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Hero of the Week Award: March 1, Phi Alpha Tau Fraternity at Emerson College

1 Mar
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for pointing me to this week’s heartwarming HWA. The brothers of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity at Emerson College have demonstrated compassion, inclusion, and activism in a true call for social justice.

Donnie Collins is a new pledge to the fraternity. He is transgender, born biologically female. (Before attending Emerson, he went to an all-girls boarding school…) Unable to use his family’s insurance to cover hormone therapy, he has covered all the costs out-of-pocket. Sadly, Emerson’s student insurance is also trans-unfriendly, as most insurers are. Collins is also interested in beginning transition surgery, which is cost-prohibitive.

Enter his fraternity. It’s impressive enough that they were smart and open-minded enough to embrace Donnie, given the gross discrimination that the trans community faces. On top of this, they started an online campaign to raise money for Collins’ surgery. They want to use this opportunity to educate the public on the health care dilemmas faced by men like Donnie Collins. Three cheers for Phi Alpha Tau!

Honorable mention goes to all the groups and individuals who have filed amicus briefs in the two marriage equality cases rising before the Supreme Court. The deadline was yesterday, and dozens of these friend-of-the-court documents have been filed in favor of overturning DOMA and California’s Prop 8. The White House has filed briefs in both cases; dozens of companies have filed a shared brief — ironically taking advantage of Citizens United language — to demonstrate the toll on business morale and effectiveness that discrimination causes. Many politicians and public figures from both major parties have also joined the chorus. Amicus briefs seldom turn the tide, but they do contribute to the Court’s decision making. Let’s hope all this effort helps ensure justice for all.

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