The party went on well into the night and, by the end, the Auburn Gay-Straight Alliance hoped it had made its point.
“We feel that transgendered individuals need the same protections as the rest of us,” said Bryan Stisher of AGSA.
The second annual “What a Drag” event sought to bring attention to Auburn’s transgendered students who are currently not protected under Auburn’s non-discrimination policy.
“It was a huge effort by the entire organization,” said Katie Rowe, AGSA president. “We all just banded together and said let’s get this going.”
The night featured AGSA members and others dressed in drag performing musical numbers.
The performers took stage names including “Sir Walter Riley,” “Francesca Diamond” and “Butch Cassidy.”
The evening was meant to poke fun at the stereotypical ideas of gender roles AGSA feels the University administration is endorsing by excluding gender identity from the non-discrimination clause.
“It’s about expressing yourself,” said Braxton Tanner, an AGSA member. “It’s about getting others out of their comfort zone to get them to understand something. This breaks down the wall.”
Self-expression was a major theme of the evening, as performers “went for it” in every sense.
Perhaps producing the most head turns was the professional dancer “The Grand Duchess,” Cotaliya von Trapp. Trapp hip-hopped her way through songs, pulling off several splits that one attendee described as “epic.”
Trapp seeks to inspire a new perspective of entertainment through her performances.
“I want people to understand that entertainment is entertainment,” Trapp said. “No matter what race, or gender, or any other category, anyone can express themselves.”
While the performances were the highlight of the evening, AGSA also pushed the attendees to sign a petition they intend to deliver to President Jay Gogue and other administrators stating their case.
“We want to make an impact,” Rowe said. “This year we have a petition to show the higher-ups. They think if we already have sexual orientation protected, it’s enough. Unfortunately, it’s not.”
Auburn added sexual orientation to the policy in 2007 when AGSA and other like-minded organizations lobbied the administration.
However, the administration felt gender identity was not a necessary distinction to be addressed. AGSA feels otherwise.
Trapp has lived in the Auburn area for three years and recognizes that the culture on campus is not always friendly toward the LGBT community, particularly the transgendered population.