In the fall of 2012, Peace Studies and Women and Gender Studies Alum, Addison Rose Vincent (’15), who identifies as non-binary, decided they wanted to rush for a sorority, which garnered a lot of attention on and off campus, and would make them the first openly trans person to rush at Chapman. At the time, seven of the eight sororities had policies that prevented trans and non-binary individuals from rushing. Vincent chose to rush anyway, picking Delta Gamma, who had a more inclusive policy.
Although they were not accepted into Delta Gamma, Vincent found the experience to be exciting and enlightening. “It got news coverage, and it got people thinking about Greek life on campus, and why folks who identify as feminine or women aren’t allowed in those spaces.” Vincent then participated in Delta Queens, an annual all-women pageant fundraiser hosted by Chapman Greek life. This experience was featured in the OC Register.
“Intersectional feminism is not so much about inclusivity, as it is about coalition,” says Wilkinson’s Women’s Studies Director and Professor C.K. Magliola. “You do not have to be the same as someone else to care about similar things—solidarity does not require sameness.” During Women’s History Month, she says, it is especially important to recognize women’s accomplishments and celebrate the fight against gender oppression while also recognizing intersectional identities. “To do otherwise, would be a type of violence.”
“I loved being able to learn more about myself through literature and build my feminist lens through [Magliola’s] classes,” Vincent said. “Most of the people that I talk to from Chapman today were Women’s Studies students. I think we stayed connected because we built such strong relationships and coalitions.”
Vincent, who currently serves as the founder and lead consultant of the LGBTQ+ consulting firm, Break The Binary LLC, described Chapman as the place where they were finally able to be themselves, despite being, to their knowledge, the only transgender and non-binary student on campus. “There was one faculty member that I knew that was non-binary, one staff member that was non-binary, and I was the only student.”
“I think it’s so important on this Women’s History Month, that we take the time to recognize the important work of trans women of color, and also to urge women to work together, and to see that intercommunity collaboration is so important and so vital to the movement. Our feminism needs to be intersectional,” said Vincent .
Participation in both sorority rushing and Delta Queen kept Vincent continually in the spotlight, which they describe as a “double-edged sword.” While it made them vulnerable to verbal attacks in the surrounding community, it also paved the way for more trans and non-binary visibilty on campus. “It was beautiful to see current and incoming students begin coming into campus as openly trans and non-binary proud people. I was able to build a strong community.”
It was in Wilkinson that Vincent found their favorite classes and professors. They forged a lasting bond with Magliola, who knew Vincent throughout their time at Chapman. “[Addison] and I went through a lot,” Magliola said. “I had [Addison] as a student from the time they were a first-year, all the way through their senior year, and it was really enriching for me to watch them on their journey.” Vincent was also continually inspired by Professors Stephanie Takaragawa (Sociology) and Lisa Leitz (Peace Studies). “[All three of them] are amazing teachers—amazing people. They each have incredible stories, and I think that everyone should know that,” Vincent said.
To find out more about Wilkinson’s Women’s Studies program, visit the Women and Gender Studies Minor Webpage.