Indiana State University Newsroom

Professor receives Community Partner of the Year award

April 22, 2015

Kand McQueen, associate professor of educational and school psychology in Indiana State University's Bayh College of Education, has received the National Association of Social Workers 2015 Region 6 Community Partner of the Year award.

McQueen was nominated by Jean Capler, vice president of the National Association of Social Workers-Indiana Chapter and longtime friend of McQueen. Capler wrote in a letter to the selection committee, "(McQueen) is passionate and tireless in his efforts to improve the lives of transgender people and to create space in the world for all people to live authentically."

Capler, who worked for a long time in private practice as a therapist and specialized in issues of transgenderism and gender identity, would refer individuals to McQueen's public talks.

"I'm not a social worker so it was really nice (to receive this award) to be recognized outside of my field," McQueen said.

During his talks, McQueen challenges audiences "to think about the dichotomous notion of sex and gender."

"I make the argument that it is really beyond the dichotomy. There are people who just don't fit that paradigm; and people who fall outside of those two binary categories are not historically treated well by society," he said. "It's all because, as a society, we have very stringent ideas about what it means to be a man or woman, and when people don't fall into that, some pretty horrible things can happen. That's why it's important for people to think about these things."

As faculty advisor to Spectrum (a student-led LGBT group), McQueen is a sounding board for students dealing with gender issues, as well as an educator to audiences that attend his presentations.

"For some people, just hearing me say these things out loud helps them know they're not alone," he said. "After my talks, people often come up to me and say that I've changed the way they think; nothing excites me more than to hear that."

Because of strict societal views on sex and gender, nobody gets a pass on these issues, McQueen said.

"We say things like, ‘Boys don't cry,' but yes they do. When we do that, we rob those boys of tools to deal with emotional distress; when we tell a girl to ‘... be a lady', we take away a piece of her strength, her fortitude," he said. "My goal is to challenge all of that and in the process, lead us to be more accepting of one another as human beings."

McQueen started doing talks during his second year of graduate school at Indiana University-Bloomington, where he graduated with his PhD in 2008.

"A friend who was teaching undergrads at the time and I were having a conversation about being transgendered, which I am," he said. "My friend immediately asked if I'd come talk to her class about it and I asked why. She said she was 50 years old and didn't even know any of this existed until she met me, and she didn't want that to happen to her students. I did the talk and it just snowballed."

McQueen, who is in his seventh year at Indiana State, started making presentations once a semester at Indiana University-Bloomington and eventually speaking doing conferences and other events.

"It's a real passion of mine and I love doing it," he said. "I do more and more talks all the time as these issues are much more in the open now. What helps with my presentations is that they are part personal story, part academic. It's proved to be a pretty effective combination because when I start telling my story, these issues cease being an abstract construct and it all becomes very real."

McQueen is also serving as narrator and one of the interviewees for a 30-minute television piece produced out of the Indiana University School of Public Health about health disparities among the transgender community. WTIU, the Public Broadcasting System member station at Indiana University, plans to air the piece in June.

Sharing his story wasn't easy in the beginning, McQueen admits, but it's something he feels called to do.

"I had lived my whole life in the closet and I wasn't willing to do it anymore," he said. "There's just something in me that has to speak this, so I've come out in a very public way to help others."

Contact: Kand McQueen, associate professor, department of communication disorders and counseling, school and educational psychology, Bayh College of Education, Indiana State University,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or


Story Highlights

Kand McQueen, associate professor of educational and school psychology in Indiana State University’s Bayh College of Education, has received the National Association of Social Workers 2015 Region 6 Community Partner of the Year award.

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