Ally is a Verb: EK Green '23 PhD (Economics)

May 31, 2022


EK Green ’23 PhD (Economics) hopes to inspire everyone to advocate for transgender inclusion.

Green identifies as “agender” (without gender) and “aroace”, which is a portmanteau of the words “aromantic” and “asexual”, meaning they do not experience romantic or sexual attraction. As an out and proud queer person at the Eller College of Management, Green feels compelled to increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and identities throughout the college.

“I do my work here in the hopes that it makes it easier for the next person,” says Green, whose advocacy has already had an impact on campus.

When Green began their PhD program, there were no restrooms in the Eller College that aligned with their gender identity. Every time they needed to use the restroom, Green would travel down two flights of stairs and across the parking lot to the all-gender restrooms in the James E. Rogers College of Law.

In their second year, Green contacted the LGBTQ+ Resource Center for guidance on this barrier and with help from the LGBTQ+ Student Advisory Board and key Eller faculty and staff, Facilities Management constructed an all-gender restroom on the second floor at Eller.

“It’s good to be able to use the bathroom in the academic building that you work in,” they said.

Green said access to gender-affirming restrooms and healthcare, as well as having a supportive person in one’s life—whether it be a parent, colleague or teacher—matters enormously for the safety and wellbeing of individuals who are transgender.

“I’ve learned there are a lot of good people at Eller,” says Green, who has received positive feedback from others on campus about the influence their presence has on transgender awareness. “That makes me really hopeful as long as that awareness translates into action.”

While pleased to make a difference, Green said their position as an advocate is burdensome and wishes more people would share the responsibility. They said people who are cisgender—those whose gender identity aligns with the biological sex assigned to them at birth—do not need to be experts on transgender issues to be effective allies.

“You just need to know that we are people, and want us to live and thrive, and listen to us when we say what we need to do that, and get off the bench and take action,” Green said. “We are strongest together and when we stand up for each other.”