This Is What A Trans Ally Looks Like
Part of TransACTION Week at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
I’m third from last (and also wearing my suffragist sash from our annual Day Without Feminism, part of an overlapping week of events held by our Women’s Center and Women’s Advocacy Council leading up to International Women’s Day)
This year’s Trans Action initiative is support for trans-inclusive healthcare policies, in particular the insurance available to staff and faculty, as well as the optional supplementary plan available to students. The student health center already provides trans-inclusive intake forms, however, there are still financial barriers to access for transgender care available to students.
Why this fight right now? Our campus already has gender neutral restrooms available in nearly every (if not every) building, the result of the campus’s first Trans Action Week efforts. The UW System has a gender identity inclusive nondiscrimination policy, and we have an LGBTQ Resource Center open weekdays that is always offering trans-inclusive programming. We also have strong advocacy within the Dean’s Office through the Bias Incident Reporting form, supportive and inclusive locker and restroom access and intramural participation policies through our Rec and Wellness Center, and while the dorms are rarely truly safe places for queer students (particularly gender non-conforming queer students) ResLife has a history of taking decisive action when incidents of bullying and harassment are reported. Our campus Counseling Center offers a Queer Peer Mentoring program where students who have been out members of the queer community are available for support and mentoring for students questioning their identity or in the beginning stages of coming out.
Healthcare access was the next big issue we want to see institutional action taken to resolve.
What else could we do better? We don’t yet have a preferred name policy. Mea culpa, I thought we did because I remembered being asked early on when I returned to school, but apparently that preferred name doesn’t propagate to class lists, logins, IDs, diplomas and so forth). Likewise, the environment on campus for students is mixed in terms of supportiveness from the student body that reflects our culture at large. Slurs and essentialist attitudes are still a fact of life (I myself was referred to as a “t****y or something” by a student in a class I was supplemental instructing for).
There is also the issue where faculty do not necessarily feel as safe disclosing that they are part of the GSD community as students and non-academic staff do due to fear of non-actionable, subtle acts of discrimination and exclusion by fellow faculty. Changing that aspect of the academic environment is crucial, because strong faculty mentorship of queer students can be vital to marginalized students’ academic success. An affirming, inclusive healthcare policy is another step toward demonstrating the acceptance of transgender people as part of the campus community at all levels: guests, students, staff, faculty, and administrators.
I don’t think many people who follow this tumblr are even within driving distance, BUT: if you want to get involved, come to the table in the Reeve Union between 11:30 and 1 any day this week to show your support for changing UW system policy on transgender healthcare.