GENESEO – In response to a SUNY Geneseo transgender student being assaulted, SUNY Geneseo’s Pride Alliance and Women’s Action Coalition (WAC) hosted the event ‘Trans? Fine By Me’ with the goal of educating the Geneseo campus on transgender issues.
The event included the student who was assaulted, as well as an educational panel that included prominent professors, transgender alumni, and students involved in Pride Alliance and WAC.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” said the individual attacked on Thursday, September 28. “But, because of my wonderful friend, I was encouraged to speak out. I did not want to increase the statistic of under-reported assault.”
This statement was immediately met with wild applause from the audience. A broad spectrum of diversity from the student body illustrated the large portion of the campus community that came out to support and learn about this prevalent issue.
The format of the event began with two testimonies of assault from transgender students. Then, professors and students involved in Pride Alliance and WAC spoke about proper terminology, what the campus community should focus on to ensure an open environment for trans individuals. The forum also focused on the goals of the two organizations, and statistics of assault on transgender students on college campuses.
After all topics were addressed, time was allotted for a question and answer session. In the spirit of sensitivity, WAC and Pride Alliance offered a phone number for students to text incase they felt uncomfortable asking their question in person.
“When I was little, I had very short hair, and one day I was confused for a little boy,” said Alice Rutkowski, a prominent professor at SUNY who works with many issues related to gender and transgender studies. “I immediately went home and told my mother that I wanted to grow my hair longer; the negative feeling was created that in some way I had failed at my gender. That is why people are attacked, not because they are openly gay, but because they are not obviously conforming to a gender. We all operate on a spectrum, there is no right or wrong way to be what you are.”
During the forum they discussed the changes that they would like to see at the college. Those changes included gender-neutral housing and locker rooms around campus, increased sensitivity training in LGBT issues, especially for RAs, and the hiring of a LGBT+ resource staff member.
“The event was positive and informative,” said a member of the co-ed greek organization Gamma Chi Epsilon. “But, it also highlighted the fact that there is still so much work to be done.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Victoria DuBon.