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Queer transgender activist leads workshop on environmental justice at Hendricks Chapel

Kiran Ramsey | Digital Design

A transgender queer activist spoke Wednesday night at Syracuse University.

Global capitalism is the single greatest threat to basic human rights, said Evan Greer, a queer transgender activist.

Greer on Wednesday led a workshop titled “Queer Liberation and Environmental Justice.” Greer is a touring songwriter and the campaign director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights nonprofit. About 20 students gathered in the Noble Room at Hendricks Chapel on Wednesday evening for the workshop, which was organized by Syracuse University’s LGBT Resource Center.

Greer discussed the history of the environmental justice movement and how it personally affected her as a relief worker in New Orleans and a street medic in Scotland.

“We tend to think of environmental issues as lofty, but when you start looking at this family that was torn apart or a child who lost their parents by environmental disasters, it makes it a lot more real,” Greer said.

Later, Greer identified what she said are three essential steps an individual should take to start a successful campaign. First, highlight the root causes of the problem; second, identify the causes behind the problem; and third, connect the dots and start a movement.

She used the examples of queer opposition and environmental justice to do a group brainstorming session, which resulted in blurring the lines between the two topics.

Students had positive reactions to the exercise, with many saying that the brainstorming allowed them to connect concepts that seemed initially unrelated.

“I felt this was a really enlightening experience with information that a lot of people should know,” said Wren Wilson, a freshman at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “If you get the opportunity to educate yourself on things like this, you should take that advantage.”

Greer said she always felt drawn to social activism, even as a child.

“Over time, I’ve come to learn about so many experiences that are outside my own and that, in many ways, I am privileged despite being transgender and outside the box,” Greer said. “I guess I can’t sleep at night if I don’t feel that I’m a part of something that’s trying to change that.”

Jes Norman, an assistant in SU’s LGBT Resource Center, said the event was successful and that participants got a lot out of it, especially because, she said, social justice is a continuous learning process.

Greer said she believes that despite environmental problems and queer community oppression, society is moving in a positive direction.

“It’s amazing to see the movements that are springing up now and how quickly they grow,” Greer said. “I think the Black Lives Matter movement is absolutely revolutionary because it’s empowering so many different people to become leaders.”

The workshop ended with Greer singing songs from her albums about the environment and being a part of the transgender and queer communities.

“The world as we know it is not gonna last forever,” Greer sang. “And these could be the last days so let’s spend them together, and let’s never surrender.”

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