Who are we?
We are a support group for Transmasculine identified students at Michigan State University. This includes persons born or assigned female at birth and who feel that this is an inaccurate or incomplete description of who they are today. Some of us began to identify more as male, others as genderless, some are merely questioning their place in the gender galaxy, and so forth.
We also are aware that there are Transmasculine identified folks that do not have access to higher education. If you are a community youth (college-aged or younger) that seeks support, do not hesitate to contact us. If we can't help, we will try to find people and/or groups that can. Furthermore, if you are a college student somewhere other than Michigan State, where you have not been able to find other Transmasculine folks to build a support network with, drop us an email.
We also welcome significant others, friends, and allies interested in getting involved and getting educated.
So are you a fraternity then?
No, we're not. We are not affiliated in any way with any Greek organization or Greek life in general. The Greek letters Phi Tau Mu directly translate to FTM. We have chosen to use this name because one of our goals is to foster a sense of brotherhood between our members. A lot of times, FTMs are denied access to what most biological males take for granted - a connection and bond with other men.
Continuing with the fraternity theme, we needed to have a chapter title as well. As far as we know, we are the first campus organization to call ourselves Phi Tau Mu, so in turn we felt we deserved to refer to ourselves as the Alpha chapter. In looking at all our sources of oppression, repression, physical violence, intimidation, and ridicule, we felt that out of all them the primary source seemed to be the segment of the world population that is best described as Alpha-males (i.e. hypermasculine cisgender men). Therefore, giving ourselves the Alpha-Male chapter title was our way of renaming that source, and taking back some of the power that was taken from us.
What are some of your goals?
Besides fostering a sense of brotherhood as described above, Phi Tau Mu also strives to create a safe space for its members, so we may have a place to deal with the fear, anger, confusion, and helplessness that is thrust upon us in our daily realities. We seek to support each other through difficult times, empower each other to face our dangers, and be there to create positive images of ourselves for each other. With all the negative that is associated with being transgender, it is often incredibly difficult to see ourselves as role models for others, as leaders within our various communities, and as productive members of society.
We are also resolved in making sure the gender identity campaign is a successful one on our campus. The campaign aims at adding the term gender identity and/or expression to MSU's anti-discrimination policy. This will help to combat discrimination on campus based on gender stereotyping, and in fact helps all students, not just transgender and genderqueer folks. If you want to learn more about the GI campaign, drop us an email or come to one of our meetings. You can also check out our events.
Being a new group on campus, unlike any that has been in place before, we are also able to evolve as we go. This is a group that is built by its membership to benefit its membership and in turn is run in a non-hierarchical collaborative manner that seeks to lend input to all who want it.
When and where do you all meet?
Support and safety are among the top priorities for this group and its members. For that purpose we do not publicize the meeting locations and times of our support-focused meetings. The members of the organization communicate with each other to make those decisions based on our schedules and conveniences. The support meetings are only for transgender folks, and we ask that the greater community respect that.
If you are someone who is a transgender student at MSU or college-aged youth or younger, contact us and we will get in touch with you about the meetings. Other than meetings (which are more like informal get-togethers than actual meetings) we've tried to find time to socialize with each other on- and off-campus in a more fun setting.
Is there anything that cisgender folks can participate in?
Phi Tau Mu has two subsidiary groups that are open to everyone and meet on alternate weeks. The best way to stay connected and be aware of changes to meeting times and locations is to get on our listserv and get our emails (there aren't that many sent out so you won't get more than one or two emails a week, if that). The two subsidiaries of Phi Tau Mu are called TransAction and TransForm MSU. TransAction is, as the name implies, a more action-oriented meeting that is geared towards the ongoing Gender Identity campaign at MSU, while TransForm MSU is more educationally based and often involves open discussions around topics such as inclusion/exclusion in the LBG(T) community, Femme as identity or expression, Allies 201, etc.
The Spring Meeting Times are on Fridays at 7pm in Room 441 of the MSU Union. Any changes will be announced here.
Phi Tau Mu also sponsors numerous events during the year, including discussions and activities in an educational and social setting. The first one, a fish-bowl style discussion was conducted during National Coming Out Days of Fall 2004. The tremendous and unexpected success and reception that it received convinced us that MSU students and surrounding community members are more than ready to listen and talk about trans youth experiences and issues, directly from trans youth themselves. These events are open to everyone and publicly advertised. There are also other opportunities to get involved as allies.
During our first T-Party, the first officially PTM-sponsored event, the room we were in was packed beyond capacity and folks estimated more than 50 people who stayed there for 3 hours (2 more than originally planned) listening and asking questions.
How can I contact you?
The best way you can get in touch with us is to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to first talk to someone about our group that is not a member, you may also contact one of our advisors.