Kenyon prides itself on its inclusiveness, but the College does not do nearly enough for trans* and non-binary students. A trans man quoted anonymously in “Outside the Binary” reported being assaulted in a bathroom at Kenyon — an experience that is unfortunately common. A 2013 survey published in the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy reported that 70 percent of trans* respondents reported being harassed, assaulted or denied entrance when attempting to use the restroom for their identifying gender. Trans* people make up less than two percent of the global population, but compared to the rest of the population they are 400 times more likely to be assaulted or murdered, according to the Trans* Violence Tracking Portal. Kenyon is supposed to foster students’ growth, but that effort is hindered if students are physically or emotionally unsafe.
To ensure that every student, employee and community member is safe, Kenyon needs to increase the number of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, especially in non-residential buildings, where they are sorely lacking. We propose a policy of instituting at least one gender-neutral bathroom per academic building. We acknowledge that some students, trans* and cis, may only feel comfortable in single-sex bathrooms. For this reason, we do not suggest that Kenyon eliminate all single-sex bathrooms. Rather, both single-sex and gender-neutral bathrooms should be readily accessible.
Trans* and non-binary rights are not often acknowledged. The fact that only one non-binary student was willing to be identified by name for the article speaks to bigotry and hostility in wider society — and at Kenyon in particular. It seems students did not feel safe going on the record. The trans* student quoted anonymously cited Kenyon’s lack of specific transgender policies and described how it made him reluctant to ask for help. Though Kenyon’s student handbook prohibits “discriminatory harassment” and states that it is unacceptable to stigmatize or insult on the basis of gender identity, among other categories, Kenyon needs to make a more concerted effort to broadcast that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is unacceptable. Furthermore, Kenyon students themselves need to speak up against transphobia. As this week’s article reveals, it’s a problem here.
The Collegian does not pretend to be an expert on non-binary and trans* issues. We learned the most from listening to the quoted students. The two students featured in “Outside the Binary” revealed there is no single non-cis experience. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that gender identity, like sexuality, exists on a spectrum. Ask non-binary people what pronouns they prefer and then refer to them by those pronouns. As a general rule, everyone on this campus, us included, could benefit from more listening.