Trans Day of Visibility: an update from Rowan Casey

Posted on March 28, 2024   by Microbiology Society

Last year, for Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV), we interviewed then Masters student, Rowan Casey, to find out some of the challenges facing trans and nonbinary people studying or working in science.

This year, we are catching up with Rowan, now a PhD student, to discuss some of the progress that has been made by the Society in the past year regarding inclusion for trans and nonbinary members.

Rowan Casey headshot
© Rowan Casey

Could you tell us about yourself?

My name is Rowan Casey and I am a PhD student at Cardiff University, UK. I am part of the Members Panel and the Early Career Forum Virus Division Representative.

My research investigates how chronic kidney disease patients have supressed adaptive immune responses to viruses and vaccines, and the mechanisms by which we can rescue these responses.

What is TDoV and why is it important?

TDoV is an international event envisioned to celebrate the lives and experiences of trans people, as a counterbalance to representation typically focused on transphobia and those that have sadly died. Personally, I feel that without TDoV, and events like it, we would miss our wider community. Additionally, it allows us to talk about issues which are not ‘extreme’ enough to be covered usually, but ultimately have a huge impact on our lives.

What are you doing for trans and nonbinary people at this year’s Annual Conference?

This year, we have arranged for the LGBTQ+ Networking Event to have a trans/nonbinary pre-meet. We want to address the under-representation of trans and nonbinary people in LGBTQ+ microbiology communities, by fostering a space dedicated to involving people in LGBTQ+ communities. I sincerely hope that with this, and future changes to Annual Conference, we will be able to create a more inclusive atmosphere and involve a greater number of trans and nonbinary people with our Society.

What else is the Society doing at Conference for trans and nonbinary people?

The largest change this year is the inclusion of pronouns on name badges. Whilst there was a space to add pronouns last year, people did not make widespread use of this, likely caught in the rush of Conference. To make it easier for people to share this with others, during registration people now have the option of adding pronouns to their badge, removing all the hassle. Additionally, as with last year, Annual Conference will have clearly signposted gender neutral toilets across the venue.

What would you like to see at Annual Conference in the future?

In microbiology, I adore that we have organisations like the Pride in Microbiology Network and The STEM Village, providing us with an LGBTQ+ community. However, I don’t always feel represented. In the upcoming years, I am passionate about getting more trans representation in LGBTQ+ microbiology communities. My challenge to the Microbiology Society, is to keep fostering LGBTQ+ communities and encourage greater engagement from trans and nonbinary microbiologists.

Elections for Society governance positions are now open. Why did you apply?

Personally, I applied for my position to give back to my microbiology community, who has done so much for me. Having my current position, I see the true benefits it brings; from designing events, to meeting a wide range of microbiologists – I would strongly recommend applying. It is such a fulfilling position to have. If you don’t feel you are ready to take that step, why not try the Council and Committees Shadowing Scheme?

On this Trans Day of Visibility, I would encourage you to think about the wonderful lives that trans and nonbinary have and be cognisant of how much further we have to go. Please do sign up to our Trans and Nonbinary pre-meet, and get involved with your microbiology community!

Thumbnail credit: iStock/nito100