Charlotte Clymer Informs BC About the Transgender Community in Endowed Lecture

Charlotte+Clymer

Photo by Bridgewater College

Charlotte Clymer, a human rights activist and proud transgender woman, informed Bridgewater College on how individuals can be apart of informing ourselves and others about those who are not truly understood by everyone.

Molly Lynch, Staff Writer

Stafford, Va. – On Thursday, Feb. 11, Bridgewater College hosted an endowed lecture featuring human rights activist, Charlotte Clymer. The event was held on Zoom. 

Clymer is a transgender woman, veteran, and former press secretary for Rapid Response at the Human Rights Campaign, which is the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) equality.

“I think that the ability to go through diversity, equity and inclusion efforts is such a difficult thing sometimes because we tend to wrap it up in this kind of concept that only appeals to women, LGBTQ people and people of color,” said Clymer. “And really, DEI includes everyone.”  

Drawing from her Army experience and the use of a compass in land navigation, Clymer made the analogy that “all these soldiers had a compass, and they were trained how to use it, and yet they still got lost. And so I think there’s an important difference between having the tools to do the work and actually applying them to do the work.”

Jennifer Babcock, a senior instructor in communication studies and the director of endowed lectures, introduced Clymer for her speech.  

“I thought Charlotte’s lecture was filled with interesting and useful information. She did a great job explaining terminology related to gender identity and gender expression,” Babcock said.

During her lecture, Clymer discussed how students can take part in the transgender and LGBTQ community. “The labor of educating ourselves and ensuring that we really hold accountable anyone who tries to spread propaganda about people who are oppressed,” said Clymer. 

Earlier in the week, Clymer also participated in other events including as a guest lecturer in two classes in communication studies — representations of gender, race and class and strategic public relations — and gender and sexuality studies in the sociology department.

“Clymer was very gracious if a student was asking a question and did not have the correct terminology to explain what they were trying to ask,” said senior Emily Gormus, a student of Babcock’s.  “She took the time to educate us about trans issues that we were not aware of. I appreciated how open Clymer was about who she is and her experiences.” 

“If you are cis, there are so many resources out there that can help you get to more about what trans people experience. If you approach it in good faith, if you make an honest effort of learning more about this, I promise you will walk away so deeply informed,” said Clymer.

Babcock also mentioned other ways people can be more informed.

“One of the best ways you can learn about groups you don’t belong to is by listening to people’s stories,” said Babcock. “One way to do that is to come to lectures like this one, but you could also watch some Ted Talks or look at the LGBTQ section on streaming platforms like Netflix.”

Clymer concluded the lecture with a statement about how we can be more helpful and involved in our community. 

“Make sure you are taking on the labor as allies in whatever form that happens to be, to stand beside those who are marginalized,” said Clymer. “We have a responsibility to ensure that we are doing the work of learning more about those experiences and ensuring that we can talk confidently to the struggles that so many face.”

Students can get involved in different movements supporting the LGBTQ and trans community by learning more about these topics including through websites such as GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).