- General public
“Exploring Black Queer Joy (Even When it Feels Hopeless)” by Aurora Higgs
Aurora Higgs (she/they) is a Black queer visionary and activist from Richmond, Va. Aurora works as an equity consultant all around the world. Aurora transitioned in 2018 and uses her platform to promote justice and equity.
Aurora is the VP of Operations at HUMiN Inc, a Seattle-based Consultancy specializing in DEI and Management Consulting for Large Tech and Biopharma corporate clients. In 2019, Aurora founded Borealis Consulting RVA, where she works as a speaker, researcher, performer, and producer of media that elevates queer BIPOC voices. Higgs also was invited to assist Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William), in passing several pieces of legislation related to transgender rights in Virginia, including a bill to make transphobic discrimination by medical providers illegal.
Her work in the Richmond community has earned her several honors in recent years. Aurora was a featured honoree in Style Weekly’s 2019 Top 40 Under 40 Issue and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture’s Agents of Change Exhibit. The Advocate named Aurora a 2022 Champion of Pride from Around the US. And if you ever find yourself on MacArthur Ave in RVA, you can find a mural in honor of Aurora and her impact on the community.
Aurora believes her calling is to show up in spaces bravely and authentically, no matter the repercussions. Someone once said, “Show up so BIG in the room that it feels too small after you’ve left.” Aurora holds this mantra close to her heart as she creates space for her communities and herself.
About the Series
The first annual Women Studies colloquium was held March 22-24, 2000. With the support of the Alice McLellan Birney Women Studies Fund, the cross-disciplinary study area in Women, Gender, & Sexuality presents a colloquium each spring in connection with Women’s History Month. Since 2000, the WGSX Colloquium has become an established tradition at St. Mary’s College. This successful annual program has regularly drawn large audiences to events that have offered powerful interdisciplinary combinations of scholarly discourse and artistic expression (including film screenings, theatrical performances, and exhibitions) to discuss a topic critical to women’s lives.
This Year's Theme – Expanding Gender: Trans Experience and Actions
The 2023 Colloquium continues the program’s tradition of engaging with critical intellectual themes, this time focusing on transgender and gender non-conforming populations. In 2020, nearly 80 different anti-transgender legislatures were introduced. In 2021, that number nearly doubled with approximately 150 proposals. In 2022, activists identified about 280 bills currently filed to restrict transgender individuals’ access to healthcare, bathrooms, education, and athletics. Further, violence toward the transgender and gender-non-conforming community highlights intersectionality, with fatal violence disproportionately impacting transgender women of color. This year’s speakers will focus on the experiences and issues facing transgender and gender non-conforming individuals today.