March 31 is national Transgender Awareness Day. One of the groups helping to celebrate the day will be The League of Extraordinary Genders (TLEG).
TLEG is not an official registered student organization at the University. Instead, members consider themselves part of an informal group that works actively toward education and advocacy of transgender individuals and gender nonconformity.
“We started in the fall of 2015 with just a couple of people from PRIDE, and a graduate student in Diversity Advocacy,” said Nicole Ersland, a graduate student in social work who joined a growing number of people attending gatherings at the LGBT/Queer Studies and Services Institute. “We really got going during the spring semester of 2016.”
The group prides itself on an informal structure. “We’re a mix of socializing and advocacy,” said Kellen Carter, a senior psychology major. “We provide a place for transgender and gender nonconforming students to meet and not be afraid to be themselves. It’s also a great way to organize our voices on campus.”
Ersland was invited to become a member of the All-Gender Committee, and TLEG members took part in the Culturally Responsive Campus Community (CRCC) Conference in the fall of 2016. The group is also involved in education on and off campus. Along with being invited to give presentations for workshops and classes on campus, members provided sensitivity training for the local Special Olympics. “Organizers are seeing more trans students enter the Special Olympics program, and wanted to provide support,” said Ersland.
More community members are finding their way to TLEG as well. “There are very few groups in the area for trans people and gender nonconformists,” said Carter. “We provide a place that offers a sense of camaraderie, a sense of family.”
Those who are interested in learning more about TLEG can visit the Facebook page or send a message to the LGBTQ Institute at LGBTQ@IllinoisState.edu.