Our unique voices enable us to tell our stories, and the stories of others—allowing us to empower and educate. Alumna, Bianca Robinson M’18, is lifting her voice and encouraging others to do the same. She aims to heighten awareness of the contributions that members of the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities provide to society and the world at large. By doing so, she hopes to lower the barriers that people within these communities face—socially, economically, and professionally. Robinson is a fervent practitioner of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), is a diversity consultant, ally, advocate, and trans woman of the Latinx community. Now, she is also a Fire Starter Storyteller, and at this week’s Amplify Latinx Conference, she will deliver a three-minute, thought-provoking, and insightful speech—sure to ignite the audience.
Amplify will, “bring together Latinx leaders, community organizations, businesses and power-building groups from across Massachusetts to strengthen relationships and co-create a policy agenda that advances our collective prosperity.” Robinson was recognized by the Amplify community for the array of initiatives that she has undertaken. In July of 2019, she founded Massachusetts Trans Women Leadership (MTWL), which is “A collective of trans women leadership working to expand the visibility and voices of our community.” She founded MTWL because both she and other “trans women leaders in the greater Boston area have been noticing gaps, and a lack of representation in leadership.” They would like more communication regarding policies that involve their bodies, and “more organizations developing our leadership skills, to rise in their organizations.”
“I founded MTWL and invited trans women leaders, who I identified in my field and other sectors, as representing trans women within their communities.” Within the last year, members were hosted by Google to conduct one of their quarterly meetings. They held a community dinner for more than 25 trans women from the Boston area, and they presented at the First Event Conference. Robinson says, “We want to make folks more aware of what we’re doing and hone in on our mission moving forward. Our focus right now is highlighting the importance of housing.” They would like to see cities pass the Small Dwellings Ordinance, providing trans women more access to safe and affordable housing in the greater Boston area. They would also like to highlight the important work that the Transgender Emergency Fund is doing, by trying to secure a building to create a trans housing program.
Robinson’s Fire Starter speech “will inspire participants to get civically engaged, which is everything we do at Endicott.” Robinson reviewed three possible topics with Amplify’s Executive Director, Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, and they settled on the first topic she pitched.
Let’s count them down.
3) The third idea Robinson pitched focused on “highlighting the cultural contributions of the Latinx community to the world at large. This world is built on a system that favors and highlights cis-heterosexual people and stories ('cis' refers to a person whose sex, assigned at birth, and gender identity, align). Latinx and black queer folks have contributed so much to our culture. We don’t highlight their stories as much as we should in the Latinx community. We need to lift them up, and highlight them, because it enriches our own culture.”
2) The second topic she considered highlights the role that some trans people play in caring for their parents and seniors. Robinson explains that given stigmas associated with transgender people, it is challenging to find life partners. Many trans women grow to become the sole caretakers of their parents. “When we meet a trans woman, the last thing that we do is think they may be the caretaker of a family member, I think this is an extremely important aspect of how we support our communities; especially since family is at the center of Latinx identity. By supporting trans people, we are helping the members of our senior community, who depend on them, to survive and thrive.”
1) The first topic, and the topic that she will discuss as a Fire Starter, encourages cisgender women to stand up for transgender women. This initiative aims to improve the health and wellness of transgender and also cisgender people, by reducing the implications of HIV within their communities. She explains that “Some men and women are trained to reject LGBTQ+ issues and some perpetuate hate because of internalized transphobia." This creates "a more hostile environment for trans people". Consequently, she says, “We’re pushed into the shadows—with many implications to our well-being.” She continues to explain that while some men may hide their relationships with trans women, they “are indeed engaging in relationships with trans women—who already have a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections within their community—because of systemic marginalization. These men are more likely to be exposed to HIV, and continue to have relationships with ciswomen—and may spread it. Our health issues are the same health issues.”
Amplify’s mission is critical to the advancement of the Latinx community, and Endicott College is grateful for the opportunity to elevate this platform. Endicott’s Misselwood Events, in partnership with our Audio Visual department, will be hosting the conference—providing virtual support. Although the team typically hosts oceanfront events, Misselwood pivoted its delivery modalities and has begun to deliver moderated and supported Zoom sessions for a group of up to 250 participants. The team takes care of technology and audience questions and provides a moderator to view and manage the chat room, and a trained audiovisual technician will monitor security and handle simple issues. They also assist with planning and coordinating events.
Eileen Geyer, the Executive Director of Misselwood Events says, “While the Amplify Conference is a much larger platform than we are generally working with, Misselwood Events and Endicott College considered the importance of the conference an opportunity to promote the event’s mission, and committed our resources to ensure its success. I know I speak for myself and my team, when I say we are very excited to be a part of this event!”
Sendy Vaughn Suazo, the Community Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator for Endicott’s Van Loan School of Professional Studies is volunteering for the Amplify Conference, and made the connection. Suazo says, “Finding out that Misselwood had this entity was excellent. It is a wonderful opportunity for Endicott to work with the Latinx community.” Suazo is coordinating the event’s ambassadors, “ensuring that everything flows smoothly.”
Endicott is proud to be raising the voices of our Gulls. Robinson is on our Alumni Council, and is assisting with the DEI initiatives that the Council will be rolling out. She notes that, “The alumni population is a fantastic resource for Endicott to rise as a leader in diversity and I think it's underutilized.” She is looking into more ways to participate in the College’s clubs, and would like to facilitate a discussion within the community, by conducting a reading of White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.
Robinson also serves on the board of Fenway Health, “The mission of Fenway Health is to enhance the well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community and all people in our neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research and advocacy.”
Register now for Amplify Latinx to hear her speak and learn more about her initiatives and how you can be an ally and an advocate for people within the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities.
*Main/top photo: Via Ruby Wallau, Staff Photographer, Northeastern University
*Inset photo: Endicott College Alumni Council at Endicott College President, Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D.'s Post-Inauguration Dinner