In 2016, while assisting former Democratic Texas State Senator and current congressional candidate Wendy Davis in launching a nonprofit organization, Deeds Not Words, to engage young women in public and political discourse, Alicia Roth Weigel ’08 felt it was high time to reveal her true identity—as an intersex person.
“Wendy’s immense bravery in prior political acts ultimately inspired me to come out in front of the Texas Legislature, in order to help kill the discriminatory bathroom bill that would’ve forced individuals to use bathrooms that align with their biological sex. As I—alongside almost two percent of the world population—was born with a biological sex in between the binary we’re taught is more rigid than it truly is, I felt my voice was needed to point out how that particular bill was flawed,” Weigel says. “Coming out in such a public way thrust me into the limelight within the LGBTQIA+ movement and I’ve really embraced the increased ability to make change that visibility has afforded me.”
Weigel would go on to serve as Campaign Manager for Danielle Skidmore, the first openly transgender person to run for public office in Texas, before advocating for social innovation, human rights, and intersex youth, respectively, in her current roles as Director of Business Development at Notley, Commissioner of the City of Austin’s Human Rights Commission, and Advocacy Strategist at interACT.
“At Notley, I lead our national expansion in order to support equitable growth through our impact investing fund and philanthropic programming practice. As a Commissioner, I sit on a body responsible for drafting and enforcing legislation that protects residents from discrimination and hatred—like fair housing and hiring ordinances—and funneling community voices into human rights affirmations and protections within our city’s governance,” she explains. “At interACT, since I’m one of a few intersex people who’re formally integrated into our country’s political infrastructure, I focus my time on working within existing systems to improve the lives of intersex people like me.”
While Weigel, who volunteers her time and talent as Secretary of Austin Young Democrats, divulges that personal experiences with sexual assault and workplace harassment propelled her to fight for the rights of those facing similar situations, she says her service mentality dates back to her days as a Gator.
“Shipley fostered an intellectual curiosity that led me to want to understand different experiences beyond my own, which has directed so much of my work in communities unlike where I live or grew up,” she says. “Fostering this understanding of ‘others’—and the empathy that comes with it—is critical to reducing the intolerance we see growing across the country. Shipley can play a strong role in helping students avoid pathways toward hate.”