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Student Profile: Rolande Lewis

American University has been a wonderful experience for me over my two years here, and the GLBTA resource center made it even more so. After working in the federal government for five years, I came to AU at the same time that I was preparing to change genders. The GLBTA office was the very first place I visited, before I even applied to graduate school. The staff assured me that AU would be a safe and friendly environment; this was a welcome change for me after working in government, which is not always a queer-friendly place to be. I was not yet ready to live as a woman my first semester, but I gradually wore more feminine clothing and began to grow my hair. Over the summer, I finally started to live as a woman full-time, and consulted with the resource center again. They provided me resources to assist me in coming out to my family as transgender, and gave me advice about approaching my new professors as well. This was a huge step for me, and the GLBTA staff reassured me that it would be okay for me to start my second semester as a woman, and that was really important. Aside from one classmate who was a bit uncomfortable with the new me, I had no problems. It was a very smooth transition, and my professors were wonderfully supportive. I had two short term jobs during my transition, and by end of my second year, I was perfectly comfortable working as a woman; having had AU and the resource as places to become more confident and comfortable in my identity. The GLBTA center staff was so wonderful, that some of them even took pictures of me every few months, so that we could watch as I changed. This has been a huge change for me, learning to live in an entirely new gender, and the resource center has been a essential in my transition.