I chose to attend Lewis & Clark for a variety of reasons, but the main reason was that I felt that I actually belonged to the community and would be included and accepted. Or at least this is what I thought.
LC prides itself on inclusivity, acceptance and diversity, but do these traits actually represent the experiences of minority students on campus? From my own experience, I would say that support for minority students is at the bare minimum, and I know that several of my peers agree. I personally believe that the transgender community is treated poorly on campus, and it seems that some of the college’s actions are to our detriment.
I arrived at LC unsure of who I was and who I wanted to be. I was using she/they pronouns and identified as non-binary when I began my academic career. One of my first experiences of transphobia at LC was on my New Student Trip. I was in a cabin with four women and one cis man. When I was talking with one of the people in that cabin about how there was only one boy there, that person commented on how it must be weird for him to be in a cabin with a bunch of girls. I responded “I’m not a girl,” to which they said “well you’re basically a girl.”
I am no longer friends with that person. Although this anecdote is about my interaction with an individual student, LC creates and supports an atmosphere where people believe that these comments are acceptable.
Additionally, it is wrong that we are subject to trainings about sexual assault and the effects of alcohol but not about respecting people’s identities. Without these kinds of seminars, people are not able to be educated on the correct way to approach conversations about identity coming into college.
When I changed my name at the beginning of spring semester my freshman year, I had no idea where to even begin the process of changing it within the institution. The professors I had at the time were helpful and provided links to where I could begin changing my name. I would not have been able to find those links without their help, as it remains quite hidden on the LC website. Sadly, until I get my name changed legally, I will continue to receive emails from the college with my deadname on them.
Being trans in the pandemic has been especially difficult because I have to essentially shout my deadname to the person giving me my little spit tube when I take a COVID-19 test on campus. I took one recently for my testing pool and I asked the person handing out the tube what name was on my file. They said both my deadname and the name I use now.
There are a few demands I would like to make because I feel that without doing so, no change will come from this article. The first is that education and training of the larger LC community on respecting LGBTQ+ people is provided. If the training is outsourced, the organization holding the training must be pre-approved by student-led organizations, such as the Queer Student Union. Incoming first-year students should also be required to attend seminars or training on respecting people’s pronouns and identities. In order to normalize the use of gender pronouns, faculty members should be strongly encouraged to include their pronouns in their Zoom name. And finally, in order to increase accessibility and comfort for students, name-changing forms should be easily available and students should be allowed to change their email usernames.
It is truly disappointing to see how poorly the institution treats its students, especially its minority students. I came to this school because of the promises of inclusion, equity and acceptance. I have seen and experienced those things from certain groups on campus, but the efforts made by faculty, staff and administration have been minimal and from certain demographics. Trans people deserve better from LC.
This article presents opinions held by the author, not those of The Pioneer Log and its editorial board.