Written by Sarah Calise, Archivist
It is with great sadness that the Albert Gore Research Center announces the passing of Aleshia Brevard, a great alumna of MTSU. She died at age 79 in her home in Scotts Valley, California on July 1. You can read a brief summary of her amazing life in The Advocate, and watch a portion of her oral history interview for The Brooks Fund here.
She attended MTSU in the mid-1960s to study theater. In her autobiography, The Woman I Was Not Born to Be: A Transsexual Journey, Brevard described her time at MTSU as a “wonderful respite,” where she felt “normal, secure, and accepted.” Although, she also explained that the administration was not always pleased with her image. She recalled being asked to come to the Dean of Women’s office to discuss her miniskirts, mesh stockings, and spiked heels. The dean told Brevard “We’re a conservative campus here, and…well, you’re just not.” Brevard scoffed at the dean’s remarks and refused to let such attitudes phase her.
She was a star at the university. Quite the popular student, her peers nominated her to run for the Miss MTSU title and Associated Student Body President, but she declined both offers. She tried to avoid too much attention, and believed the country was not ready for a transgender woman to be crowned Miss America. She was also named “Best Actress” by the theater program in 1967, her senior year, after playing the lead role in several productions. In her book, she discussed how Dorethe Tucker, MTSU’s Director of Theatre, became her first real role model. Tucker was the kind of woman Brevard wanted to emulate–“articulate, talented, and with a zest for life.” In the theater program, she “discovered that life choices do exist,” and that a better life was possible for her. It was at MTSU that she decided she could seriously pursue acting. Below are photographs and articles of Brevard from Sidelines and the Midlander yearbook. Aleshia Brevard left behind an incredible legacy filled with talent, activism, and an immense love for life.