I had the opportunity to have a chat with a colleague of mine the other day. He had just returned from a trip to San Fransisco to attend a networking event. Anyway, he told me that he had a chance to have a conversation with a group of Alumni. He told me that they were really intrigued and supportive of the new entrepreneurial initiative he was speaking about and asked who was involved. Of course, my name came up.
“Erin LeBlanc has been involved since the design stage, so for the past 5 or 6 years.”
“Oh really? We recall a professor XXXX LeBlanc”.
“That’s her. She goes by Erin now, she transitioned last year”.
“Oh wow. We learned so much from her. She was a great prof. Please tell her we say hello!”
And the rest of the conversation carried on from there, about the initiative etc, etc. etc.
Upon relaying the encounter to me, he told me how impressed he was with the former students. Not only were they successful in the innovation space in the San Fransisco area, but they really want to be know how they could help out. He also said with respect to the conversation about me, they never, never missed a beat. They immediately used the correct name and pronouns. There was no hesitation, awkwardness or quizzical looks. They just got it, accepted it, and moved on. No issues.
He said he has never been so proud of former students as he was with this group. Not only were they successful and looking for ways to engage with us again, they were so accepting of me and my transition. He said it was a feel good moment, knowing that such things were really not an issue for this generation and it gave him hope for a better future from my community.
I felt good about it for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is that my students had fond memories of our time together. Second, that they were so okay with my transition, that is was so much not an issue. Last, that my colleague would be so in tune with how my community is being accepted (or not!!!) and that he recognized this as something really great, and wanted me to know that there is hope with the younger generation.
Some days you just bump into things that make you feel hopeful….