Joelle Ruby Ryan
Point Scholar 2007 – 2009
Joelle Ruby Ryan is the first male-to- female transgender person to be awarded a Point Scholarship. Joelle Ruby Ryan came of age about 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean in a small town in southern New Hampshire. Born into a working-class family, she received a scholarship to attend Phillips Exeter Academy as a day student and excelled in playing the clarinet and speaking foreign languages. While attending the University of New Hampshire, she came out her freshman year as a transgender woman and suffered familial disapproval, employment discrimination and frequent verbal assaults and physical threats. Experiencing such injustice firsthand emboldened her to become an activist on behalf of feminism, LGBT rights and anti-racism. Since then she has completed Masters Degrees in English and Women’s Studies and her Ph.D. in American Studies at Bowling Green State University (BGSU).
In addition to publishing a book of poems (Gender Quake) and producing a documentary film (TransAmazon), she also served as the first president of Transcendence, a trans/allied group at BGSU dedicated to social change and community building. A self-identified transgender warrior, Ryan plans to dedicate her future to teaching, engaged scholarship, and grass-roots activism. She stands proudly on the shoulders of her trans and queer ancestors and won’t be deterred until full victory is achieved.