GSA is Here to Stay: Mattie Guilliams strives to revitalize LB’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance

Mattie Guilliams directs GSA meeting.

Mattie Guilliams’ quiet leadership permeated the Gender and Sexuality Alliance meeting — as quiet as it could be for someone with such a vibrant personality.

Dharma Mirza is a former leader at the GSA and is close friends with Guilliams, the current GSA president.

Mattie is fun loving, comedic, and very real, but she also can be there for the tougher subjects and has helped me personally in my own struggles and getting my life on track,” said Mirza.

GSA faculty advisor Tim Black is another on the long list of those she works with that appreciates her personality.

“I do know that I see her walking onto campus often, and she’s generally in a great mood,” said Black.

Guilliams was born and raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina, about two hours southwest of Raleigh, North Carolina. She comes from a long line of Marines and she herself served in the Air Force.

“I did six years as an aircraft radar mechanic in the Air Force… I got out in 2014 due to my knee being wrecked from being a mechanic and also to get out from under “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that I could transition,” said Guilliams.

She spends time caring for her mother, whom she lives with in Albany.

“I have been taking care of my mom since about roughly 2010, due to her being physically disabled, very physically disabled, and her losing her house to foreclosure,” said Guilliams.

Guilliams explained her long road to transition.

“I started HRT (hormone replacement therapy), I started transitioning in approximately October of [2014]. I am a transgender woman, my pronouns are she/her and I originally went up to Washington state as soon as I got out of the military.”

Guilliams described her initial involvement at LBCC and the GSA, which she has been a member of for over a year.

“I was looking for a sense of community. Even in Washington state, I felt like I was the lone trans woman. Seriously, as prideful as Washington state was, I was very isolated, for lack of a better word,” said Guilliams.

Only a few weeks ago, Guilliams took over as the GSA president, although she hadn’t planned on stepping into a leadership role.

“The GSA always had a kind of rocky structure system, and was reliant mostly on Ceph and Dharma to do things and they graduated-slash-moved on from LB,” said Guilliams. “Nobody stepped up to take the leadership and I saw that as a grave injustice to the queer community here on campus.”

Guilliams clearly indicated her belief in the importance of the GSA as a motivating factor in her decision to volunteer as a leader.

“I’m going to throw myself into trying and revitalize the GSA because it’s a community that needs to be here,” said Guilliams.

Guilliams work ethic is well known throughout the GSA and queer community on campus.

“I’ve known Mattie for about two years. Her work ethic is great, and she’s very committed to rebuilding the GSA,” said Black.

Those around Guilliams are inspired by her ability to communicate and translate her experiences into valuable counsel.

“Mattie is a positive force for social progress at LBCC and beyond. She not only works hard to educate herself and others, she does so in a very inclusive non-intimidating manner,” said Mirza. “Mattie has overcome so much stigma and discrimination and I feel it’s just made her a determined, passionate, burgeoning leader on campus and beyond.”

Story and Photo by K.Rmbo