Woes of being Trans in the Dorms

August 25, 2011

Vote YES for gender-neutral housing, y’all, even if you think it doesn’t affect you!  It’s all the rage!  Here’s why:

I’ve done my time in the dorms.  Honestly, most of it was pretty harmless seeing as how I lived with my girlfriend at the time so I didn’t really have to deal with weird roommates or anything like that.  BUT I did have to deal with shared showers.  Now I’ve already done a post on bathrooms (which if you haven’t read, you REALLY should) and the same stuff kind of applied to my shower experiences.  I got weird and undesired looks, I got people asking me if I was in the right bathroom, I got people yelling at me telling me I was in the wrong bathroom, I would see someone coming down the hall towards the showers and then when they realized I was going in they would turn around and wait until I came out, I mean really obvious signs that I was a cause of uncomfortability (<- one of those words that isn’t a word but definitely should be). It was humiliating. But actually, the most humiliating part wasn’t all of the things that I listed above, it was the fact that I didn’t even want to be using the women’s bathroom in the first place!  I didn’t want to be running around with my tits out and my lack of a penis in front of other people, how the hell am I supposed to convince them that I’m a boy?  (Pause here: since then I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with my body and probably wouldn’t have those problems now (although I would still have a problem with using the women’s bathroom) but I was still figuring things out and hadn’t yet developed the language to explain my body in conjunction with my identity) All I wanted (and still want) was to be able to walk back to my room with my towel around my waist instead of my entire body.  It was a constant reminder that I am female-bodied and a constant reminder of my insecurity about my body and a constant reminder of my presence making others uncomfortable.

All-in-all my dorm situation was way less than ideal, but I managed. I actually consider myself pretty lucky.  I know people (like real people who are my friends and exist in real life) that have had it WAY worse. Sexual assault, physical assault, having to change roommates because of hate crime issues, having to live alone because of differences, having the place they live be a place of fear, feeling unsafe in their own homes, it’s too much.  And its fucked up.  Well, I mean, of course its fucked up, but I’m talking about the whole system here.  UNC having a mandatory first-years-must-live-on-campus rule, but not being able to provide safe housing is fucked up.  Not taking into account people’s gender identities before assigning them a boys or a girls dorm is fucked up.  Gender-neutral housing on college and university campuses, hell even boarding schools, anywhere that people are required to house with other people should offer a safe gender-neutral space.  And, you know, it’s not just for queerios like me, this could be helpful for brothers and sisters who want to live together, couples who want to live together (its okay, we’re adults now, we can live with people who don’t have the same genitalia as us and not be scarred from it), even people who are ill and require a medical assistant everyday. I can’t express enough: IT IS NECESSARY.

What bad could come of gender-neutral housing?  Well, if we offer gender-neutral housing then it would be possible for couples to live together…HELLO?!?! Every gay male couple and lesbian couple on campus is already living together because of your gender separation rule. Fuck, that’s what I did FOR TWO YEARS!  Besides, if people want to live with their partners they would just move off campus, its cheaper anyways!  Well, we wouldn’t want people who preferred gender separated housing to feel uncomfortable…well god-forbid we ever make white heterosexuals feel uncomfortable. So make it optional!  Make it so the people who are living in gender-neutral housing CHOSE to live there.  Just add a simple question to the housing application: would you prefer gender-neutral or gender-separated housing (circle one). It’s that simple.  Well, if we make it optional and set aside fifty rooms for gender-neutral housing what if we don’t fill all the rooms?  Dorm rooms are highly sought after at UNC and we don’t want to waste any…listen, I alone know at least 50 people who are begging to live in gender-neutral housing.  I alone could fill half of your fifty rooms (assuming its two people per room). In my opinion, 50 rooms is not enough rooms!

I know that UNC is currently on the path to offering gender-neutral housing (however its taken them the better part of 6 years, maybe 7, and it still hasn’t happened yet) so if you go to UNC or know people who do then I implore you to educate yourselves and those around you because GENDER-NEUTRAL HOUSING IS A GOOD AND NECESSARY THING (am I beating a dead horse here?) AND IT IS A SHAME THAT WE DON’T ALREADY HAVE IT.  Talk to your friends who go to other schools too!  This type of housing should be readily available across the nation and the first step is making everyone aware that this is a real-life issue.

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2 Responses to “Woes of being Trans in the Dorms”

  1. Caleb said

    Peter: yes!
    I really appreciate this post.

    I’ll do my best to work on this issue in our residence halls.

  2. samsowards said

    I agree with this, very much so. I believe I will post about the same thing sometime in the near future, telling everyone where I got the idea of course.

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