Advocacy for Trans-Inclusive Policies at Universities


by Emilia Dunham

Reporting from the Philly Trans-Health Conference

lGender Neutral Housing program.

Policies at Universities which affect trans people

  • Nondiscrimination policies (only 293 colleges cover gender identity and expression in their policies) – What was the first school? The University of Iowa, the state we did Technical Assistance for last month!
  • Access to sex-segregated spaces (trans students are explicitly or informally rejected from accessing bathrooms and lockerrooms)
  • Names and gender markers with University records (most colleges don’t allow preferred/chosen names on rosters, student IDs)
  • Housing (many trans people are not allowed to room with people of their identified gender so a trans women couldn’t live with other women)
  • Access to health services – this is BIG because so many trans people must access health services more than their peers. Very few colleges offer any sort of services within the health center and have trans exclusions in their health plans, but some have full trans coverage (University of California schools, NYU, UPenn, American and a few others).
  • Inclusion of transgender studies, topics and text in academia
  • Access to Greek life and athletics

What you could do:

Northeastern University
  • Familiarize yourself with other policies at other schools
  • Be your own advocate (this is stressful, but sometimes you have to be the one to force change)
  • Most advocates for trans-inclusive are in school for years, so it’s important to “pass the torch” by leading underclass students
  • Identify staff to help out, especially LGBT or Gender centers, LGBT staff advisors or allies to support in these struggles for inclusion. Having more permanent staff, experienced with college bureaucracy.
  • Collaborate with other marginalized groups, with similar goals (communities of colors, people with disabilities, etc)

Great resource referenced: “Suggested steps ot make campuses more trans-inclusive” – book by J. Beemyn

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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