How to Support Transgender Students on Your Campus

Supporting Transgender Students on Campus

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 16 February 2016 |

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support transgender studentsIn 2014, the Department of Education issued guidance on how Title IX protects transgender students from discrimination. But before this, higher education campuses all over the country were already making significant efforts to be more inclusive to transgender students.

For example, Smith College, an all female school, recently changed its admission policy to accept transgender women applicants.

Also, in 2013, Duke’s health insurance provider agreed to provide $50,000 worth of coverage to transgender students for gender confirmation surgery. In fact, there are 37 colleges and universities that cover hormones and gender confirmation surgeries for students.

So if you want to know how you can support transgender students on your campus, we’ve pulled together some information for you that should help.

1. Make Support a Part of Policy

The first thing your campus can do to show support is to develop a trans-supportive policy that recognizes and respects a student’s gender identity. Also, “gender identity and expression” should be included in your school’s anti-discrimination policy.

You can also provide training on gender sensitivity to students so they understand the policies and can learn how to interact respectfully with transgender students.

2. Expand Gender Options on Applications

The software platforms used for college applications generally only allow two options for students to identify their gender: male or female. But the Chronicle for Higher Education points out that universities such as the University of California system can expand those option to include transgender men, transgender women, genderqueer/gender nonconforming and different identity.

3. Implement Gender Neutral Restrooms

Gender neutral restrooms allow students who identify as transgender to use the bathroom without fear of harassment or violence. The University of Vermont implemented several gender-neutral, single-user, lockable restrooms on its campus. The university points out that these restrooms have additional benefits too:

  • women no longer have to wait in line when the women’s room is full and the men’s room is empty
  • disabled people who have attendants of a different gender than them don’t face the awkwardness of gender-segregated bathrooms

The university even provides an app that has the location of these gender neutral restrooms.

4. Develop Sports Policies

For sports policies to be more inclusive, Lambda Legal suggests universities should “develop policies that allow transgender students to participate in single-sex sports in accordance with their gender identity.”

The point out that the University of Massachusetts Amherst currently has an inclusive policy that states, “"When an activity makes gender designation, individuals may participate in the activity based on their gender identity. If an individual's gender identity does not fit within the binary framework of man/woman or the person is in the process of transitioning to a different gender, participation in a particular gender designated activity will be handled on a case by case basis."

5. Accommodate Housing Requests

Ithaca College, identified as one of the most transgender-friendly colleges by the Advocate, offers an LGBT residence hall community and a gender-inclusive housing option.  The college also instituted a special housing process. Transgender students can indicate their preferred living situation, and the college will do it’s best to accommodate their request.

Conclusion

Making support a policy, expanding gender sections on applications, implementing gender neutral restrooms, encouraging participation in sports, and accommodating housing requests are five of the ways your campus can support its transgender students. But to truly support them, you need to make the long-term commitment to continuing improvement.

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