College Life Politics Psych Wellness

HOT TOPIC: GENDER ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

BREAKING: Colleges are sorta, kinda finally acknowledging gender is a spectrum.

One step forward, two steps back. That’s the way all social progress seems to go.

Last month, Alpha Chi Omega became the most recent sorority to accept transgender women into its sisterhood. In a video, the international president welcomed “all who live and identify as women, regardless of their gender assigned at birth.” The only other sororities with similar policies are Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delta Gamma, and Sigma Sigma Sigma.

But this week, once North Carolina repealed its anti-LGBT ‘bathroom bill,’ the NCAA ended its six-month protest of refusing to host championship events in the state. While on its face this may seem like a civil rights victory, the bill was actually replaced with a half-assed compromise called House Bill 142, which ultimately works to prevent the enactment of any nondiscrimination ordinances that could protect the LGBT community. Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally, says in an interview with ThinkProgress, “This is a crass decision and they have chosen money over principle.”

Notice how both of these scenarios pertain to college life? College campuses are a hub for gender diversity. Simply walk into any 500-person lecture hall, and chances are you’ll be able to observe gender’s often unacknowledged complexities.

Although transgender students are in the vast minority (only 3.1 percent of college students identify as transgender), 50 percent of people aged 18 through 34 accept the notion that gender is a spectrum and that some people may fall outside of the conventional ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories, according to Psychology Today.

Moreover, many universities are making strides in the right direction when it comes to creating an inclusive environment for students across the gender spectrum. Dozens of universities provide gender inclusive housing options. In addition to the protections granted to transgender students under Title IX, LGBTQ resource centers and support groups have popped up on campuses all over the country.

While the horrific realities the transgender community face need not be minimized (at least seven transgender women have been murdered in the first four months of 2017), progress is progress no matter how small. The fact that advancements are being made at institutions across the country, the same institutions that are shaping the minds of our future leaders, allows for some hope that one day, there will be no more steps back.

All you college-aged vinas, do you notice gender as being a particularly hot topic on your campus? Let us know in the comments.

(Featured image via xojane.com)

Californian stuck in the Midwest for undergrad. Editorial Intern for VINA. Hiker. Writer. Eater. Nothing beats a well-made sandwich or a well-crafted sentence. You can reach me at annamarie.higley@gmail.com.

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