Laura Erickson-Schroth Geisel ’08 quoted regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s Transition

Beyond Caitlyn Jenner’s Glamorous Vanity Fair Debut: Psychiatry Expert Dissects Her Transition

Read the full article online on The Wrap’s website

“I can imagine there are certainly positives and negatives to coming out in that kind of spotlight,” Columbia University LGBT health and public psychiatry fellow Laura Erickson-Schroth tells TheWrap.

Since the public debut of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair, the transition of the person formerly known as Bruce Jenner has been covered from a myriad of angles — one outlet even dove deep and identified the source of the lingerie that Jenner wore for the cover shoot.

But missing from much of that coverage is an explanation of the mental process that Jenner — and, for that matter, any given person undergoing transition — is going through. In an effort to understand Caitlyn’s emotional journey, TheWrap spoke to Laura Erickson-Schroth, an LGBT health and public psychiatry fellow with Columbia University, as well as the editor of “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community.”

Surprisingly, and perhaps contrary to public belief, there are no therapy or counseling requirements for people undergoing gender transitions, Erickson-Schroth explained, though there are general guidelines that include recommendations for such. And while it was once common for people undergoing transitions to be encouraged to have a “real-life experience” — that is, dressing as the gender they were transitioning to — before undergoing any physical changes, that practice is falling out of favor, Erickson-Schroth said.

“They could be targeted, they could be harassed, things like that, if they were dressing differently without having made any physical changes,” Erickson-Schroth noted.

Nonetheless, she said, some form of psychiatric support is often helpful. “In a lot of circumstances, it’s really beneficial to people to understand what they’re going to go through and how their lives might change,” Erickson-Schroth noted. “Certainly, I think it’s very helpful for people to be able to have a place to think and talk about their transition.”

Only Caitlyn Jenner knows for sure how much therapy she has or hasn’t had. And as Erickson-Schroth noted, Jenner, a former Olympian and reality TV star, is transitioning under circumstances far different from those surrounding most trans people. Those differences could be a blessing, a curse, or both for Jenner.

On the plus side, Erickson-Schroth noted, Jenner is coming to the transition in a better financial situation than many. “She doesn’t necessarily represent the experiences of the majority of trans people. I think many are middle or lower class; they’re people of color; they don’t have access to necessarily good mental health care, hormones, surgeries — the kind of things that Caitlyn might have access to, being someone who’s wealthy,” Erickson-Schroth said.

There’s also the fact that Jenner is transitioning under the glare of a tremendous spotlight that includes not just the Vanity Fair shoot, but a widely watched “20/20” interview, the E! show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” another upcoming E! show that will center on Jenner, a new Twitter account that quickly amassed more than 1 million followers, and countless headlines, tabloid or otherwise.

“I can imagine there are certainly positives and negatives to coming out in that kind of spotlight,” Erickson-Schroth said.
The massive microscope that Jenner is transitioning under could serve to exacerbate any hiccups she encounters during the transition, she cautioned.

“If people go through any particular difficulties when they’re transitioning, to have that broadcast to the entire world seems like it would be something that could be pretty hard,” Erickson-Schroth said, stressing: “There are going to be ups and downs. To have that on display all the time I could see as being a really hard experience to go through.”

There’s also the matter of age — Jenner is 65 — which also provides its benefits and drawbacks.

“I’ve talked to people who’ve transitioned later in life, and a lot of people have a lot of regret about not having done it earlier, and what kind of lives they could have had,” Erickson-Schroth noted. “But some of the positives that people talk about are, for example, being financially stable. That was something that helped them to transition more comfortably or the way that they would like to.”

Despite the unique hurdles that Jenner faces, Erickson-Schroth said that her journey appears to have gotten off on the right foot. “I don’t know that I can give her any advice in particular. Everyone has their own experience, and everyone has to go through things at their own pace and in their own way, and it sounds like she is,” Erickson-Schroth said.

Friendfactor, Dartmouth Run Non-Profit for LGBTQ Allies, Launches Fundraising Competition

Joanne Sprague ’04 and Chris Pearson Smith T’13 lead the non-profit Friendfactor to activate LGBT allies in business schools and workplaces across the country. Last week they launched a fundraising competition for alumni and Dartmouth is in the lead! Learn more about the program and become a supporter today:



Help us make business schools a great place to be for all students!

Friendfactor’s 3rd annual MBA Ally Challenge is in full swing, with 23 top US business schools competing to engage as many students as possible as allies to make their MBA programs great environments for their LGBT classmates.

To support the sustainability of the MBA Ally Challenge in 2015 and beyond, we’re inviting students, alumni, and friends to get in on the fun. Between now and Dec 31, 2014, you can contribute to Friendfactor on behalf of the school you love (or another group you feel close to), and have the chance to win prizes and props in addition to supporting your school’s commitment to equality. Details are below. Thank you for your commitment to activating allies for LGBT equality and creating spaces where every person can be proud of who they are!


There are two ways you can get involved:

  1. Donate on behalf of the school you love by clicking “Donate to a fundraiser” above and choosing your school from the Team dropdown list. You can also choose the “Unaffiliated” team.
  2. Set up your own group fundraising page by clicking “Set up your fundraiser”, and see if you and your friends or colleagues can beat out the best MBA programs in the country.

You can also invite your fellow alums and friends to join you in contributing to support your school or group. Just send them the direct URL link to your fundraising group page and that group will get credit for the donations you bring in!


To thank you and your friends for helping support the sustainability of this program, we’re giving out a number of perks for individual and group contributors:


  • Most Funds Raised: Free 10-person table at the Friendfactor Ally Challenge Awards Dinner in October, and honored on stage with an award for your group’s support. Click here for the rules.
  • Most Donors Contributing: A profile of your school or group’s work to engage allies for LGBT equality on the Friendfactor blog, and honored on stage at the Ally Challenge Awards Dinner for your group’s support. Click here for the rules.
  • Any school that hits its group goal of $6,000: Designation on the Friendfactor website as a “Pay It Forward” School whose alumni and supporter community has shown its commitment to building a culture of equality. Click here for the rules.


  • $1,000 or More Contributed: Membership in the Friendfactor Founders Circle, which includes your name, photo and story on the Friendfactor website, two 50% discounted tickets to the Awards Dinner, and regular insider updates on how the competitions are going. Click here for the rules.
  • $500 or More: One 50% discounted ticket to the Awards Dinner, and a free Friendfactor t-shirt.Click here for the rules.
  • $250 or More: A free Friendfactor t-shirt. Click here for the rules.
  • $100 or More: Your name on the Friendfactor wall of supporters. Click here for the rules.

IvyQ Conference Considers Sexual and Gender Diversity

IvyQ Conference Considers Sexual and Gender Diversity – via Dartmouth Now 
Posted on November 20, 2014 by Kelly Sundberg Seaman
IvyQ 2014 brought several hundred LGBTQIA+ students from the eight Ivy League schools and beyond to campus Nov. 6-9.“The IvyQ Conference brought together a critical mass of LGBTQIA+ students from Dartmouth and peer institutions for the explicit purpose of critically engaging with LGBTQIA+ knowledge and praxis,” says Reese Kelly, director of the Center for Gender and Student Engagement (CGSE), which provided an administrative home for the conference. Kelly is also interim director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. (LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay/genderqueer, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, and ally/asexual.)Reese Kelly, director of the Center for Gender and Student Engagement and interim director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, gives the opening address at IvyQ 2014, held at Dartmouth Nov. 7-9. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Reese Kelly, director of the Center for Gender and Student Engagement and interim director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, gives the opening address at IvyQ 2014, held at Dartmouth Nov. 6-9. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

The annual conference, which has previously been held at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Brown, Yale, and Princeton, offers a mix of workshops, forums, speeches, and events with educational, social, and networking goals. It was planned and organized by a team of Dartmouth students, who handled everything from funding to logistics to hospitality. Attendees included students from the University of Oxford, RPI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Middlebury, Stanford, and Duke in addition to the Ivies.

“Student leaders, professional educators, performers, and advocates offered lectures, workshops, and discussions that empowered and challenged conference attendees,” says Kelly. “Due to generous support from the college and corporate sponsors, the Dartmouth IvyQ schedule boasted prominent voices on the national scene including Denice Frohman, Kim Katrin and Tiq Milan, Mara Kiesling, and the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington.”

“As the CGSE, we are honored to have had the opportunity to support this endeavor, to engage student leaders in the process of conference organizing and community development, and to encourage critical reflection around topics of gender and sexuality,” says Kelly.

Michelle Hector, CGSE associate director, says, “Towards the end of the conference I overheard two Dartmouth students discussing how different the campus felt. They said something that students constantly reiterated throughout the conference: having so many LGBTQIA+ students on campus felt good. That made me so happy and proud of our students.”

IvyQ student chair Kelsey Weimer ’16 has received positive feedback about the conference from attendees and from “both institutional and student LGBTQIA leaders.” Dartmouth’s campus “really opened up and welcomed attendees,” she says, including 121 Dartmouth students who hosted guests. And, she says, “ideologically, the conference is progressing well, and is built to be up to speed with important social movements within the queer community.”

“We spent over six months planning this conference, and while there were struggles along the way, the planning committee went above and beyond to make the conference a success. We had amazing keynotes, informative workshops, and fun social events,” says team member Yeja Dunn ’16.

The Rev. Nancy Vogele ’85, director of Religious and Spiritual Life at the Tucker Foundation, was one of several Dartmouth community members on the conference program. Hosting the IvyQ conference this year was important for three reasons, she says.

“First, it allowed our LGBTQIA students to create and be a part of a larger LGBTQIA community. Dartmouth students loved meeting their peers from other institutions,” Vogele says. Also, she says,  “a great deal of intellectual learning, debate, and networking happened. One student from Princeton took part in my workshop to get ideas for his senior thesis. Over 30 students attended a workshop given by Ethan Falleur ’16 on “What the Bible Says about Homosexuality” in order to learn in more detail from where and why opposition continues.” And finally, says Vogele, “hosting the IvyQ allowed the entire campus to think about issues of sexuality, justice, inclusion, and acceptance.”

“I think Dartmouth can benefit in a lot of ways from IvyQ,” says the conference’s finance chair. “It expands the minds of Dartmouth students to see the diversity of people out there and to learn to be less scared of them. It also helps Dartmouth as an institution by showing the visiting students and, by extension, the rest of the collegiate community that Dartmouth simply is not the scary, wild place that so many make it out to be. By ensuring this conference was funded, I hope we’ve made a difference in the lives of the attendees. IvyQ is a really unique opportunity for people to find lots of others with similar experiences and see the resources available to them.”

Original Article Posted via Dartmouth Now: