Hello, my name is … Kyla Hines
The new assistant director of the LGBTQ Student Resource Center is ready to advocate and educate.
April 10, 2019
Kyla Hines joined Metropolitan State University of Denver this year as the assistant director of the LGBTQ Student Resource Center. The Colorado native shares her educational journey, the power of pronouns and why she has spoken out about the recent transgender military ban.
What’s your career path to this position at MSU Denver?
After pursuing zoology (and failing miserably because it wasn’t all about cuddling koalas), I earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Montana. I later realized what I actually liked was working one-on-one with people and making significant changes in their lives, so I pursued a graduate degree in rehabilitation counseling at Portland State University.
During that time, I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition. So, I did my internship in vocational rehabilitation, helping individuals with disabilities transition back into the workforce and working with kids in the juvenile-justice system who had experienced abuse, many of whom were LGBTQ. I entered private practice, where I worked at that intersection between sexuality and disability, and also taught psychology at Portland Community College and counseling at PSU. My partner and I met in Oregon, but we were both from Colorado, so we returned.
How do you identify yourself?
I am a cisgender female and use she/her/hers pronouns. I am bisexual and am currently in a heteronormative relationship. I also identify as a person with a disability. I knew I was bisexual when Mariah Carey posters took over my room. She was my first crush. I came out in college when I called my dad to tell him I was dating a girl.
Being hired here has been a second coming out for me professionally since I’ve heard people say, “They hired a straight person for the LGBTQ position?” It has given me the opportunity to talk about sexual orientation and use my privileged identities to have difficult conversations. The bisexual community hasn’t really been connected to LGBTQ, and I want to help others know bisexuals are awesome and can have healthy relationships.
Why are pronouns important?
Using someone’s correct pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them. It is a basic human right to be validated for how you identify yourself with use of the correct pronouns. When you don’t identify someone correctly, you perpetuate the isolation that person feels. So it’s a matter of human rights and safety.
What are your goals here at MSU Denver?
My goal is to raise the voices of the LGBTQ community and change how we talk about this center, which is open to all genders and all sexualities. My goal is that no one sees me but rather sees the LGBTQ Student Resource Center and the brilliance of the students who work here. The representation of the LGBTQ community is predominantly white. I have multiple identities of privilege that I want to use to do good work. I want to spend as little time in my office as possible because I want to be ingrained in the entire campus.
How do you feel about the transgender ban in the military?
Policies such as this are devastating for many students. They send the message that your identity makes you not important enough to do this work. There are still too many questions about the legislation, but it still sends a clear message to this community that they aren’t worthy to be a part of this country and serve in a capacity that is such an integral part of America.
Is there something that might surprise people about you?
I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was in college, but now I do triathlons – not well, but I complete them. I bought my first bike in Montana, and though I bought the wrong bike (way too small), I rode it home from the bike shop. That’s how I learned to ride. By the way, it’s much easier on a bike that fits.
Please note an earlier version of this article misquoted Hines' response with regard to representation within the LGBTQ community.
Language matters and errors in language cause real harm that increases the dehumanization of communities. I have the incredible privilege to have a platform on this campus and be given the space to have a voice and I am so deeply sorry for the harm that this error has caused. I want to use my platform and many privileged identities to dismantle systems of oppression on this campus and raise voices and rally behind those that are not given the same power and platforms that I have. I want to hear and bear witness to how this messaging created harm and how it affected you. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by my office so I can give you the space and time to process through this. - Kyla Hines