Transitioning to New York is hard, but transitioning genders while transitioning to New York is even harder. LGBT History Month is observed in October, and it serves to celebrate as well as open up the conversation for the LGBTQ community. However, while the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities receive more attention during this month, the transgender community is often overlooked — and not just during October.
The NYU T-Party is a campus group for trans and gender-nonconforming students that seeks to bring awareness to and alleviate issues the community faces at the university. The group has a number of initiatives it plans to launch this year to make trans students feel more included on campus.
“It’s vital to note that racism, misogyny, ableism and classism are all issues that directly affect many in the trans community,” T-Party said in an email. “T-Party is specifically looking to address how the ‘Preferred Name’ option in Albert can more adequately be reflected through email and other NYU documents, how professors and other students can become better acquainted with nonbinary pronouns (such as they/them) and how gender inclusive restroom options can continue to be added to all university buildings.”
We sat down with Steinhardt sophomore Bryce Sawyer, a transgender woman, and CAS sophomore Jamille Roman, a transgender man, to better understand their experiences of being transgender students at NYU.
WSN: As a trans student, what are some of the issues you’ve faced while being at NYU?
JR: Housing is a really big thing, because while I get a single, I have a disability and can’t choose who I’m living with until I move in. Just because you have a disability and get a solo when choosing, you literally can’t choose, and that’s kind of messed up. So you can’t know if my suitemates are transphobic, and that just puts trans people in a really dangerous spot. Many trans people already have other mental illnesses, and you really don’t need to add this.
BS: Well, the only real big issue I’ve faced while being here was that I was in a suite with men, even though I marked that I was trans on my application. They were willing to correct it, but it was after I was moved in and everything. So, it didn’t even really feel like an option. Being a trans student living with a bunch of men was not the most pleasant experience.
WSN: Have the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus been accommodating to your experience here?
JR: The newer ones and the older ones are still the gendered bathrooms. I use the men’s, because I’m lucky enough to pass. But my friends who don’t pass, they kind of have to hold it until they go home, because it’s just not enough.
BS: My thing is — and I can’t speak for all trans people — but in any bathroom setting that is public, I’m not going to feel the most comfortable. So if anything, my preference is a single person bathroom as opposed to just a gender neutral bathroom. But I do think, especially compared to other campuses, that we do have a good amount of gender neutral bathrooms.
WSN: What are some resources you wish NYU could implement for transgender students?
JR: There really isn’t enough visibility. I don’t know if the safe zone training that people like administrators and staff supposedly go through includes trans men. I had one actually say I’m not actually trans and that you can’t identify as that until you have surgery. And this was a higher up administrator who supposedly went through training. Whatever is in the training is not covering trans enough, because people are misgendering left and right everywhere.
BS: I think resources that would be really great for NYU to have would not only be trans-specific groups, but also advisors for trans students who need medical resources. Being a trans person transitioning, it can be difficult to find somebody who knows what they’re doing. And it’s confusing you know, you have to figure it out for yourself really. I think that would be one resource NYU could have. I don’t think a lot of schools have that.
T-Party would like to encourage the administration to hire more trans staff throughout the university to make resources such as the gym, Wasserman Center and Health Center more inclusive and also invites NYU to connect with the community directly.
“More than anything, the university administration can continue to educate themselves as much as possible,” T-Party said. “As trans students, one of the most taxing experiences can be constantly taking on the role of an educator when it comes to our gender identity. By seeking out education on your own time, a burden is lifted off of trans students.”
Email Lexi Faunce and Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected]