DePauw music professor speaks at Women's Center


Women's Center October Monthly Visitor Veronica Pejril
(left) talks to Sarah Ryan, director of the Women's Center. 

“Normally with an Ask Me Anything you can bare all without the social consequences, here I am baring all with the social consequences. You guys know me, you can come to my office,” said Wednesday’s Monthly Visitor at DePauw Women’s Center.

Monthly Visitor is a program set up and ran by the women’s center meant to give students and faculty a chance to interact outside of the classroom. This month, the faculty speaker was School of Music instructor Veronica Pejril. This month’s speaker is a mother, transsexual woman, composer and instructor come to mind.

Pejril came to teach at DePauw in 2006. Things were a little different for her then they are now. In initially coming to DePauw, Pejril was presenting male, as she was pre-transition. Pejril did her undergrad work at Indiana University within their experimental music program. In her work at IU she was able to win a fellowship at Princeton, where she did her graduate work. Pejril then met her future spouse, with whom she ran a business in downtown Chicago for seven years.

After the birth of her twin boys, Pejril elected to stay home with them until they were four years old. After returning to work, she even worked for a time at her children’s school. However at this point, Pejril had already started estrogen therapy.

“Presenting male during estrogen therapy was an interesting experience, it certainly required a few ace wraps,” she said, referring to her body’s changes.

For the first year at DePauw, Pejril continued to present male, but as her second year neared, she knew she wanted to begin to transition. During Winter Term of 2007, she boarded a plane headed to California to transition. This was the last time she would ever present male.

“My greatest fear was I would lose my gig here at DePauw,” Pejril said. “The HR [human resources] department here was amazing and helped me with how I was going to relay my transition to students and staff.”

From her research on faculty at DePauw, she soon learned that she was not the only one to transition while teaching. Pejril was, however the first one to deal with the legal implications that transitioning requires. When someone transitions, they have to legally change their name and gender on their identification and on all government documents. After the process was over, Pejril learned that a friend who worked in the court house gave a talk to the judge before on how this should be handled. “It’s really great, you find places in the most unlikely places” adds Pejril.

After her transition, Pejril found a new niche for herself within the Greencastle community.

“I think I evolved and came out of my second teenage hood. I found I became part of the community in ways I have never thought I would,” Pejril added. “I had fears that I would no longer be part of the community. I started to teach piano to kids and now I have eight students and teach them 30 minute lessons.”

Sitting and talking with Pejril proved to be an uplifting experience for some students. Freshmen Emily Koch said “Learning what it was like to go through the transition process was interesting and not what I expected. I thought it would change more than what it did. It was a very enlightening experience.”