My Thoughts on the Queerly Political Media & Politics Café 

Author Makena Warfield '24 is a Media & Communications Studies major and works as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News.

When I was offered an opportunity to attend the fall semester Media & Politics Café, “Queerly Political: LGBTQIA2S+ Politics Amidst an Unsettled Political Climate of Election 2024,” I was excited to go and learn more. The Queerly Political panel hosted four guests who each offered different perspectives on LGBTQIA2S+ politics.

Queerly Political panel with panelists sitting at table

The panelists

  • Joy Ellison (they/them), assistant professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island. 
  • Kate Wilkinson (she/her), Target 12 Investigative Reporter at WPRI News. 
  • Korina Ramsland Short (she/her), co-director of the Bridge for Diversity, Equity & Social Justice at Johnson & Wales University 
  • Matt Guardino Ph.D. (he/him), associate professor of Political Science at Providence College. 

It was helpful to listen to such a thought-provoking and informative panel about these important political topics ahead of the upcoming 2024 election. The panelists sparked meaningful and educational conversations beyond the classroom. They highlighted how the rights of the transgender community are continuing to be threatened and taken away, and dangerous laws are being enforced, such as Don’t Say Gay, which continue to threaten trans peoples’ rights. Laws are continuing to be passed on both the federal and local levels that will continue to threaten LGBTQ+ lives.   

Throughout the panel, there was a consistent, healthy back and forth among the panelists about how to navigate these issues. One important highlight of the discussion was the continuous hardships that the transgender community still face, as they remain one of the most marginalized communities. They are faced with many challenges — loss of income, loss of jobs, reduced access to resources and heightened rates of poverty.    

I have one favorite panelist from the event who I found very inspiring — Joy Ellison. I was able to ask them for advice on how I could best support my transgender big sister in the world we live in today. Joy emphasized the importance of making sure my sister’s voice remains heard while also continuing to fight for her rights when they are threatened.  

Lori and Makena WarfieldMY SISTER, LORI (LEFT) AND ME (RIGHT).

While the panel made me want to continue to strengthen my voice as an advocate, it also made me more strongly aware of the local legislation’s role in these issues and how it impacts the community beyond just the federal legislation.  
In the past three years at Johnson & Wales, I was able to discover my sexual orientation through the support of class professors, classmates, and the many friends that I have made. I was able to make friends from the LGBTIQIA+ community which allowed me to become my true self. 

Key takeaway: What can people do to support the LGBTQIA2S+ community? 

This panel stressed the importance of taking action and voicing objections to unfair legislation, especially when it comes to trans rights. Furthermore, the panelists encouraged the audience to engage with their local government members to fight for important rights, to make sure they are upheld on both federal and state levels.    

How can JWU support you? 

At Johnson & Wales, we offer plenty of resources for LGBTQ+ students to take advantage. We have a safe space called The Bridge for Diversity, Equity & Social Justice. The Bridge offers a variety of events and educational programming around the topics of sexual and racial identity, culture, social justice, sexual assault/relationship violence prevention and more.  

JWU also offers gender-affirming care to students who are a part of the university’s insurance plan. And student-led clubs on both campuses are a great source of support for LGBTQ+ students, celebrating the diversity of sexual identities, ethnicities and cultures that our community represents. You’ll always be supported here! 

The Bridge at JWU 

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