By MADELEINE SMITH, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER - Published: Friday, December 11, 2009
"Some Harvard students change concentrations,” Ezekiel O. Smith ’10 says. “I changed my concentration and my gender.”
After coming to Harvard as openly lesbian, Smith came out as transgender his junior year and has recently taken steps to further the transition. His refreshingly candid approach to talking about transgender, queer, and feminist issues has gained appreciation around Harvard’s campus among friends and strangers alike.
“He’s always been the courageous person to speak out and to make sure that his point is heard,” says Smith’s roommate Jia Hui Lee ’12. “It’s great because there are not many students who identify as trans at Harvard, so having him speak out and voice certain views is very, very important.”
Smith’s background further distinguishes him from his Harvard peers. “He’s from a cow ranch in Oklahoma, came out as trans, and is studying religion at Harvard,” says Eva B. Rosenberg ’10, Smith’s girlfriend. “There are a lot of contradictions about him in terms of where he came from.”
While working with the former Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (now the QSA), the Women’s Center, the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS), and the Trans Task Force, Smith has lent his own unique perspective to issues of queer and feminist activism relating to what he identifies as “sex-positive activism.”
“I see myself as part of a movement both on campus and in the larger sphere of society that says sex can be talked about,” Smith says. “We need to talk about sex and have a culture where it’s cool to talk about sex, how to have sex better, how to have sex differently, and how to be kinky.”
Such provocative comments shouldn’t be a surprise coming from a guy who works as a “consultant” on one of RUS’s most attention-grabbing events each spring. “I’m known as much for my gender as hocking dildos every year at the Female Orgasm Seminar,” Smith says with a laugh.
Along with the seminar, Smith has been instrumental in bringing members of the transgender community to Harvard and initiating change within the University to create a more welcoming environment for queer and transgender students and staff.....