UT’s Gender and Sexuality Center is not an exclusive campus agency. It exists to “provide opportunities for all members of the UT Austin community to explore, organize and promote learning around issues of gender and sexuality” and “facilitate a greater responsiveness to the needs of women and the LGBTQ communities.” Both statements are accurate, as evident from their list of student resources and from their calendar of events. However, their resources often go unused by much of the campus population.
The GSC’s reigning slogan “Serving Women and LGBTQA Communities Since 2004,” often leads students to assume if they are not a part of either of these groups, they are unwelcome, or cannot benefit from their services. However, this isn’t true. The center has resources for all students regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
From brightly colored pamphlets and signs with resources and information on the second floor of the Student Activities Center to word of mouth from fellow students and organizations, resources are always visible. However, it is on us, students of all genders and of all sexualities, to actively pursue these resources in order to improve our mental and sexual health.
“The Gender and Sexuality Center is very accessible and open for everyone,” said marine and freshwater biology sophomore Izzy Willner, who is nonbinary and identifies as bisexual. “They’re a great place for resources about the LGBTQ community as well as a safe space and a place to make friends. They also have a place for LGBTQ counseling if you’re in a crisis.”
The Gender and Sexuality Center strives to build a safe community in which individuals have the free reign to speak on what they want, receive the help they may need, and find a new sense of self and importance. It provides mental health counseling through the phone and in person staff counseling. Anyone suffering from any spectrum of problems, such as gender issues, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, or transphobic incidents can talk to counselors and contact other agencies like the Counseling and Mental Health Center and Voices Against Violence.
These resources are valuable to students and benefit both physical and mental health. All students, regardless of gender or sexuality, should utilize the resources at the Gender and Sexuality Center. The Gender and Sexuality Center also offers resources and information for allies of both communities to see what they can do to help others or themselves. For example, the page offers suggestions to cisgender and heterosexual men who many not feel like they have a place in their respective communities.
“UT has resources that help those of us who aren’t cisgender and/or heterosexual,” said Ryan Karcher, a microbiology and infectious diseases biology junior, who is cisgender and identifies as gay. “For example, the Queer & Trans People of Color Agency is really great. They had an event recently with The Vixen, a drag queen who spoke on visibility and education. More events like these should be visible.”
Regardless of whatever resources a UT student requires, from LGBTQ mental health counseling to women’s health to ally in action resources, the Gender and Sexuality Center and similar organizations on campus are always available. Don’t let preconceived notions or fears cloud your judgment in getting the resources you might need. Reach out, take advantage and strengthen yourself
Mata is a psychology sophomore from Houston.