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A Warm Welcome

Special lecturer Charin Davenport finds a new home at Oakland University

Charin Davenport, special lecturer in Oakland University's Writing and Rhetoric Department and a transgender rights advocate, stands looking out a window.

Charin Davenport is a special lecturer in Oakland University's Writing and Rhetoric Department and a transgender rights advocate.

Out on campus

icon of a calendarJune 6, 2017

icon of a pencilBy Emell Derra Adolphus

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Four years ago, Charin Davenport's future in higher education seemed bleak. She worked at a Michigan university as a part- time administrative professional and an adjunct professor of English for six years. But after coming out as a transgender woman, her roles were reduced, and she resigned.

"I had to leave," says Davenport, leaving behind friends and family when she relocated to metro Detroit. "At that moment, I was pretty scared. I didn't know what was going to happen to me."

Davenport was more than qualified as an educator. But many employers did not understand why she, on principle, left her previous position, she says. Her job search continued for nearly two years before a friend referred her to Oakland University. After the first interview, Davenport remembers, she knew she had found a safe space where she could be accepted.

"I don't remember how exactly the conversation went, but I felt (they) should know my situation. And (they) said, 'Yea, we know all about that "Char" and we're really glad that you're here,'" she says. "It validated me in so many ways. It affirmed me. I owe OU a lot for hiring people like that. So I knew I was in a safe place."

This summer, Davenport will serve on the National LGBTQ Task Force where she will assist with LGBT cultural competency trainings on a national level and address how to create safe educational spaces like OU, which was recently ranked as one of the state's top LGBTQ-inclusive campuses.

Above all, after her first semester as a special lecturer in OU's Writing and Rhetoric Department, Davenport says she is just happy to be back doing what she loves.

She adds, "In fact, I'm smiling right now just talking about it."

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