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Note: Many terms are defined differently for each individual. This list is in no way exhaustive nor comprehensive.
Transgender: A person who is changing their birth gender into another.
Transsexual: A person who is using medical and/or surgical means to change their birth sex.
Cisgender: A person who’s birth gender matches their sex and gender identity. This is the majority of the world population. Usually shortened to cis.
Sex: Biological traits that identify someone as male or female. Determined by X and Y chromosomes, gestational development and puberty. Legal sex is denoted by government documents (birth certificate, IDs, etc).
Gender: Actions and perceptions that identify someone as a man, woman or other. Determined by society and how people treat the person. Gender identity is how the person sees themselves.
Sex reassignment surgery: Generally refers to altering genitals to match a person’s new sex. Additional cosmetic surgeries (breast addition/removal, facial reconstruction) can fall within this category.
Multimedia can be found here.
“My body- and its difference from normative ‘maleness’ gets in my way at nearly every juncture: dating, talking about my history, doing things I enjoy, going to the restroom, choosing clothes- the list goes on. These are all mundane, day-to-day things; as a transperson, virtually every moment of my waking life is colored by the realities and structure of my body,” Tristan Wright writes on his blog because sometime fish have wings.
Wright is a member of a well-hidden community within the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York. He and many others identify as trans*, a label that adds a layer of complexity to anything and everything. A lack of understanding has lead to discrimination, humiliation and even violence towards trans* individuals in other communities. Despite the safety and acceptance at RIT’s campus, many still choose to hide themselves for their own safety.
The term trans* (with the silent asterisk) encompasses everyone who does not fit the sex or gender identities given to them at birth. This includes cross dressers, androgynous individuals and people undergoing a change of their gender or sex. The affects of one’s presented gender is normally not felt until they attempt to go outside of the expected boundaries.
Legal sex is one of the biggest hurdles that trans* people face. A child, once born, is labeled male or female by their genitals; the child is assumed cis and the information is recorded on the birth certificate. In the United States, this mark of sex is sent with other information to the Social Security Administration, school districts, insurance, the Internal Revenue Service, etc. The legal sex is connected to the person’s legal name, which is normally never changed unless a woman gets married (men taking the wife’s name causes legal issues). A name change can be done with a court hearing and a few hundred dollars, but a legal sex change can be trickier.
Most states require a court order in order to change a birth certificate, with many also requiring sex reassignment surgeries (SRS) as well. 3 states currently bar altering of the birth certificate. SRS costs thousands of dollars, which is not always covered by insurance, along with lengthy psychological evaluations and medical loopholes for a trans* person to traverse.
This means that most trans* students at RIT are legally their birth sex and have their legal name. Legal names are required on documents, as Financial Aid keeps in contact with the IRS. This means that legal names are listed on student IDs, on professors’ class lists and as display names in RIT’s email system.
Val Pizzo, president of RIT’s trans* club Tangent, had issues with this. With short hair and a rugby shirt, he easily presented as male, but the second-year student still has his legal female name and sex. During his required freshman discovery class, the professor set up an activity that split up students by gender; she planned it before meeting the group and used the sex markers attached to the student’s names on her class list. On the first day, Pizzo was asked why a male-looking student had a female marker on the sheet. Pizzo laughed it off and told the professor that it was a mistake, though he knew it was because his legal sex and presented gender didn’t match.
The professor seemed understanding, but throughout the quarter she kept referring to Pizzo by his female name and used female pronouns for him. Pizzo eventually pulled her aside and explained his situation, though the professor kept using the female pronouns and identity. He wasn’t too bothered by it, but he knows that’s not always the case. “For other people, especially in smaller classes, it can be an ordeal.”
Class lists are built using MyCourses, a software suite that RIT utilizes to allow a class to communicate within and share information and files. The data for students is pulled from the main data banks, though an individual’s information can be altered by asking the right people, Pizzo found out. The student ID can be changed to only have a last name, though the student’s picture is still necessary. The email display name can also be changed by speaking to IT services. Pizzo and other trans* group leaders note that none of this information is easily available.
All freshmen coming straight out of high school must live in the RIT dorms as long as their parental or guardian home is more than 30 miles away from campus for their entire first year. Students are allowed to pick which dorm and roommate they have as long as the other person is of the same legal sex as them. For trans* students, this presents a thorny issue: Do they live with a person they have no idea about how they feel on trans* people? Do they come out to every potential roommate? Or do they hide their identity and try to pass as their unwanted gender when they’re in their room?
There’s an option available especially for trans* students. An incoming student fills out a form, including a short essay on what the student needs in order to be comfortable in housing. This allows RIT Housing to match students with understanding roommates. If there’s no match, the student will be placed in a single room instead, which costs an additional $1,200 per year.
Shaemus Spencer used this option to find a roommate, where he was roomed with another female-to-male trans* student. He originally wanted to live in Special Interest Housing, where a fraternity-like club lives all in one floor of a dorm. Neither Art House nor the House of General Science House had a member who would be a suitable match for him, so Spencer lived on a normal co-ed floor. The only people who knew of his trans* status were his roommate and the floor’s residential advisor.
Spencer was able to use the male restroom on his floor without any issue, though there was also a unisex/disability compliant bathroom on the floor. Trans* individuals have issues with public bathrooms, as it can cause them to be forcibly out their identity. As Wright wrote “The ability to easily go to the bathroom is widely undervalued. If I have to pee, I have to hope there’s an available stall in the nearest bathroom. If there isn’t (which usually happens when I’m at a large meeting or other event and we’re on a restroom break) I find myself going on a little voyage in search of one, awkwardly walking in to the restroom, looking for feet in the stall, and hoping that no-one is thinking too hard about what I’m up to. Then, of course, I wonder if my bathroom-mates are paying attention to my “business”, if they notice the sound of me peeing with my feet facing the “wrong” direction. Can they tell I’m sitting down to pee? Do they wonder why?”
Trans* people being harassed for using public restrooms is a well documented phenomenon, so many elect to use gender-neutral bathrooms at their homes or in public. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) currently requires at least one compliant bathroom per building, which sometimes can be a unisex bathroom. The oldest parts of the campus were constructed in 1964, before ADA bathroom compliance was in effect.
This means that older buildings have few, if any, “safe” bathrooms for trans* students. The art college is based in two connected buildings (7A and 7B or Gannett and Booth) that are each four floors tall with a basement; there is only one ADA unisex bathroom between them. Newer buildings tend to have at least one, though anything built past January 2010 do not have this information publically available.
All dorms, despite some being built in the ‘60s, have at least one unisex bathroom per floor, allowing all trans* students to have a safe space. After freshmen year, students can live wherever they wish, with on-campus apartments and suites having the usual non-gendered bathrooms most people have in their own homes. Students can also have anyone they wish as roommates past their first year as well.
The Field House hosts a large gym, pool, athletic courts and hosts most of RIT’s wellness courses, a required part of graduation sans doctor’s note. There are gendered locker rooms, another known place for trans* people to face harassment. Normally the locker room has to be passed through to reach the pool, though there is a more circuitous way to get there; most trans* people are not comfortable enough to wear swimwear in public so this has not been a vocalized issue. The Field House does have two unisex bathrooms in the basement that could be used for changing, though they are out of the way and do not offer a safe place to store items or to shower.
An odd issue facing trans* students on campus is the mail system. Students living outside of the dorms have mailboxes that are used by everyone in a unit, so the name is not taken into account. Students living in the dorms have mailboxes that are handled by the student post office for the eastern half of campus. Letters, postcards and mail small enough to fit into a mailbox are sorted by name, so if a person’s non-legal name is used, the post office will cross it out and add the legal name instead. This happens as well for packages that need to be picked up; eastern on-campus apartment students face this issue as well.
The western half of campus has its own post office, and it does not have this issue. When students sign up for their mail key at the beginning of the year, they fill out a form that includes their name and what other names they might receive mail as. This allows trans* students to receive mail without it being tampered. The eastern post office sign up is automatic, as any keys or info is taken from Housing.
The first major step that brought the RIT trans* community to the spotlight was more of a stumble. The student-run weekly magazine, The Reporter, wanted to write a feature piece on trans* people on campus. The February 4 issue featured a female-looking body on all 6,000 covers to match the main feature piece “Infinite Circles: RIT’s Transgender Community.” The piece focused on two students, Melissa Maron and Tristan Wright, who was a first year at the time.
In the article, the only issues brought up were name changes on school documents and the “slightly…irritating” lack of safe bathrooms. The piece spoke about how Maron founded Tangent, the only trans*-specific student group, but shows an unflattering picture of her taken in profile, making her masculine facial features and prominent Adam’s apple obvious signs that she is male-to-female trans*.
“That was one of the worst issues ever that I was in charge of,” Mady Villavicencio said. As the editor-in-chief of The Reporter, Villavicencio was responsible for all final content, including imagery, within the magazine. The public comments on the piece note how “Infinite Circles” is redundant, which the magazine received flak about, but the GLBT community brought to her attention that the piece had multiple issues to it.
By focusing on only two people, “Infinite Circles” was only able to focus on a very small slice of “transgender” life. Language used was unclear or not defined or was used improperly. “There is a lot of disagreement within the GLBT community about definitions and beliefs,” Villavicencio noted. “I ran [the [piece] across as many of the GLBT Center friends and alums as possible.” Due to the lack of time and other pieces requiring attention, she had to hope that the trans* students interviewed were able to “speak for themselves.”
Villavicencio looks back and notes that because she spent time with GLBT people that she was already aware of issues and terminology and didn’t think of including them. The writer, Michelle Spoto, and section editor, Alex Rogala, had issues because they didn’t have this background knowledge, Villavicencio said.
The piece also ran several weeks after a user-submitted blurb offended the trans* community, so they were already wary of The Reporter, “so that might have tainted the perception of the piece.” The pictures were taken at the last minute, with Joi Ong having to create portraits at the last-minute. “Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would have waited to publish.”
Villavicencio spoke throughout the writing of the piece with Christopher Henry Hinsely, a transman who is now the GLBT Center Coordinator and staff advisor for Tangent.
“Since they’re marginalized, they really need a safe space,” Hinsely said. This need of a safe-space is what led Maron to create Tangent, which is now lead by Pizzo. The group has club status, allowing it to reserve rooms and to access funding, but it is not open to everyone, causing it to break RIT club rules. This disobedience is due to the nature of the club. “It isn’t very open to cis students because the mission isn’t to educate, but to help each other,” Hinsely said.
Tangent used to have only a few regular members, but now it features over 20 students who attend on a regular basis; the doors are open to trans* and questioning students from local schools who don’t have their own trans* group as well. At meetings, members support each other, share stories about their experiences and share clothes when a member decides to change how they present.
Trans* students are also welcome at ritGA, RIT’s gay alliance, as well as the GLBT center to access resources or to have a safe space. RIT’s deaf/hard-of-hearing population also has an LGBT club called Spectrum. All the GLBT-focused groups receive extra representation in Student Government thanks to the executive board OUTspoken.
Originally there was an LGBT-specific senator that would represent the large community by themselves, but there was too much work for one person. OUTspoken is currently lead by president Wright and vice-president Jillian Strobeck. Strobeck, as president-elect for next academic year, is aware of the young group’s issues.
“In the past, I feel that OUTspoken has fallen short.” She explains that with the multiple LGBT-focused groups on campus, it isn’t always clear where lines are drawn. Out of fear of “stepping on ritGA’s toes” OUTspoken has been lax, focusing instead on setting up social events for the LGBT community. Strobeck says that next year she plans to address the lack of unisex bathrooms in older buildings, though she’s not sure how the issue would be fixed.
“Socially it’s been great,” Spencer said of trans* life on campus. “Administratively it’s been hard.” RIT is very accepting of trans* lifestyles, students have found, but information isn’t always open. Pizzo said “When you really need this info is when you apply as a freshman.” Knowing about groups such as Tangent and OUTspoken as well as the process for getting names changed and safe housing chosen is vital to assure a safe experience for an entering student.
The RIT Health Center allows students to continue hormone therapy and to continue any psychological or psychiatric therapy they may have started, though this is also not advertised. General therapy and health resources are made known, but long wait lists make it hard to be seen in a timely manner.
Though RIT’s campus generally is supportive, there are still instances when transphobia happens. Pizzo shared that a female-to-male trans student was once friends with a girl, who one day said he was spending too much time with her and told RIT he was sexually harassing her. During the disciplinary hearing, the girl continuously misgendered the trans* student and referred to him as she. He asked her to use his preferred pronouns, as she had done so when they were friends and knew that doing otherwise hurt him. Pizzo said another trans* student was given trouble for being on an all-female floor, which made some people uncomfortable.
Faculty and staff can participate in safe-space training, where they learn about LGBT issues and how to be empathetic. People who pass the free seminar get a sticker to place on their door, denoting that they’re open to be approached. Not many take part, Strobeck said, and she plans on increasing visibility in the program.
“There will always be trans* people who will never be out,” Pizzo said. “They will always be stealth.” This is due to the world at large being transphobic, which is slowly improving.
For now, trans* students can feel safe at RIT. The university’s president Bill Destler donated $10,000 to The Northeast LGBT Conference that took place at RIT April 12-14, show his support for all members of the LGBT community both on campus and the world over.
Audience and Use Profile
The audience will be Windows 7 computer users. They will already have a basic understanding of how to use computers, but not how to do advanced functions and customizations. These users are likely to contact a vendor such as Geek Squad to handle technical issues that arise instead of their technically-inclined family or friend or to handle it on their own.
These instructions will aid users in speeding up their computers after they have been in use for some time. The users are not expected to do any physical upgrades or pay for any programs.
HOW TO MAINTAIN THE SPEED OF YOUR COMPUTER
Over time your computer will slow down unless there is proper maintenance. A computer is a machine and needs to be maintained, just like a car. Bringing your computer back up to speed might seem complicated, but is actually quite simple. All it takes is a few simple steps.
Remove Spyware and malware
Remove Unnecessary Files
Defragment your Hard Drive
Improve your Browsing Experience
Maintain your Faster Computer
Computers need to be maintained in order to have peak performance, and these steps will help with that. The programs in these instructions don’t need to be reinstalled each time, though Spybot should be updated to keep your computer safe. Defraggler and CCleaner will need to be downloaded and installed again if there is an update. Updating programs and Windows help keep you safe and your computer working fast.
The petite girl sat poised in front of her silver computer. She took a few breaths to prepare herself. She opened her mouth and sang.
Amanda Rivet is an 18 year old at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). She is a freshman in the Game Design and Development program and has achieved a level of fame on the Internet for her creations, including her singing. Her confidence in herself took a long time to reach this level. The harsh reality of bullying had damaged her self-esteem for many years.
Rivet participated in beauty pageants in her home town of Silver Creek, New York. “My mom pushed me to do them,” Rivet said. To prepare her for appearances on stage, she went to dance and singing lessons, from first grade until senior year of high school.
Her first pageant was at age 7, where she took third place overall. Her second pageant at age 9 was when she won the best talent prize, and her final pageant at age 12 saw no accolades. As she grew older, Rivet lost interest in putting herself in front of others to be publically judged. “I told mom that I didn’t feel right doing it,” she said. “A lot of the girls were really cliquey. I felt like the odd one out.”
While the other girls happily partook in the competitions, Rivet would rather write, play video games or play around on the family’s computer. The feeling of being the odd one out stretched into her school life as well. In 6th grade Rivet found herself with only one friend, another girl. There were rumors in school that she was a lesbian. “A bunch of the ‘friends’ I had turned around and called me a lesbo or lesbian because the only friend I had held my hand whenever I got bullied,” Rivet wrote on her website.
One day, Rivet realized that she was attracted to girls. She became public about her sexuality in the 8th grade. Rivet had her first girlfriend at this time, but they broke up after an incident at school. “[Other students] reported me for kissing my girlfriend on the cheek when other couples were making out in the hallways. I almost got suspended for PDA (public displays of affection), which was hand-holding and kissing on the cheek.”
After experiencing Silver Creek Central’s hypocrisy, Rivet tried to be straight to quell the physical and verbal harassment she experienced every day. “Being straight was not something I was comfortable with,” said Rivet. Some of the students that harassed her had parents that worked in the school, so the administration did not believe her claims. The National School Climate Survey found that eight in ten LGBT students have been verbally harassed at school, and that four in ten have been physically harassed.
“In 10th grade, I just didn’t give a shit anymore,” Rivet said. She dated other girls and did not care what others thought about her. “Once I hit 12th grade, the bullies were all gone,” she said. Once she came to RIT, she felt much more comfortable than in her conservative hometown.
Rivet, with her new-found self-confidence, used her skills from her pageant days to spread the message of love, tolerance and friendship online. Diana Rodriguez, 22, is a friend of Rivets who was seen the result of her struggles.
“I think that it made her stronger,” Rodriguez said.” Now she cares less about what other people think about most things, but there’s also a shyness and carefulness about her. When people actually make their way into her circle of friends, I think she cares more about what they think.”
As Rivet found herself in the understanding environment of RIT, she blossomed into a confident individual. Rivet said, “The true friends who stood by my side were all that mattered. My academics were gonna get me somewhere in life. And they are. Things are only going to get better from here.”
Recently, bedbugs have become a more pressing matter in the public mind. Horror stories of bugs in the most exclusive hotels have left travelers itching to stay home, but not everyone can stay in their homes. College students move to dorms, apartments and rental houses. The chances of bedbugs are high, and this is quite the case at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). These little ride-alongs, though, are not as much as a problem as some people might think.
Pat Adams was never in the habit of communicating with his roommate. As honors freshmen, they lived in the Gibson dorms. When he was not in class or doing work for his Industrial Engineering degree, Adams was spending time with his friends in other dorm buildings.
“My roommate mentioned having rashes on his back,” Adams said, now 21 and a third year Manufacturing Engineering Technology major. “He left overnight, he said something about not liking [RIT].”
Not long after, RIT Housing approached Adams, saying that they would need to test for bedbugs. Once bugs were found in his room, Exodus Exterminating got to work. Adams was instructed to keep his clothing in provided bags for three weeks. These three weeks would be spent with weekly treatments to combat the bugs.
But things did not go as planned.
“It sucked [sic],” Adams said. Exodus told him multiple times that his room was not in the correct condition to be sprayed by leaving a note on his door. Adams does not recall being told what is considered correct condition. This caused the treatment to go on for three months.
“Alerting the student should have been done by the exterminators,” Terry Walker said. Walker is the manager of Building Services for Facilities Management Services (FMS) at RIT. FMS is responsible for cleaning and maintaining dorms and academic buildings on campus. “Student notification is up to [Residence] Life.”
Walker noted that Residence Life and Housing Operations were in charge of hiring exterminators, servicing on-campus apartments and making procedures for handling bedbugs in dorms. Housing Operations could not be reached for interview.
Though academic buildings do not house students, that does not mean they are any safer from bedbug infestation. “We kept getting reports of bedbugs,” Walker said. The complaints focused on the second floor of the Wallace Center. It is one of two floors were talking is permitted and features couches and lounges for students to rest and read.
FMS staff were sent to look for the signs of bedbugs. Michael Potter, professor of Entomology at the University of Kentucky says signs include eggs, egg shells, excrement and shed exoskeletons, along with the bugs themselves. FMS could not find proof of bedbugs, but still treated the area to be safe.
“What’s interesting about the library is we treated the furniture, the carpet and we couldn’t find evidence of bedbugs,” Walker said. The Wallace Center replaced the furniture to be safe, Walker said.
Park Point and The Province are apartment complexes built adjacent to RIT and are marketed towards students. As they are not run by RIT, they have different practices and procedures in place. Park Point’s general manager, Nick Ippolito, explained the complex’s policies.
“We respond to every report of bedbugs, and we have only found one case. We have a plan, a response plan. We proceed with knowledge and care compared to renters in the area.” Park Point uses an outside exterminating company to handle bedbugs. Only two reports of bedbugs have surfaced. One was the apartment next door to the confirmed case.
The Province could not be reached for interview or comment.
Neither RIT nor Park Point disseminates information to about bedbugs unless an infestation is found. “Bedbugs wouldn’t be good publicity for potential students and tenants,” Walker said. “We certainly don’t have the authority to run a campaign for awareness.” Walker cited that that would fall to Housing Operations’ responsibility.
“You know, we really should inform people about bedbugs,” Ippolito said.
A 2011 study from Virginia Tech found that the recent increase of bedbug infestations could be linked to resistances developed by the bugs. “Due to the widespread use of DDT, bed bugs were essentially eradicated from U.S. homes and apartments by the 1950s,” the study states. “While DDT was initially effective for bed bug control, resistance to the cyclodienes was well-documented among different bed bug populations by 1958.”
Due to this developing resistance, along with the banning of DD in the United States, pyrethroid chemicals are now being used to combat bedbugs. The study found that the bugs are already developing genetic mutations where enzymes neutralize the chemicals.
The only proven non-chemical way to control bedbugs is through heat. Clothes, bedding and linens need to be washed and dried at least at 120o F. They need to be stored in bags to keep bugs from reaching them again. As not everything can be heat-treated, insecticides are still the main way to kill bedbugs.
Unfortunately, treatment of bedbugs are not as stringent in other countries. International travelers could have bedbugs hopping a ride with them back to the states. Soon, they find themselves in new environments and new beds.
Good night, sleep tight, and of course, wash your laundry in hot water to keep the bed bugs from biting.