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The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is thrilled to announce that graduating seniors G Ryan and Jamie Thompson are the 2018 recipients of the Feminist Practice Award, an honor that recognizes Women’s and Gender Studies majors or minors whose work in community service or social action best exemplifies the application of feminist thought to practice.
A double major in Women’s and Gender Studies and English, with a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology, G Ryan is a dedicated student and community member who demonstrates a deep commitment to feminist praxis. G is a four-time NCAA All-American swimmer, graduating with honors, and has worked as an advocate for diversity and, in particular, trans athletes.
As an out and open non-binary athlete, G has challenged the University and national athletic organizations to recognize, support, and empower trans students who participate in sports. They have worked to create gender inclusive spaces in University buildings, writing and speaking publicly about their experiences as an athlete. As a consultant to the Athletic Department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, G has worked to improve and increase support for students from a wide variety of backgrounds. This is a tremendous legacy that will continue long after G has graduated. Beyond the University of Michigan, G has worked with the national governing body USA Swimming to create structures that make visible and better support trans youth. This work, too, provides an inspiring legacy for future athletes. As a scholar, G has completed a honors thesis entitled “Is Everyone Queer Now?: A Linguistic Investigation into the Reclamation of the Word Queer: in which they argue that the word and identity of “queer” challenges and complicates the idea of an LGBTQ community, often fracturing it between sexuality and gender identities.
The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is proud to honor G Ryan’s thoughtful, directed, and effective activism on behalf of students and athletes with this award.
A double major in Gender & Health and Psychology, with a minor in Community Action and Social Change, Jamie’s extensive organizing and leadership shows her commitment to feminist praxis. Jamie co-founded and is a lead organizer for Students4Justice, a student organization founded on the principles of Black Feminist practice, anti-racist organizing, and restorative and transformative justice. Jamie also co-founded University of Michigan chapter of Zeta Omega Eta, the first national feminist sorority, and has served as a representative for Central Student Government. In her first year as a CSG representative, she co-authored a resolution granting low-income students free university healthcare and was honored with the MLK Spirit Award. This year, she co-authored the UM Divest resolution, calling on the university to divest from companies who are involved in Palestinian human rights violations, which passed last fall.
Jamie’s passion for and commitment to justice also extends well beyond the U of M campus. After learning more about the school-to-prison pipeline and prison abolition in one of her Women’s and Gender Studies classes, Jamie went on to complete an internship at the American Friends Service Committee, advocating for incarcerated women at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. After graduation, she will be an elementary teacher in Detroit through Teach for America, while pursuing master’s degrees in Educational Studies and Social Work at the University of Michigan. In the words of one her nominators, “Jamie has created spaces and policies for others to feel safe on this campus and in the greater world. Her work will remain relevant after she leaves the University, and we are forever indebted to her for her service.”