Why AQ needs to be more trans inclusive

Story by Emma Ramirez, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Bustle

Across the U.S., we’ve reached what TIME magazine dubbed the “Transgender Tipping Point.” Transgender celebrities are praised for powerful performances. Individuals articulate themselves with new, evolving labels. Singular “they” was declared Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionary. Our generation has been at the forefront of this change.

But problems still abound, especially at Aquinas.

Every day, trans and gender nonconforming students at our own college are forced to go by a name on that doesn’t match who they are. This was true for me—I’d have to deal with telling people my name was Emma, only for them to question it when they saw my student ID, or hoping professors wouldn’t check the course connect roster. Colleges like GVSU have preferred name policies that are an advantage to not only trans, but international students, or students who may not be comfortable with their given name for whatever reason. Students should have a preferred name option that will save them the embarrassment of revealing their original name in class.

Every day, trans and gender nonconforming students are stuck choosing between two similar rooms with different signage. Using the bathroom that corresponds with your gender is a right that is being argued, and in some districts, even prohibited. AQ could remedy do this by ensuring that we have gender neutral facilities, especially in areas where walking all the way to a unisex single-stall isn’t easy. Likewise, there needs to be a move towards recognize that students can and do feel uncomfortable when forced to room with other students who might be the same sex, but not the same gender.

These two suggestions are nothing radical, and they are not impossible to implement. They are the start, not the end goal, of a move towards making this campus more inclusive.

There should be nothing controversial about inclusion and acceptance. As a school rooted in the Dominican tradition, inclusion is a value that we all share. It should not be an argument of someone’s morality, but rather, how we can be more accommodating for any student who has ever felt marginalized.

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