Hey, kids! It's Back to School™ time!!! Those words have the capability of striking fear in to the hearts of some LGBTQ youth…especially the T ones. For a lot of transkids, school is part of the cycle of abuse they experience as they grow older.
Campus Pride has prepared a list of the top 10 trans-friendly colleges and universities in the country based its Campus Pride Index.
These 10 colleges and universities have demonstrated their commitment to the trans community by implementing many trans-supportive policies, including adding “gender identity and/or expression” to their nondiscrimination policies; offering gender-inclusive bathrooms, locker rooms, and housing options; providing a means for trans students who have not legally changed their names or had gender confirmation surgeries to use a preferred name and to change the gender on campus records and documents; recognizing trans identities on campus forms; and covering hormones and surgeries for transitioning students as part of student health insurance.
I know…it's probably too late to change one's destination for this year, but not all is lost. There are some schools not on the list at which you can still be treated well.
The list favors well-known large, public 4 year colleges and universities in progressive areas of the country, so it is not surprisingly dominated by schools on the west coast and in the northeast. Smaller schools, like the one I teach at, may have monetary worries that preclude health care coverage in student insurance…or gender neutral housing…or gender-inclusive recreational facilities. Heck, we've been needing a new gym for the past 30+ years but it doesn't look like we'll be getting one soon.
In alphabetical order, the list includes:
5 stars (out of 5)
Ithaca is primarily a residential campus, so housing is a critical concern. Ithaca has an LGBT residence hall and a gender-inclusive housing option. Trans students are allowed to indicate what the best living situation would be for them and the college seeks to accommodate the request.
We want to make sure our trans and genderqueer students are able to fully access all the housing opportunities that all our students have, and avail themselves of all Ithaca College has to offer.
--Lis Maurer, director of LGBT center
Ithaca also has established a speech pathology clinic (free to staff, faculty, and students) to assist both MTF and FTM transpeople in transition alter their speaking patterns to more closely align with their target gender.
New York University
NYU has a student group for its trans students, called the T Party, hosts a Trans Awareness Week to call attention to the needs and experiences of transpeople and sponsors trans-focused social events like NY Drag U and the Gender Bender Ball.
There is a trans-specific webpage at their website: Trans@NYU.
NYU has been a leader in creating and offering accessible and supportive student health-care services for trans students.
In response to a student-generated proposal regarding gender neutral housing upperclass students will be able to form roommate groups without regard to gender beginning in Fall, 2013.
Princeton has become known for offering a lot of trans-specific programming and services. It has hosted the New Jersey statewide Transgender Day of Remembrance for more than a decade and there are ongoing collaborations between the LGBT Center and the statewide trans rights group.
Princeton's administration created a workshop to assist campus officers develop best practices in support of transgender students. The university has several faculty members (eg. Tey Meadow) whose teaching and research incorporates the experiences of transpeople and trans theory.
UCLA was among the first schools to offer coverage for hormones and surgeries for transitioning students under its student health insurance. The university has developed a process which makes it easy to access these benefits. More than a dozen students have benefitted from the coverage in the past three years.
UCLA has gender-inclusive athletic facilities and more than 120 gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus. The campus transgender and gender-nonconforming student group is currently working on a needs assessment to ensure that the population is being support as best possible.
UCLA is, of course, the home of the Williams Institute. And the LGBT Campus Resource Center is a department of Student Affairs which includes a transgender resource guide at their website.
University of California, Riverside
UCR is one of the country's most proactive colleges in educating its campus about transpeople. Through its LGBT Resource Center, UCR offers an ally training program specifically targeting trans issues, and the campus commemorates Transgender Remembrance Day with posters displayed around campus and id developing a poster project featuring important living transpeople with a focus on transpeople of color.
In 2005 UCR was the first US public college to offer gender-inclusive housing. In 2012 the college collaborated with eight other campuses to organize the county's first intercampus retreat for trans, genderqueer and gender questioning college students, building on an idea which began at UC-Irvine in 2011.
My partner attended UCR as an undergraduate and UCLA as a graduate student.
This is ironic, since the arch-hater of all things transgender, Janice Raymond, was a faculty member in Women's Studies here. But in five years the university has gone from having almost no trans-supportive policies to being at the forefront of trans-inclusion, including having a policy supporting the participation of trans students in campus sports. The campus LGBT center, called the Stonewall Center, maintains a resource guide of area trans-supportive service providers. Stonewall Center's director is transgender author Genny Beemyn, who is also a board member of the Transgender Law and Policy institute. UMass Amherst also is home to the country's first LGBT and ally residence hall, which will be 20 years old this fall.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Michigan was the first university to establish an LGBT office (1971) and is now a pioneer in transgender support. It was the first university to develop an easy process for students who want to use a name other than their legal first name on campus records (so their professors don't out them every time they call roll). Transgender students, faculty and staff are visibly out on campus, providing role-models for trans students and educating cis students.
It is important to have out trans-identified students, faculty, and staff. This shows that the university is truly committed to this population, and ultimately requires that the university and campus community be responsive to their needs.
--Jackie Simpson, director of the Spectrum Center
The university is also an institutional member
of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health
and offers a comprehensive gender services program and runs a support group for the Parents of Gender Nonconforming People
The University of Oregon (aka The University of California at Eugene).
My alma mater, grad school-wise. My cohort in grad school included at least two of us who eventually transitioned…though we were not out at the time (late 70s).
The University of Oregon reaches out to trans student with support without being only reactive.
Colleges have to lay the groundwork with policies, spaces, and community-building so that the environment is not a hostile space to folks who are differently gendered.
Offices can’t wait until trans students arrive to make it better.
--Chicora Martin, director of LGBT Education and Support Services
Without having to be asked, the rec center incorporated gender-inclusive locker rooms. Most buildings have gender-inclusive bathrooms and bathrooms which remain gendered will henceforward include signage directing people to the nearest inclusive ones.
Gender Equity Hall provides a gender-inclusive housing option and the University Counseling and Testing Center offers evaluation for hormone therapy and surgical procedures. Hormones are available through the student health center. As of 2010, surgical treatment for transgender students is not excluded from student health insurance coverage.
Oh, hey. I went to Penn for a year as well before having a breakdown after a crisis. Apparently if that would have happened now instead of then, my life might have gotten on track when I was much, much younger.
Any discussion of the very best schools for trans students would have to include Penn. Besides having all of the major trans-supportive policies and services in place, its LGBT Center has its own two-story building, a renovated 1870s carriage house. The center not only hosts LGBT events, but many other campus activities, which contributes to an environment where trans students do not feel marginalized. Unlike the situation at many campuses, identifying as trans at Penn is not a big deal and many cisgender people get it. Being an urban, Ivy League school means that faculty members tend to have a basic knowledge of trans identities or are willing to learn. In addition, Penn’s student health service has many trans-aware staff members who work to ensure that trans students receive quality health care, and they and other people at Penn can take advantage of the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, one of the country’s largest trans conferences.
The free conference is now in its 12th
The Penn Student Insurance Plan does cover some aspects of reassignment surgery.
University of Vermont
Vermont added "gender identity/expression" to its nondiscrimination policy seven years ago. Since then its LGBTQA Center has been teaching the university's staff about transpeople, resulting in a campus more knowledgable about trans issues than most. Meanwhile the students themselves have been offering the Translating Identity Conference, which has its 10th anniversary this fall.
The LGBTQA Center maintains a page for gender-variant and trans students. There is some gender neutral housing available. Although athletic facilities are not gender-inclusive, there is a single-user gender neutral restroom, changing room, and shower facility available for trans students.
The UVM insurance plan now includes services for Gender Reassignment Surgery and Gender Reassignment Therapy from a Network or non-Network Provider up to $75,000 per lifetime, subject to Coinsurance, Deductibles, Co-payments with certain requirements and limitations.