BW student using award to educate others about transgender community

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BEREA, Ohio (WJW) — Dan Eggers wants transgender people to feel comfortable and safe where they work, study, and live.

He’s a student at Baldwin Wallace University and says being one of the first two openly transgender people to enter a top musical theatre program is daunting. However, he knows his presence, whether on stage or in person, may lead someone to discover transgender people exist.

Here’s something else he wants others to know: not everyone’s anatomy fits into the male or female category.

 “1.7 percent is a lot of the population. In fact, it’s the same percent of people who have red hair. So, think about the amount of people you know who have red hair. That’s the same amount of people who are intersex,” said Eggers.

It’s that lack of knowledge that Dan is trying to fix. He just won an OZY Genius Award, which offers 10 college students up to $10,000 to turn their genius ideas into reality.

What’s Dan’s idea? He’s going to teach doctors, teachers, theater directors and other working professionals about transgender history and inclusivity, as well as common microagressions.

“It’s them asking invasive questions about your body, and asking, ‘Oh, what was your name before?'”

Dan has been interviewing both transgender and cisgender professionals, and with the help of his mentor, he’s framing the curriculum around their needs and questions.

When finished, the project will include simple tips like having students introduce themselves instead of teachers reading off a roster, or not separating students by gender for group activities. Dan says that creates an environment where trans students feel like they belong. In hospitals, he says changing paperwork could clear up a lot of confusion.

“It’s making sure that these bodies parts are being addressed and these that I don’t have aren’t being addressed. So, instead of having male and female on the paper…what are you really asking with that question?” said Eggers.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 29 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed in 2021. The organization says at least because these stories often go unreported — or misreported. In previous years, the majority of those deaths were Black and Latin-X trans women.

Dan says he’s including the entire trans community in his research because he understands that danger and his privilege.

“I am white. I’m cis passing, I am transmasculine, and I had a mom who accepted me and who was able to afford for me to get things that I needed in order for me to be safe…and a lot of people don’t have access to those things.”

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