What are EQUAL’s (or any other groups you’re involved in) aims as far as helping transgender students be successful at Colorado College?
For the Queer Community Coalition (QCC), I know that November is Transgender Awareness month, and they are planning something. To be honest, I don’t know what. My schedule keeps me from participating in QCC. Just like any other student here, the block plan and my other obligations keep me really busy.
I’ve also heard some rumors about more insurance coverage for transgender specific health care, at least for faculty because they are covered directly by CC’s insurance. However, I don’t know any specifics, or if Boettcher Health Center and the administration plans to extend some of those options to students. I would really like it if I had actual information or resources about this. I want to know what my options are.
I can’t speak for EQUAL’s intentions, as I’m not part of the leadership for that group. Honestly, I don’t know if they have any goals towards helping transgender students in particular. I haven’t noticed any directed, specific support—it is more of a generalized group that aims to help and bring together queer students in general. I’ve personally felt very supported there. It’s a great place.
What are the challenges of being transgendered or gender queer at CC?
Do you think gender issues are a big problem at CC?
There are definitely challenges to being transgender at CC. There are challenges to being transgender everywhere. I’m not widely out for exactly that reason.
It’s easy if you are cisgender to just not… notice, or care about, transphobia. Let me ask you this: have you ever heard the word tr*nny? He-she? Have you ever used those words? Because I’ve sure heard them. I’ve heard them everywhere. Every time you make a joke about ‘chicks with dicks’, think about how your words impact trans people. I hear those insults over and over and over again. I’ve heard them at CC.
‘You’re not real. You’re just confused. Why the fuck is that faggot wearing a dress?’ If we hear these words, these transphobic misogynistic statements all the time, we think that everyone thinks that. That it’s all right to think that. And words aren’t the worst of it.
– Transgender inmates are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted (Jenness et al., 2007).
– LGBTQ youth, including transgender teens, make up an estimated 20-40% of overall homeless youth, far more than the estimated percentage of LGBTQ identified people in the general population.
– In 2012, 53.8 percent of anti-LGBTQ hate crime homicides reported were transgender women. According to the Transgender Day of Remembrance group, there have been 85 murders of transgender people in the USA in just the last five years. And these are just the reported cases.
– Transgender people are twice as likely to live under the poverty line. Transgender people of color are four times as likely.
These statistics are just some of many showing the massive discrimination and hatred for trans people.
Although right now I’m obviously not at risk for being assaulted in a correctional facility, I could be assaulted on the street. It happens to many of us. Islan Nettles was killed across from a police station when she was beaten to death. Sasha Fleischman’s skirt was set on fire while she slept on a bus. Cemia Acoff was stabbed and misgendered by the media after her body was discovered. There is an epidemic of anti-trans violence raging in the world.
This is what I think about at night. Other kids here might think about their grades or their girlfriend. I think, “Will my parents kick me out if I come out? Will I be called a slur tomorrow? Will I be murdered someday by a bigot who doesn’t think I’m a human being?” The odds are not in my favor.
At CC, just like everywhere else, there is transphobia. Just because we’re a liberal arts college doesn’t excuse us from our mistakes, nor should it. So think about it.
– Think about your words. Think about pronouns, both yours and someone else’s. First, ask what pronouns someone uses. If you get them wrong, apologize and do better next time.
– Examine what you think about transgender people, and how the reality diverges drastically from the stereotypes. Know the facts. Ask a trans person, or go online. Educate yourself.
– What is masculine? What is feminine? And why are those categories important?
– Have you ever questioned your gender, really thought about it? Maybe you should.
In terms of problems I experience here specifically, one issue is that people just don’t know. They don’t know about my gender identity personally, they don’t know about the discrimination that transgender people experience, and they never even think to ask. Since I don’t have the money, I can’t get the hormones I want or dress the way I would like. My CC ID shows a face that feels wrong, a body that feels wrong. I’m afraid to be out about my gender or sexuality on campus because I don’t know the reactions I will get. I hear transphobia and sexism directed towards other people on campus, and I’m afraid to confront it or experience it more myself.
As Laverne Cox said at the 2014 Creating Change conference, “when a trans woman is called a man that is an act of violence.” Cisgender people don’t understand that when you get called the wrong pronouns, it hurts. It hurts because they don’t see you as the person you really are, it hurts because it disregards your gender, it hurts like an insult. A barb. Getting misgendered is one surefire way to hurt me, and unfortunately that’s what happens most of the time.
In many ways, I am myself here. I can express my interests and share them with others. I can take the classes I’ve always wanted to take. I can watch movies with friends and talk about the world. But what I can’t do here, at least right now, is come out. And there’s something really sad about that.