W. Meredith Bacon

Profile By: Jacquelyn Anderson

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The First Tentative Steps

Meredith finished her doctorate in 1975 and did her post-doctorate at the Hoover Institution. It was during this time that UNO was hiring a scholar in Soviet Politics, one of only three jobs in that academic specialty listed that year. In 1976, UNO hired Bacon. Lynne eventually secured a position at Creighton Prep teaching French and Spanish. For more than 36 years, Bacon has taught at UNO, including serving as Department Chair. While the position allowed her to focus much of her energy on her career and being a “grind,” she continued to struggle with the part of herself that she could not openly express.

In 1996, Meredith was so depressed that she was hardly able to get out of bed. The gravity of the situation became apparent when she was unable to attend a wedding in Moldova with Lynne. When Lynne returned to Nebraska from Moldova, she intervened, taking Meredith to a mental health specialist. The therapist was only the second person, the first being Lynne, who Meredith told about living in the wrong body. This therapist prescribed anti-depressants as well as hormone therapy. Meredith asked the therapist for some advice on how to be more involved in the transgender community while maintaining her identity as Professor Wally Bacon. They decided that research was the best way to go about this. So, Meredith did a survey at her first Southern Comfort Conference in 2003 about family relationships and politics and whether transgender identity predisposed people toward participation or non-participation. Looking back on her first Southern Comfort Conference, Meredith said, “It was obvious that after about the first day that I was home, that that was my community. Those were people with whom I could best relate” (Bacon). It was also at her first Southern Comfort Conference that she met Mara Keisling, who was a prominent transgender political leader in the United States and had just founded the National Center of Transgender Equality. Meredith became a board member and co- chair on the Board of Directors in 2006. In 2009, Meredith started to experience health problems, which limited her activities. “I was taken by this sort of chance encounter in Southern Comfort 2003 and became fairly prominent in national transgender politics. Not because I wanted to exactly but because it was what it was. I started to go all the way around the country talking about transgender politics as the result of the survey” (Bacon).

Figure 3 Prominent transgender advocate

 

 

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Meredith Emerges

It was in 2004 that Meredith went back to the Southern Comfort Conference. She understood that everyone else there was going to be who he or she was, but she still felt the need to present herself as Professor Wally Bacon. However, she also bought a woman’s business suit and makeup Read More > >