The University of Victoria in British Columbia has announced a gift of $2 million from Chicago philanthropist Jennifer N. Pritzker to establish the world's first chair in transgender studies.
Awarded through the Tawani Foundation, which was founded and is funded by Pritzker, a transgender retired Army lieutenant colonel, the gift includes $1 million to support the chair for five years and $1 million to match contributions from other donors. Sociology professor Aaron Devor, former dean of the university's Faculty of Graduate Studies and the founder and academic director of its Transgender Archives — which contains more than a century of research collected from seventeen countries on five continents — will serve as inaugural chair. In that role, Devor will work with some of the world's top researchers and scholars, thought leaders, transgender community activists, and students to advance research into the lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and explore issues critical to them such as health care, poverty, discrimination, and suicide.
"Far too many trans and gender-nonconforming people still live in poverty and fear," said Devor. "As the inaugural chair, I will act as a resource locally and internationally for those needing information for their own research or for policy development, as well as building linkages between community-based and academic scholars working in transgender studies."
"The Chair in Transgender Studies sets UVic apart as a place that offers the highest-quality research and is also home to exceptional students, faculty, and staff who inspire bold action for positive impact on the lives of others," said university president Jamie Cassels. "I am proud of our campus community's commitment to diversity, as well as grateful to Dr. Devor, Lt.-Col. Pritzker, the Tawani Foundation, and all those who help us continually learn and grow in a welcoming environment that promotes the rights and affirms the dignity of all persons."