Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Au Revoir, Our Intern ... To Trans Equality and Beyond!

By Stephen Wiseman, ENC intern

When I came to Equality North Carolina last summer, I never imagined what an incredible experience I would have over the next year.

On my first visit to Raleigh, I met with Ian Palmquist and Josh Wynne and discussed ideas around better involving transgender individuals in the organization through community outreach and policy work. I was quickly welcomed with warm arms into the organization and was able to spend time at the legislature with Ian, Josh, Nicole, and others to learn the inner workings of the state legislative process.

After working with the organization for about a month, Ian and I found a way for me to stay on over the next year and complete my second year field placement through the UNC School of Social Work with ENC. What happened over the next year proved to be one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I feel so privileged to have worked with a state LGBT organization that has such a strong commitment to advocate for all individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Through my work with ENC I learned invaluable skills and made connections with individuals that will certainly influence all of my future endeavors.

Perhaps the best part of my experience with ENC is the lasting friendships I made. Ian, Josh, Rebecca, Shawn, Kay, Nicole, Seth, Wes, Greer, and many members of the board have opened my eyes to new learning and I am thankful to know each of them. I also feel incredibly lucky to have met so many remarkable members of the transgender community in North Carolina. I am inspired daily by each of their lives and will continue to work to achieve equality and justice for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals with their stories in mind.

I am excited to embark on the next step of my journey as I move to New York to accept a Vaid Fellowship with the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. I am tremendously thankful to have worked for such a fine organization. I hope to return to North Carolina in the future and once again work to advocate for LGBT equality and justice. Until that time, I know that all who work for and with Equality North Carolina will continue to achieve extraordinary feats every day.