The Queer and Trans Service Student Agency: a safe space for LGBTQIA+ students

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Photo courtesy of Maria Nevada
McKenzy Parsons
CONTRIBUTOR

The Queer and Trans Services Student Agency (QTS) supports members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans spectrum, queer spectrum, intersex, asexual, gender spectrum, and sexuality spectrum (LGBTQIA+) society.

Jessica Hitchins, Ph.D., a faculty advisor of QTS, said that QTS hosts three different support groups weekly. The first support group is called Melanated Queerations. This support group meets every Tuesday at 12 p.m., and it’s for people of color who are within the LGBTQIA+ community. Lez Bi Real Queer meets every Wednesday at 12 p.m. for anyone within the LGBTQIA+ community who needs a safe space to talk with other members of the community. TRANScend is a support group that meets every Thursday at 12 p.m. This group is for transgender, gender expansive, genderqueer, gender fluid, bigender, hirja, two spirit, and agender people.

TRANScend is hosted by sociology professor Jay Irwin, Ph.D. In TRANScend, Dr. Irwin said students drive the conversation.

“In TRANScend it’s often about catching up on where people are at in transition, if they’ve come out to new people, and other experiences related to people’s gender,” said Dr. Irwin.

QTS is a safe space for these students by being a hangout spot, with like-minded individuals, and to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community. QTS is student-led and run, meaning it is peer supported, and it is a place where sexuality and gender is accepted, supported, and celebrated.

Dr. Hitchins said, QTS doesn’t just give students a safe place. They give them experiences with people just like them. QTS does game nights, movie nights, brunches, and other “OUTings.”

Since QTS is a student organization, Dr. Hitchins said, “We don’t have a hotline because we are not here for crises. We are here for support groups.”

If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and are in a crisis, QTS has a link on its webpage to The Trevor Project, which is a hotline for LGBTQIA+ crisis and suicide prevention. The Trevor Project phone number can be called 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The phone number is 1-866-488-7386.

The QTS webpage has links to all sorts of information for LGBTQIA+. There is information on gender inclusive housing and bathrooms, campus policies on discrimination, how to change your name and gender with the university, and names of other LGBTQIA+ faculty on campus. The QTS webpage also has a link to what is called “The Gender Unicorn.” This is for people to understand the definitions of the different identities.

QTS welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to come and celebrate sexuality and gender with an open mind. Dr. Irwin said his favorite thing about QTS is, “the joy when people connect with others like them, often for the first time.” He said coming to UNO and connecting with other people like them can “make or break their college experience.”

Dr. Hitchins said her favorite thing about QTS is that it is, “a space where you can be your fabulous, weird self and surrounded and affirmed for all your nerdy, weirdo identities.”

QTS is located in the Milo Bail Student Center room 114. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. QTS can be contacted by phone at 402-554-2890 or email unogsrc@unomaha.edu.

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