Adapting to Those Being Served: Barbara Banner Undergraduate Service Scholars Project

This story uses the gender-neutral pronoun “singular they” to refer to Barbara Banner. For more information on gender-neutral pronouns, please visit http://nonbinary.org/wiki/Pronouns.

As a University Honors student applying to medical school, Bobbie Banner ’15 knew that they were interested in including medicine in their capstone. As an individual who identifies as agender (a term for a person whose gender identity is neither male nor female), they also knew that they wanted to focus on transgender and nonbinary issues.  There are many ways that a biomedical science major can use the University Honors program to further their interests, from research to leadership, but Bobbie was convinced that the Undergraduate Service Scholars (USS) could help them to reach out beyond their own personal gain and help the transgender and nonbinary community of College Station. The USS inspired Bobbie to team up with the Pride Community Center to found a project that would give useful information to anybody in the Bryan and College Station area who are either within the transgender and nonbinary community or want to better understand the subject.

Bobbie started the project, now entitled Talking Transgender in B/CS, thinking that they would focus mainly on the hard medical facts about transitioning that Bobbie could not find when they had started researching their gender identity. They expected to only give out information about hormone therapy and reassignment surgery, but meeting people in the LGBT community through the Pride Community Center soon changed the scope of their project. Bobbie found that there was a lack of basic information and easy accessibility to that knowledge within their circle. So instead of just medical information, the project was expanded to include more general facts like the terminology that is the most appropriate to use when talking about transgender and nonbinary issues and ways to get access to transgender healthcare.

This information was quickly gathered into a presentation, which can be given to any interested party, and shown to the Pride Community Center board. Bobbie then turned their attention to putting the information they gathered online and printing pamphlets that could be given out at Pride Community Center events. Bobbie has also taken up a position on the Pride Community Center board, and has been attending as many of the organization’s events as possible. This has allowed Bobbie to meet and learn from other organizations such as the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) and the   also to get input from transgender and nonbinary members, such as including insurance providers that would cover transitioning in Texas.

Bobbie has grown from the experiences they gained from their USS project. They have come to understand that the first iteration of a project may not be what will be the most helpful to those they want to serve. Before Bobbie changed their project, they had to learn how to incorporate the criticism that they got from the group they were trying to serve. And with those two lessons, Bobbie learned that adaptation and humility come hand in hand. Bobbie could not have adapted if they had not swallowed their pride and accepted that there are others that know better. Those that are being served know what would be the best service.

But that does not mean that Bobbie lost their self-confidence because of this project. In fact, the opposite is true. Seeing how much work they could do and gaining the support of individuals like them through the Pride Community center has made Bobbie feel more accomplishment in what they do than they have ever felt before. Seeing that they can spearhead their own efforts and work with others has been a positive experience they will never forget.

Now that their career as an undergraduate at Texas A&M is coming to a close, Bobbie plans on heading out to medical school. There they plan on working toward becoming an endocrinologist, with a special interest in hormone therapy for those members of the transgender and nonbinary community that wish to transition. Their experience with the Undergraduate Service Scholars has helped them solidify this goal, and Bobbie plans on continuing to spread transgender and nonbinary information wherever their medical career takes them.

For more information about the Undergraduate Service Scholars program, visit http://tx.ag/capstones or contact Dr. Suma Datta (sumad@tamu.edu).

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