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Veronica Pejril portrait outdoors


Leaders the World Needs

is a regular feature of DePauw Magazine, which is published three times a year.

Veronica Pejril readily admits she started it.

Her 2019 opponent for the Greencastle City Council’s Third Ward seat had told her “I don’t care how you live” and “I’m not going to make an issue out of that in the election.”

“I said, ‘well, I’m glad that you don’t think it ought to be an issue in this election because I’m not making an issue of it either,’” she recalled. “The fact that I happen to be a transgender woman is irrespective of my ability to serve and lead in our community. It’s neither an attribute that necessarily makes me a better leader or not, right? It’s just part of who I am. It’s like my shoe size.”

But then, Pejril, who is DePauw’s director of Faculty Instructional Technology Support, coordinator of the Music Instructional Technology Center and an adjunct assistant professor of music, became aware of her opponent’s “hateful,” islamophobic social media posts. “My heart was telling me that I can’t, in good conscience, let that go unseen,” she said, so she publicized the posts and braced for what she knew was coming.

In no time flat, she was “deadnamed” – that is, “somebody calls out a transitioned, transgender person’s former name to dehumanize them or to have them be seen as something other than what they represent themselves to be.” Transphobic social media posts followed.

So why would Pejril expose herself to that? “I needed to bring light to them and point out that these are not the values that we hold to represent the city of Greencastle and the spirit of Greencastle,” she said. What’s more, “I’ve developed some thick skin over the years … I’ve had some tough times in my life; I don’t want to discount that. That was one of the weirder ones, but definitely not the toughest.”

Pejril’s campaign “tried to uplift my own work for the community, my background, what I brought to the table, where my values stand as far as valuing education and community and being a good neighbor.” She won in a landslide, becoming the first transgender elected official in Indiana.

Though most duties of her first year in office have been conducted virtually, she said she has been pleased to find that “the labels that often divide folks on the national level are not represented in our city politic and that’s a great thing. We generally vote with consensus that crosses party line. …

“It’s just a pleasure and a joy to work with every one of these folks.”



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