Universities were built as genderist, white supremacist institutions to support a white, cis-gender, male elite (Bilodeau, 2009; Nicolazzo, 2015; Wilder, 2014). The persistent reproduction of this system lends itself to continuing oppression of trans identified people on college campuses in all areas of the university (Beemyn, 2015; Jourian, Simmons, & Devaney, 2015; Nicolazzo & Marine, 2015). This truth remains despite current attempts to apply patchwork solutions, including legal and policy protections (Spade, 2011), to the trans “problem” (DuBois, 1994). Indeed, trans students, faculty, staff, and administrators thrive and survive higher education institutions despite the policies and systems that aim to oppress and marginalize them, and even those that are supposed to protect them.
Cracking the foundation upon which universities are built is not an easy task; the approach must be multi-pronged and systemically deep. For example, while some non-discrimination legislative bills state that discrimination against individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ is illegal, most do not change the environment that negatively affects LGBTQ+ people and particularly trans people of color (Spade, 2011; see appendix for more discussion). Additionally, we must think more holistically about who is trans on college Developmental Pathways to Trans Inclusion on College Campuses 2 campuses and attend to eradicating marginalization and oppression across the university. As an example, institutional genderism and cissexism through omission and erasure of visibility leads to practices of discrimination against faculty, staff, and students. Such is the case when faculty departments and tenure committees do not consider anti-trans discrimination, or when trans faculty members are outright denied tenure despite strong tenure applications (Sears, 2002). Many faculty members hide their gender identity (63%) to avoid discrimination resulting in dehumanization and an inability to fully engage in the university community. We all, as college student educators, must work toward justice in systems that aim to maintain the privilege of some and the marginalization of others. This document is one way we hope to support that move toward justice.
One final note: Through this document we use the word “trans” instead of “trans*” or “trans* and gender non-conforming/GNC.” Our use of trans includes all trans people and anybody who identifies as any sex or gender other than or in addition to the one they were assigned at birth (this includes identifying as multiple genders or no gender at all). For more information, please visit Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER) at http://www.transstudent.org/asterisk.
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