If you’re like me and get to live on campus with your best friends, you can’t wait to get back to your room after a long day of classes, internships or errands. There’s just something about relaxing with your roommates that helps assuage your anxiety and puts you in a better mood. That feeling of bonding and belonging is part of what attracts people to live on campuses like ours.
Yet right now on this campus, dozens of students who are just like me in every other respect are deprived of that feeling. They pay the same tuition, suffer through the same boring classes and deal with the same bureaucracy that the rest of us do. The only difference is the bureaucracy that these students encounter is actively impinging on their rights to the college experience they deserve.
This is what’s happening to GW’s transgender community. These students, whose genders differ from their biologically assigned sexes, face difficulty every time someone asks them if they are male or female. The size of this group is impossible to gauge because the school’s current policy essentially forces them to lie on their documents.
A movement supporting the right of these students to live in gender-neutral housing is gaining steam on campus. The Student Association is considering a nonbinding resolution supporting the policy, which already exists on many campuses and would allow residents of both sexes to opt to live together and help transgender students find like-minded roommates.
This is a policy that will benefit dozens of people who are constantly deprived of that sense of belonging, and it will in no way impact my quality of life. Nor will it affect the vast majority of non-transgender students on this campus. If we can make our fellow students feel included at trivial cost to the rest of us, then who are we to stand in the way?
Our entire legal system is predicated on the idea that all of us are free to do as we please, so long as it doesn’t cause harm to others. Conservatives invoke this constantly, especially when criticizing “bureaucracy.” Yet these very same people oppose gender-neutral housing, and in so doing support yet another layer of red tape for people whose lives are difficult enough already. Apparently bureaucracy is tolerable if it affects someone else.
Some cite special treatment as a reason for avoiding the policy, claiming that the school can’t hope to please everyone. I see nothing special about giving people who pay the same exorbitant price to come here the right to live with whomever they want, just like the rest of us. This is how it works in the real world, and if you haven’t noticed, the sky isn’t falling yet.
Others will reject the policy because some heterosexual couples will inevitably exploit the policy and cause trouble. These arguments assume that if a system can be gamed it should never be implemented. Never mind that homosexual couples are free to live together and no one is talking about banning that.
Still more will retort by saying our transgender friends can always move into unrestricted off-campus apartments. This logic indicates a profound lack of sympathy for others. Transgender students feel separated enough already, and just want what the rest of us already have – to feel accepted on this campus. They certainly don’t want to be driven away by someone else’s bigotry, which is exactly what happens when they’re told to either suck it up or get out.
The SA resolution came out of the Student Life Committee last week and may come to a vote as early as Tuesday evening. Should it pass, the SA bill is nonbinding and the administration is free to ignore it. In considering the policy, I would hope the powers that be remember the words on our University’s Web site, which clearly state the school’s commitment to “prepare the next generation of leaders” for the real world.
Is living up to our core beliefs too much to ask?
The writer, a junior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.
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