Student Voices: Henrietta Campbell
Henri's field experience at the Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG)
Henrietta (“Henri”) Campbell (HRTS ’16) interned with Saint Louis’ Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) to fulfill their Human Rights Field Experience requirement. The most sincere reward Henri gained from working with this organization was the personal impact that they were able to make on individual people and within the community. The basis of MTUG is advocacy, awareness, and support by transgender people and for transgender people. Henri thought that working and having dialogue with individuals who put their energy into investing in the Saint Louis community was amazing. They felt more connected to the community and its progress, as well as the progress of the building this important human rights organization.
Saint Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group served as Henri’s bridge to human rights issues as they relate to transgender people. The human rights that Henri tweeted about for the organization included Trans rights, including issues of identity and safety. Additionally, Henri tweeted to advocate for queer people, people of color, and queer struggles or liberations in other countries. MTUG is the only organization to work with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU) and produce a “Guide to Legal Rights for Transgender Missourians.” MTUG is also the first and only organization in this country to raise and dedicate a Transgender Memorial Garden, located near the Grove, which is the queer heartbeat of Saint Louis.
The reason Henri chose to do their field experience at MTUG is because of its sense of community. When Henri was first learning about MTUG, they were not sure about how they could get involved. But because one of the board members was a friend of Henri’s (and a Webster graduate), the personal connection to the organization drew Henri to inquire about ways that they could possibly intern or do more for them. MTUG is a local organization that is non-profit, which was another perk. Working for corporate companies is one reality, but the grassroots feel of this organization helped to paint the bigger picture of community investment for Henri. “Through every event that MTUG does, from having clothing swaps for Trans and gender-nonconforming people to building a community garden to share sacred space for valuable Trans lives, they are reinvigorating everyone’s spirit and pride for Saint Louis,” said Henri.
MTUG advocates visibly within the community. For instance, advocates turned their attention to the Hillsboro High School when transphobia was directed toward Lila Perry. The organization made a public statement at an advocacy rally, acknowledging their diversity trainings and encouraging all to come to the table if they would truly like to learn and have dialogue with the community because “we are here.” Supporting Lila, engaging with the community to co-sponsor events, making a new Transgender Geek movie about Trans + Technology, and even just holding support meetings all made MTUG the organization of Henri’s choice.
As an intern at MTUG, Henri was tasked with many responsibilities. For example, Henri helped created “buzz” for events by creating a short, informative, engaging tweet at least once a day. Tips that Henri learned were: make sure to use graphics or media in the post, include links, use a hashtag to help optimization, post in the earlier part of the day to increase viewers in total, and retweet! Other organizations, especially local ones, were quick to retweet or like MTUG’s tweets, especially if MTUG had recently promoted an event for them, or if we were hosting a pretty spectacular event. On days where much may not be happening at MTUG, they would signal boost funding efforts, education, and related events. The Internet made sharing events and information much easier. Henri’s job was presenting the information in a way that was interesting enough to make others engage and absorb it. According to Henri, the greatest value of interning with MTUG was realizing that this advocacy and educational work could translate into a profession. Initially, Henri was indecisive about graduate school; they were preparing to take on social media management or something similar to spread awareness and education. MTUG’s diversity trainings and Henri’s presentation at the UMSL Transgender Spectrum Conference made Henri realize that they are, like others in their family, an educator. Although Henri is not interested in being a professor, they are currently educating others via social media, hosting current events, and having honest conversations. Henri has decided to pursue a graduate degree in Diversity Studies, most likely under a title of Human Resources. With this degree, Henri would be able to implement programs and lessons to cultivate understanding and build communities within organizations. Henri believes they could be the bridge between social media and the community, which is what they felt like they were doing with MTUG.
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