Rhetoric and Composition II
1 December 2014
Transgender Students on College and University Campuses Across America
According to a survey of 75 undergraduate and graduate students from 61 different college and universities across the United States zero students indicated that their college or university included gender identity or expression in its non-discrimination policy (McKinney). Transgender individuals are treated unfairly on college and university campuses. Most campuses have ways for the lesbian and gay students to feel safe but schools are often forgetting the 'T' in LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning). The value of this issue is that is affecting more people than ever before. Twenty years ago most people didn't think that transgender was a thing you could be or it was misinterpreted into a bad thing. Now that people understand it and they feel comfortable as identifying under that umbrella, they should be able to express themselves in a place where they pay a lot of money to attend.
Earlier this year the Huffington Post did a live video interview with four college students that identified as transgender. Jay Fondin a sophomore at George Washington University said “It's a very difficult environment to navigate because I find myself having to explain a lot of what trans is on daily and weekly interactions to live comfortably on campus. Like I said, it's not unfriendly but it's difficult because no one knows anything”.
Susan Marine, an assistant professor at Merrimack College, analyzes why transgender students are often forgotten on college and university campuses. “Because they were developed at a time when researchers' understanding of gender transition was not adequate, traditional student development theories (and the campus policies and practices emanating from them) may be less relevant for students whose gender identity does not conform to their biologically assigned sex or whose gender is in a state of transition. By virtue of their efforts to solidify and assert an internalized sense of gender identity that does not math the gender identity they were assigned at birth, transgender individuals are tasked with negotiating the process of college differently. They must approach all the typical development tasks such as determining a purpose and calling, defining themselves academically and vocationally, and developing meaningful interpersonal relationships while they are also establishing who they are and how they choose to both present and be perceived in terms of their gender identity” (Marine 64).
In Kristie Seelman's, an assistant professor at Georgia State University, article Recommendation of transgender students, staff, and faculty in the USA for improving college campuses she goes on to identify five themes that trans students have indicated are problems on their campuses. Number one is that campuses should offer education, campus programming, and support for trans individuals. “The first theme indicates that universities need to improve their ability to support transgender individuals be offering additional (1) trans-inclusive educational content, resources (e.g. library materials), and classroom curricula; (2) trans-inclusive campus programs and organizations; and (3) other forms of support for trans individuals (e.g. competent health and counseling providers, coverage of transition-related care through insurance, mentorship programs, and advertisement of allies and safe spaces). Such solution would help address two particular dimensions of institutional cisgenderism that are manifested in higher education systems — the privileging of cisgender identities, and the invisibility and isolation of trans and gender non-conforming people) (Seelman 623). A lot more could also be done to assist transgender individuals on college campuses.
Another option that college and university campuses could do to help the transgender community is to...
Cited: Carapezza, Kirk. "Mount Holyoke 's New Transgender Policy Redefines Women 's Education." Huffingtionpost.com. 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
"CBS News Poll: Transgender Kids and School Bathrooms." CBS News. 8 June 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
Marine, Susan B. Stonewall 's Legacy: Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Students in Higher Education. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley Periodicals, 2011. Print.
McKinney, Jeffrey. "On the Margins: A Study of the Experiences of Transgender College Students." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education 3.1 (2005): 63-75. Print.
Seelman, Kristie. "Recommendations of Transgender Students, Staff, and Faculty in the USA for Improving College Campuses." Gender & Education 26.6 (2014): 618-35. Print.
Todaro, Rob. "A Flawed Campus for Transgender Students." The GW Hatchet 3 Mar. 2014. Hatchet Publications. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
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