Issues transgender students face on campus

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For transgender and non-binary students, life on campus and almost anywhere can be difficult.

“I feel kind of safe, but it makes me nervous that there are people that would rather eradicate me and other trans people from this campus. Even when I’m minding my own business, I notice how people look at me weird,” Craig Gregg, psychology sophomore, said.

Although the university provides housing for 1,500 students including co-ed dorm buildings, transgender students living on campus find difficulty in the situation with most being forced to live in the apartments if they want validating housing.

Diana Snuggs, graphic design sophomore, said,  “The process to even get gender-affirming housing is kinda complicated and from what I can tell it only applies to people in the apartment so it kind of forces transgender students to pay more for housing compared to other students.”

A problem that transgender students face is correcting or informing others on their names and pronouns. Likewise, when in the classroom professors put students on the spot when they ask students to correct them if the name on the roll is wrong on the first few days of class.

“In larger classes, it’s more difficult, just because it’s very scary to like put yourself out there in front of so many people you don’t know. You just got to hope that you don’t get negative responses,” Snuggs said.

Additionally, transgender students can have serious issues with professors.

I had a professor that was very stern in his beliefs. He wouldn’t make any exceptions to make it a more comfortable space. I had him last year in chemistry and he was one specific person that I had trouble with. I just feel like I couldn’t be myself because he was very strong in his own beliefs,”  Snuggs said.

Most uncomfortable situations transgender students experience are classmates and peers being invalidating and transphobic right in front of them.

 

“There have been situations on campus where students have said basically transphobic things. I did have trouble in one of my classes about a month-and-a-half ago because the topic of trans issues came up and some dude started spouting some really transphobic stuff,” Psychology freshman Harley Angelino said. “It was really frustrating because I wanted to be able to speak up but I knew if I did it was just going to start an argument and it was just going to go downhill. My professor didn’t really say anything either I thought he was just really baffled that the kids were saying anything like that. However, a few weeks later he pulled me aside and apologized for not stepping in.”

Transgender students who identify as non-binary experience issues with the overabundance of binarily gendered sections of campus.

Our society as a whole has an issue with gendering things unnecessarily, but at MSU we have things like homecoming king and queen, man and woman of the year. I was nominated for Sophomore Woman of the Year last year, and I know at least one other nonbinary person who was nominated for one of those spots too, but it is so utterly unnecessary to gender the categories when you could just not do it. It feels to me like the people who make these decisions either don’t care about nonbinary students, or they don’t think that we’ll ever be nominated for these awards.” Paige Champagne, computer science junior, said.

Aspects of campus raise concerns with transgender students, such as the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus for those who do not identify with male or female.

Champagne said, “MSU should look at the things they have marked ‘male’ and ‘female’ and ask themselves if it is really necessary for those things to be marked that way. We really need some gender-neutral bathrooms on campus because I can’t begin to tell you how unfair it is. It seems we aren’t even an afterthought. Someone needs to oversee ideas that impact the student body and ask the question “what about those who aren’t male or female?”

Male-dominated fields such as computer science often create uncomfortable situations for transgender and non-binary students compared to other fields on campus.

“I know male-dominated fields create an uncomfortable atmosphere for trans students because I am in one and where I might have been uncomfortable as a woman, I am twice as uncomfortable as someone who is neither,” Champagne said. “Maybe I read too much into situations, or maybe entering male-dominated fields is like stepping back in time. There are fewer women and even less LGBT+ people, but they can feel the underlying air of hostility of men who have never had to face what they have, who have been handed everything but joke that the women are ‘discriminating against them’ when they have a women’s event. You can just tell that the men in Bolin are not as open-minded as the ones in Fain, and that’s why I’ll probably always feel more comfortable there than in my own major’s building.”

With all the corrections trans students make to inform their professors and classmates, it is still,  not only LGBTQ+ students’ responsibility to teach their peers, but a hassle to inform the people that will listen. However, students suggest a possible solution the university could do to help students.

Snuggs said, “I just feel like I like to inform people that want to know, but it’s hard to inform everyone. There are the people that will listen and there are some people that are defiant and don’t want to learn more. At that point, it just comes down to the school having a place to let the students know more, similar to how the freshman are required to do the Alcohol Safety training and also the consensual sex training. I feel like if the school gave one of those over diversity probably including LGBTQ + people and different cultures. Being in a really conservative part of the country in Texas, there’s not a lot of teaching and giving people an introduction of general knowledge would be really beneficial to everyone.”

Transgender students find the Mosaic Cross Cultural Center to be a place where they can be comfortable using their preferred name and pronouns.

Victoria Muñoz, the LGBTQA+ Students Taking Action in the Name of Diversity Council Coordinator, said, “Mosaic is an office that is all about helping students by providing them with as much support and resources as we can. We are also a very inclusive, diversity-based office so transgender and non-binary students will be respected and are always welcome. We are happy to work with them and find the resources they need. The Mosaic is a great place for students to come to with trans issues and we will definitely help them as much as we can. Often that might mean referring students to resources outside of the mosaic office, for example, counseling trans students.”

Gregg aid that If this campus ever hopes to be the best it can be, the university needs to understand what transgender students are going through.

“I love being me, I can be who I’ve always been without people calling me by a person I’ve never identified with, from names to pronouns to simply respecting me as a person,” Gregg said.

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