Ph.D. candidate Kei Graves inspires us to value Transgender lives

As Transgender Day of Remembrance draws near, Ph.D. candidate Kei Graves reminds us to not only remember the lives lost in violence and hate but to value transgender lives.

“We must recognize that transgender lives have value,” Graves said. “The transgender community is made up of brilliant and brave people who are doing incredible things in all aspects of society and professions. Every day we face challenges but continue to battle systemic prejudice.”

Graves is an expert on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in education in Ohio. His life’s work started when he was a student affairs practitioner and academic advisor.

“I discovered the prejudice and bigotry students faced navigating the system while working with students of color and LGBTQ+ students. I charged myself to do everything within my power to change the education system and my community.

That revelation led to the design and implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (D.E.I.) strategic plans and organizing a grassroots ad hoc committee focused on improving access on campus for LGBTQ+ students, changing policies within human resources, and spreading awareness.”

He now works at the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio as the Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Programs for School and Youth, serving hundreds of clients, businesses, and organizations to aid in improving their D.E.I practice. He is a founding member and former president of LGBTQ+ Lorain County, a 501c3 nonprofit focused on making Lorain County more inclusive, welcoming, and educated about the LGBTQ+ community.

He is a graduate student at Union Institute & University in the Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Studies program, with a major in Educational Studies.

“I chose Union for its social justice curriculum, Educational Studies major and interdisciplinary approach. An interdisciplinary approach provides a broad breadth of knowledge and makes connections across fields of study to approach questions or challenges in the world. I also work full-time and had to have flexibility. In my opinion, Union offers the best hybrid program.”

His studies are already positively affecting his career.

“Being in a Ph.D. program solidifies my credentials. I receive respect as a scholar and educator in workshops, conferences, and my career.”

As Transgender Day of Remembrance honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence, Graves urges us to remember the challenges transgender people face.

“We face the challenge of acceptance in employment, housing, and by our families. We are murdered because of our gender identity. However, I also want this day to raise awareness of our value and the progress we are making for a just world.”

To learn more about Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit


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