On March 19, shortly after returning from spring break, the Thacher community gathered in the Milligan Center for the Performing Arts to hear from special guest Alex Myers, a writer, teacher, and speaker. During the course of his talk, Mr. Myers shared his personal perspective as the first openly transgender student at his boarding school and offered thoughtful insights on gender identity, sexual orientation, and the LGBTQ+ continuum.
“Mr. Myers’ talk truly deserved the standing ovation it received,” described Griffin Somaratne ’18, who provided the introduction to the talk. “With a conversational tone, Mr. Myers educated the School on matters of gender identity, gender expression, transgender identity, and the ways gender works in our society through his own experience as a transgender man. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have him come to our School, and I know that his words had a strong influence on students and faculty alike.”
Mr. Myers grew up in Maine and then attended Phillips Exeter Academy for high school. During his undergraduate years, he attended Harvard University, where he studied near eastern languages and civilizations and, as the first openly transgender student at the university, helped work to change the school’s nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity. After later earning a master’s degree in religion at Brown University, Mr. Myers decided to pursue a career in teaching English at secondary schools, which he continues today. He is also a writer who completed his master of fine arts in fiction writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
“We were thrilled to have Alex Myers on the Thacher campus for a few days,” said Dean of Students Sabina McMahon, who consulted with Mr. Myers during his visit about how Thacher can further foster a campus culture that helps LGBTQ+ community members thrive. “His insight and perspective regarding how best to support our students, faculty, and staff along the gender identity continuum were very helpful as we engage in creating policies for the community as a whole.”
In addition to his all-school talk and his meeting with Ms. McMahon, Mr. Myers met with Spectrum, a student group dedicated to issues that are important to the LGBTQ+ community, and met with individual students for one-on-one conversations.
“It was incredible to have Mr. Myers meet with us as a group,” said senior Katie O’Neill, one of the student heads of Spectrum. “He helped us discuss what we as a group can do to further improve quality of life for trans students and queer students in general at Thacher. It was very impactful to have the trans experience brought into mainstream campus conversation.”
“To have him share a personal narrative helped many in the community gain insight and a more informed understanding of the many perspectives to consider when it comes to gender identity and expression,” agreed Ms. McMahon. “We, as a community, certainly benefited from his visit.”
Griffin concluded: “Having guest speakers like Mr. Myers is an important step in addressing matters of inclusion in our community and initiating real change.”Learn more about our visiting scholars program and diversity and inclusion at Thacher.