“Haverford has a long way to go in terms of trans inclusivity,” said Kenzie Thorp ‘15, one of the co-heads of a new working committee focused on inclusivity for transgender individuals. “It’s a campus where the institution and the students are “accepting, but not aware.”
Thorp, who is also co-head of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), says the Trans Inclusivity Committee formed out of a conversation she had with a friend about the idea of college insurance covering gender reassignment surgery.
“We want to make Haverford’s health insurance trans inclusive. Sex reassignment surgery and hormone treatments are electives, and not covered under the insurance. There are 45 institutions across the country that have inclusive healthcare policies, and Duke just got one,” said Thorp.
From there, Thorp and fellow committee chair Bailey Roth ’17 began talking to other groups on campus about how to make the most change through targeting institutional policies.
“We wanted to work with policy because it was something definitive and something we could change. Hopefully, through changing school policies, we can raise awareness of these issues and change attitudes around campus,” Roth said.
The committee is composed of twelve people, including students, faculty, and staff.
“Haverford students are really accepting, where if someone came up to them and said, “I’m trans,” they wouldn’t yell some slur at them or be mean to them,” said Thorp. “But I don’t think a lot of Haverford students understand what that really means or what it means to not be conforming to a certain gender role or gender identity. There are a lot of policies in place that are harmful for trans students that people just don’t think about.”
Some examples that Thorp gave included the freshman housing forms, which require new students to specify male/female gender, and changing your name in Moodle or on your email to reflect your gender identity.
“Making it easier to change your name here, or change your name in the school’s records. You can’t change your name on your transcript unless you change it legally, that’s the law. But getting your name changed in Moodle or your email address, just so that you’re not Julie when you want to go by Jim. That kind of thing. Having this be a place that’s really mindful of these things,” Thorp said.
Roth also mentioned bathrooms as a major issue.
“An issue that comes up often is the bathroom situation, especially in the dorms. Many times, one or more persons feel uncomfortable with gender neutral bathrooms, making the decision between gender neutral and gendered bathrooms difficult for halls. This can be really problematic for non-gender-normative people,” Roth said.
So far, the students leading the effort are excited about the possibilities.
“As a trans* guy myself, I felt like it was something that I could do to improve my own college experience as well as the experiences of others in similar positions,” Roth said.