USF Housing Application Updated
Students applying for on-campus housing can now choose “transitioning” as one of their gender options.
TAMPA, Fla. (July 06, 2011) – In an effort to keep up with changing student populations, the University of South Florida will be changing part of its application process for on-campus housing starting Thursday.
To better accommodate students transitioning from male to female or female to male, students can now choose between “male”, “female” or “transitioning” as their gender options. Before, their gender options were limited to what students chose (male or female) at the time of their application to USF.
The change comes into play after a transitioning USF student reported negative experiences in on-campus housing. Ey (a gender-neutral pronoun replacement for he/she) now goes by the name Taylor McCue.
McCue worked with Dorie Paine, the director of Housing and Residential Education, to make USF’s on-campus housing more transgender-friendly.
“Hearing Taylor’s story highlights issues we knew were out there intellectually but didn’t have a personal experience for,” Paine said.
“It’s going to be really positive for a lot of trans people, especially first-year students,” McCue said. “It doesn’t mean the trans war has been won – you can’t win everything in one night. This is just part of the process for changing things on campus.”
McCue said this is a huge step in the right direction for transgender rights on campus. McCue and Paine said that as far as they are aware, this may be the first change to housing applications of its kind amongst Florida’s public universities.
Housing has to keep up with the changing student population, said Ana Hernandez, the dean of Housing and Residential Education.
“College is a time when they may be able to make a smoother social transition and begin living life as a new gender and we want to make sure students have that opportunity on our campus,” she said. “We want to make sure we are not excluding anyone from having the residential experience which we think is very important to student development.”
Sara Crawley, associate professor of sociology, teaches classes like Human Sexual Behavior and Queer Theory at USF. She said that in the last decade more people have publicly talked about transitioning, so it’s expected that population will include students, as well.
“College provides that space where people can really examine themselves and it’s important for USF to support students not only intellectually, but emotionally,” Crawley said. “I applaud USF for making that accommodation. The tricky part of housing is that many students are developing, growing and changing how they’re thinking about themselves so being flexible is something housing probably has to do on a regular basis and I applaud their efforts on doing so for transgender students as well.”
The change in application will let the housing office know which students identify as transitioning so they can reach out to them and arrange accommodations to suit their needs.
Options available to these students will be to live in a single unit, to room with a friend or to room with someone comfortable living with a transgender student. Accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
McCue has been a transgender activist at USF since Fall 2010, when ey got the Transgender Student Union to become an official student organization.
At the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony last fall, McCue reminded participants to work towards trans rights every day, instead of honoring those who had died from hatred and bigotry and then forgetting them after the ceremony.
Next spring, USF will be instituting a gender-neutral housing pilot program. If it is successful, the university will consider expanding the number of units used for gender-neutral housing.
Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.