Mirzayi wins scholarship for LGBT work

By April DeJarlais

Chloe Mirzayi ’10 is working to make Macalester a better place for the LGBT community, and people are taking notice. Mirzayi was recently awarded two scholarships from the Philanthrofund Foundation, an organization that honors the efforts of those who promote the LGBT community. She has been heavily involved at Macalester as a member of Queer Union, a participant in Student Government and founder of the Thistle literary magazine as a first year.

During her time with MCSG, Mirzayi revitalized the campus gender-neutral restroom movement. The restrooms debuted this year in Kirk Hall, which is available to upperclassmen. Mirzayi is now focused on creating gender-neutral restrooms and living spaces for first years.

Her vehicle for such endeavors is the Task Force for Queer Positive Macalester, which met for the first time last Tuesday. The Task Force was born from a QU discussion last year centered around how Macalester could increase its LGBT friendliness. Mirzayi called the organization “action oriented and not theoretical,” and emphasized that the task force is geared toward political action and not just philosophical discussion.

Mirzayi has been speaking with Dean of Students Jim Hoppe as to how to improve Macalester’s official attitude on LGBT friendliness. She acknowledged that Macalester students are “incredibly friendly, but we don’t have the policy to back it up.”

Gender-neutral restrooms and dorms contribute to advancing gender neutrality on campus, but real change comes from the attitude of the people at the college, she explained.

“Gender neutrality means every person, regardless of background, has access to safe spaces,” Mirzayi said. “It’s for all students, not just LGBT [students.] It’s a cultural change.”

Mirzayi has set the stage for many potential improvements at Macalester, but will be “scaling back” her participation for her upcoming senior year, in hopes that more students will get involved with these causes. She believes the task force will be sustainable, but is not bent on being in charge.

Her focus for next year will be her RA duties in Turck and an honors project, which will focus on health care access in marginalized communities. The project will correspond with her National Gay and Lesbian Task Force summer internship.

Her step back from Macalester activities, such as her resignation from her post as MCSG vice president this fall, has prompted surprised questions from friends. But Mirzayi has learned the importance of being time-balaned and, subsequently, “mellowing out.”

Miryazi said her personal experiences with transexualism have sometimes felt “almost robotic or genderless”. Despite those feelings, she still feels like a normal college student, and has become more moderate rather than more liberal in her years at Macalester.

“I’m a typical girl.with a few exceptions,” she said.