The Camp 10 – TK Morton

TK Morton. Photo courtesy of Alex Mancini

Is that spring I smell in the air?? And NCAA basketball?? Okay, so I don’t expect my favorite team to advance very far this year, but that’s all right. This month, I decided to focus on a person at the University of Kansas who is working all sorts of magic! TK Morton came to Lawrence to work as the coordinator for the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity at KU. Ze is doing so much good work with our queer student body by planning events, creating a safe space, and being a constant role model! Thank you for all that you do, TK!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is exactly the halfway point between Detroit, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois.

TK Morton. Photo courtesy of TK Morton

How did you come to be in Lawrence?

I came to Lawrence for a job that I took at the University of Kansas as the coordinator at the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. I was working in higher education at a small, private Catholic college in Madison, Wisconsin, and realized that I wanted to solely do queer work. I also felt very isolated in Madison as well. So, I started applying for jobs, and I found my current role. I really came to Lawrence to help grow the queer work that has already been done in Lawrence and expand it, especially, with so many queer and trans folks coming from small towns in middle America needing that support.

What do you think of it all so far?

I think it is going well! I am still trying to find my own path living in this community and hopefully I can become more involved soon.

Tell me about your position at the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity.

I am the new coordinator for the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. What that entails is that I am the main person who works with students on the ground. I plan all the programs coming out of our office, providing students of various intersections support.

What do you hope to accomplish in your first year at KU?

I’m hoping to truly be able to help my students thrive and to be able to find my own community. Also, not trying to burn myself out.

That people think LGBTQ folks don’t exist and that there isn’t work happening. I came here to not only continue the work before me, but to push more than staying in the status quo, because staying where we are, we will never be free.

What are some of the biggest issues that you see surrounding sexuality and gender diversity at KU?

That people think LGBTQ folks don’t exist and that there isn’t work happening. I came here to not only continue the work before me, but to push more than staying in the status quo, because staying where we are, we will never be free.

What can faculty and staff do to make KU a more affirming environment?

Do the work! For folks who want to do more than make it affirming, make it just. People need to be held accountable, and we need to make sure that we are seriously protecting the folks who are at the margins of the margins. Do research! Educate others! Being in a small office, we can only do so much; this is a collaborative effort.

TK Morton. Photo courtesy of TK Morton

You use the gender-neutral pronouns of ze/zir/zirs. Can you please explain why it’s so important to honor a person’s pronouns?

Because it is a part of my identity. It is like if someone who identifies as a man is referred to as “she” constantly, correcting people, and people completely ignoring them. That is why pronouns are important; you are invalidating my identity.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like to travel, go to craft breweries, hang out with my mom, pet all the cats and dogs, [and] hang out with my chosen family.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you like to go and why?

Hmmm, that’s a good question… I really would like to go to so many places. For now, I would like to go to Ethiopia, not only for the experience, but to connect more with a friend who is close to me, seeing more of her roots.