feel that academia and success are distant dreams we’re no longer a match for. Trans people are at a higher risk of facing hiring and workplace discrimination, making it harder for us to find and maintain employment. As many of us struggle to make ends meet financially to meet basic needs, we aren’t able to take on the additional financial responsibility of paying for school.
Many of us come from communities and schools that don’t understand our unique needs and us. If we’re lucky to have advisors, counselors, teachers, and staff that are well-meaning and supportive, due to structural failures that plague our education system, many aren’t equipped with the training and knowledge of resources to support trans people in finding trans-inclusive institutions and programs, funding and scholarship opportunities, and other important resources. In my own personal experience, I had to figure out the process on my own, which was daunting, discouraging, and felt sometimes impossible.
In my search for funding, there were few scholarships, grants, and other funding resources geared toward trans students, and the ones I found were not easy to come by. The vast majority of college and scholarship applications out there still reflect outdated concepts about gender and sex, requiring applicants to enter legal names only and choose between male or female, without options to self-identify beyond legal sex defined at birth. This leads us to ask if these institutions and funds are even open to us. Is there even a point to put ourselves out there to apply? Beyond this, it’s still true that transgender college students are more likely than other groups to face mental health struggles and many institutions remain behind in offering enough support to meet our needs. Many of us feel concerned about whether or not we’ll be accepted and respected by students, faculty, and staff. Do we belong in these spaces? Is it safe for us to learn and thrive? Seeing as we face discrimination and hostility in many areas of our lives, in society at large, and we’ve already had harmful or negative experiences in school, we wonder if higher education will be different.
The truth is that every institution benefits from the presence and participation of trans people. We bring important perspectives and experiences to all spaces we find ourselves in, especially learning environments. In this way, it’s a gift that the Transgender First scholarship exists to support the educational careers of trans students.
this upcoming venus retrograde is asking us to get serious about our roles, goals, histories, & futures with relationships, intimacy, connection, & pleasure.
when we search for or attempt to consume (or be consumed by) love, intimacy, connection, pleasure - we are out of integrity with ourselves & others. we chase feelings & short-term solutions to fill gaps within or soothe the hungry hearts of our inner children. it happens! it's what we're taught culturally & societally, but continuing on in this way leaves us empty, starving, and playing into patterns that hurt us, others, and feed into a collective shadow of relational dynamics steeped in white supremacy, capitalism, and cis/heteropatriarchy. we aren't objects, we aren't unlimited resources, we aren't territories to tour through, we are beautiful, complex, inspirited people - and we owe it to each other & ourselves to treat us that way.
venus in retrograde in capricorn wants us to look into our hearts, look into our relationships - to understand that the love & intimacy we desire we must first give to ourselves in order to mindfully connect with others. because if we don't love ourselves in regular ritual practice, the love others give us will never stick & we will feel we never have enough to give.
during this time, we must commit to healing in relation & love - of all kinds. we are meant to get really serious about needs, desires - how we meet them for ourselves, how we get them met, & how we meet them for others. we must be willing & dedicated to the work of self, other, & collective love in order to liberate ourselves from outdated belief systems, codependent patterns, & oppressive structures that have negatively dictated how we approach care, connection, & sexuality, to name a few. this means doing the inner work of first - looking.
what are our beliefs & values around love, intimacy, sex? what work have we done & what have we yet to do to alchemize our attachment wounds? who have we been to others, how have we shown up (or not) in our bonds? what do we have to give & how can we show up ready to support, honor, & provide for ourselves, lovers, friends, community, society?
we must be resourced & know our resources to do this. we must be devoted & also flexible. we must be in it for the long haul, no matter the missteps. liberated relationships take time, effort, & constantly showing up truer, bolder, & more honest over & over.
this retrograde will put us to the test & ask us - are we really ready to get free with one another? to relate in new paradigms, to surrender to our bodies & spirits with intention rather than from a place of consumption & instant gratification? from the expansive heart rather than the hungry heart?
what well-worn ways, behaviors are you willing to sacrifice to live your life with love, the biggest revolutionary force we have at our disposal? what compromises to your comfort zones are you willing to make to meet others in their fullest truths from your fullest truths? to meet the world & your role in it from your fullest truths?
it's not easy, but trust - avoiding this work is much harder, more painful, & the benefits much more elusive & faraway from us than getting down & dirty now. start with yourself, start slow, but start / keep going!
is a writer, performer, healer, feeler, weirdo witch from the great beyond.