03/22/2012 05:45 pm ET Updated May 22, 2012


The University of Puget Sound might be a small liberal arts college, but we carry a big message. The campus recently embraced an incredibly powerful exhibit: "T-Town Transgender Neighbors: A Portrait Exhibition." This exhibit shared personal experiences through first-person narratives, accompanied by portraits. The stories described early notions of gender incongruence, the process of coming out, and steps forward from that moment.

Have you ever thought about what it means to not have a gender-neutral restroom, to worry about how to approach college sports or how to explain to a professor or roommate that you are transitioning? Or what it means to wonder, "What box do I check: male or female?"

Student comments about this exhibit reflect the concern of our community:

"Beautiful and inspiring photos and stories. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and lives. You're a vital part of our Tacoma community."

"I am continually wowed at the strength of the trans community. It is strength to be proud of and to cultivate. I am an ally who would love to learn more about the amazing people who make up the trans community, their experiences and their stories. This exhibit was very thought-provoking. Thank you all for sharing!"

"I have friends who are transgender. This helped me understand them better."

"These individuals are to be commended for having the courage to come out. Some may have taken longer than they would have liked but by doing so they can serve as an inspiration for others who may be struggling within and help them to take steps earlier. We are all a part of this journey called life."

There are too many categories, too many divisions in our lives. Too many ways to discriminate based on differences, and so few ways to identify our similarities.

There should be just one box to check: the "human" box.