Transgender students speak out

Members of the SRU trans community express issues with policies

Published by Annabelle Chipps, Date: March 6, 2023
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SRU has implemented policies and initiatives to support transgender students. However, not every transgender student feels supported.

SRU implemented a gender-inclusive housing policy in 2018, but it is not housed on the initial housing page. The information can be found on the frequently asked questions link at the bottom of the page. 

The official Residence Life brochure does not include the policy. The only information regarding gender inclusivity in the 9-page document reads, “Gender-inclusive housing is available. Contact [h]ousing for information.” 

The policy itself is a 2-page document that describes the housing process for gender-diverse students. Transgender students are able to request placement in a traditional room or suite in any residence hall. They also have the option to request all-gender housing. 

There is no form attached to the policy. Students are instructed to either call SRU Housing and Residence Life, visit their office or email. 

Housing requests also have a deadline.

“Students requesting permission to live in an all-gender room or suite must do so prior to the forth coming academic year and as soon as possible, but no later than March 1,” the policy reads. 

A former SRU student, a transgender woman who wishes to remain anonymous, shared her experience with housing in SRU. 

“Whenever I applied, they asked for my gender,” she said. “I made it [clear] I identify as female and use she/her pronouns. They had my legal information, [and they] knew I was assigned male at birth, so they obviously knew I was transgender. [But] they did not [make] any attempts to see where I wanted to be housed.”

She added that SRU Housing did not offer any gender inclusive housing options and she ended up being housed with a man. But, she said, even if she knew about it, it was too late because of the deadline.

The former student initially applied for traditional housing, where there are no gender neutral showers.

“When I emailed them and said I wasn’t comfortable with this, they told me I basically had two options: deal with it, or pay [more] money for one of the suites,” she said. “[I] had to pay a couple extra hundred dollars just so I could shower safely.”

The student said this incident was “isolating” and “invalidating.”

“The reason they housed me with a man was because they see me as a man…[and] treat me like a man in their system,” she said.

The anonymous student proposed a section on housing applications where a resident could select “yes” or “no” to room with someone who is transgender. 

“Obviously, we live in a time where some cis[gender] women wouldn’t be comfortable rooming with a transwoman,” she said, “But they could just say on those forms if they are comfortable or not.” 

TRANSaction President Abbott Mattocks said SRU could also make information and resources more accessible.

“A lot of what we do in the club is provide resources,” Mattocks said. “People come to us and don’t know where to start with housing.”

Mattocks said he does appreciate how the university provides a list of gender neutral bathrooms and their locations on campus.

“I will give credit to the school,” Mattocks said. “There are a good amount [of gender neutral restrooms]. But, they’re still not in every building and they’re not always [convenient]. If the only all-gender restroom isn’t wheelchair accessible and that’s what you need, you don’t [have] that option anymore.” 

Nonbinary and gender-nonconforming students are especially vulnerable to discrimination from faculty and staff, Mattocks said.

Another student discussed a professor who will not use singular they/them pronouns because the professor claims it is grammatically incorrect.

“I’ve only had a few instances of a professor being [overtly] transphobic towards me, but I know other people it happened to [or] a professor told them that they’re not going to respect their pronouns,” Mattocks said. 

The transgender woman said after she completed the name change process, her dead name still appeared on the MySRU Student Portal.

“[Whenever] I applied, they asked for my preferred name but I guess it didn’t really matter,” she said. “[T]hey add those options when you apply [to not] turn away queer students…It’s just there to make it seem like they are fully accepting when…you have to go through all the processes yourself.”

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