Taylor Briggs (he/him) received his undergraduate degree in Multicultural and Gender Studies from California State University, Chico. After earning his BA, Taylor went on to earn an M.Ed. in Student Development Administration at Seattle University. Now, Taylor serves as the Scholarship Program Manager for the GSBA Scholarship and Education Fund which supports LGBTQ+ students pursuing post-secondary degrees. As a queer, transgender man, Taylor has firsthand experience in navigating inequitable systems that lack resources for queer and trans students. To uplift those who came after him, Taylor now aims to utilize his positional privilege to challenge traditional hierarchical power dynamics and center those most at the margins.
When you came out the first time, what made you feel safe to do so?
I came out during my second semester of college. By absolute chance, my roommate happened to identify as a lesbian. Having someone who was an out LGBTQ+ person who was in such close proximity to me for the first time ever was such a great opportunity for me to have a safe place to explore my identity. She was the first person that I ever told that I thought I might be interested in women and she was so kind and compassionate. She helped introduce me to other LGBTQ+ people at my college and I was able to find an amazing community where I finally had the freedom to explore my sexuality and gender.
How do you ally yourself with others who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community?
For me, allyship is a verb so it needs to include action. Part of my internal work includes educating myself about other identities within the LGBTQ+ community and unlearning biases that I have internalized. Even within the LGBTQ+ community there is a lot of bias and discrimination against people of color, bisexual people, trans people, and people with different abilities to name a few. So to be an ally to those communities that I am not a part of, I do a lot of listening to figure out how I can step up to disrupt various –isms. I also believe that as an ally I need to take a back seat to leaders within other communities who are going to be the best equipped to lead their own movements. I look to them for direction on how I can use my privilege to aid in their efforts.
How do you educate people about the LGBTQ+ community?
I lead a lot of trainings for various businesses and groups on how to create more trans-inclusive environments. These trainings often include some historical context, terminology, active ally scenarios and role play, and suggestions for policy reform within organizations.
How do you educate people about intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community?
As a white, transmasculine, able-bodied, full-time employed person, I think it is of the upmost importance for me to name those identities and how I am privileged by those identities. Many of my trans, POC, and disabled siblings are not as fortunate as I am and that is through no fault of their own, but is a reflection of a system that is not designed for them to succeed. I think by having more people in positions of power actually naming and interrogating their own privilege we begin to dispel the myth of meritocracy and take a deeper look at institutionalized –isms. The honest truth is that because of my privileged identities, my voice carries more weight so I need to speak loudly and unequivocally about how my identities have played a role in getting me to where I am today.
What resources would you recommend for LGBTQ+ youth who have questions?
In Seattle, I think that the Lambert House is an amazing resource to find community and explore identity. The GSBA Scholarship Fund and Pride Foundation also provide scholarships to LGBTQ and allied students to attend college. I also know that Planned Parenthood is doing a lot of work to rethink their sex education curriculum to include diverse bodies and relationships including LGBTQ folks. I know that there are more, but those are the first that come to mind.
What did you think your life was going to be like after high school?
When I was in high school I didn’t even know that I was queer or trans. I thought I was going to be a high school English teacher because I knew that I was good at school and I respected my teachers. Once I went to college and my world-view was so widely and rapidly expanded from the bubble that I had grown up in, my vision of what the future would hold began to change. My queerness and transness became much more salient identities for me and I knew that I wanted to work for and with my community specifically.
What tips would you have for people questioning their gender identity?
I think there is still a lot of pressure to name and claim one identity and have that be stagnant for the rest of your life. The reality is that gender identity and gender expression are so fluid. If you can, don’t give into pressure to figure out exactly who you are right away. Who I am today and how I understand my transness is completely different than who I knew myself to be 6 years ago when I first came out.
What tips would you have for people questioning their sexual orientation?
I know how scary and exciting it can be! When I first began questioning my sexuality I was terrified that I would lose family and friends as a result. And I did lose some people, but what I gained was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Learning more about yourself and surrounding yourself with people who encourage that exploration is such a gift. I am so thankful every day that I gave myself that gift!
How do you stay resilient in the face of negativity and stereotyping?
Therapy! And really good friends. I know that I could not face the negativity alone so I highly encourage finding people who make you feel less alone and drown out the noise.
What is your favorite piece of LGBTQ+ representation?
I just watched ‘A Secret Love’ on Netflix last night and bawled my eyes out. It is about two women who have been together since the 1940s. It was so beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking to see their love and how they were forced to hide it for so many years. It was also a great reminder of the resiliency of our community in the face of hatred. Queer people have always existed!
What are your hopes for the future of the LGBTQ+ community?
I hope that we keep asking questions. My favorite part about being queer is that we get to chuck the rulebook out the window and create something new. We get to invent what we want our relationships to look like and how we want to do gender. For centuries we have lived under the assumption that gender and relationships look a certain way but the reality is that those norms are all created by humans and we get to imagine something different and more inclusive if we want to. I am excited to see how the next generation continues to push boundaries.
Is there any advice you would give to the LGBTQ+ teens of today?
Learn your history. There are so many queer and trans elders who have done incredible work to advance the rights and acceptance of our community. Tap into them as resources and keep building a brighter future