Otterbein’s FreeZone! organization creates a safe environment for transgender students amidst the passage of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the U.S.
There are over 400 pieces of legislation in the United States that are harmful to the LGBTQ community, four of which are currently moving through Ohio's state legislature, and one that has been introduced.
FreeZone! puts on weekly meetings to further educate students on various topics related to the LGBTQ community.
March 25 marked the start of Trans Visibility Week, during which FreeZone! held events geared toward teaching students about transgender issues. The first day included Other Prom, a formal dance with the main message of inclusivity.
The first informative event, TalkingTrans Rights, took place on March 28 and featured Joseph Soza, a representative from Equality Ohio, as its speaker. Soza spoke about current anti-LGBTQ bills that could be passed in Ohio and what they entail. “We are in a time of urgency, a really unfortunate time right now, especially with a tax on trans and nonbinary and gender-expansive people,” he said.
Soza’s final message of the seminar expressed his perspective on the politicians that create anti-LBGTQ bills. “We have so many problems in society […] and yet we have legislators that want to focus their time on making decisions for people that they don’t understand nor respect. [Legislators] want to take away rights.”
Freezone! also held an event on March 31 to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility. Various students were given a platform to tell their stories about being transgender and how simple things, such as a new haircut or outfit, can give them gender euphoria.
"A lot of times when you hear people talking about trans people it is like doom and gloom so it is important to have at least one day where we can talk about the good things that are happening," said Elliot Heye, president of Freezone!
“In the face of discrimination, trans joy is radical,” he said.