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SS Interview

Yesterday I spoke to an ftm individual who’ll be called SS here (full name will be in piece). He was wonderful to talk to and I found a lot of places to go to for more information.

RIT has names on RIT emails, computer accounts, IDs, paychecks and forms be the same as a person’s legal name. Changing a name short of becoming a married woman is a very expensive process. SS told me how his name on his ID and MyCourses is his legal (female) name, which causes confusion. He uses an outside email to communicate with professors and fellow students, which displays the male name. He introduces himself as his male name, but professors sees a female name on their rosters and end up having to ask, which causes him having to explain his situation. SS doesn’t have an issue with this, but for people in the middle of transitioning, having to out themselves can be dangerous.

SS told me that when he applied for housing as a freshman, he applied for and was accepted to two special interest houses, Art House and House of General Science (HOGS). He wanted to live on HOGS, but housing has a rule against different-sexed students sharing a room in the dorms. SS presents as a male, which would make living with a female uncomfortable with both of them. Housing gave him a second option, after much contact and talking to higher-ups, for SS to live with another ftm trans*, but on a general floor. SS took this option and was a non-floor member of HOGS.

Each floor in the dorms has a handicap-accessible/non-gendered bathroom, which includes a toilet, sink and shower in one lockable room. The other housing options on campus have non-gendered bathrooms like most people’s homes with a toilet, sink and shower/bath.

A very interesting thing SS brought up was the NRH and GV post offices. At NRH, students are not given any forms to fill out. When mail comes in, despite the physical address on it, it’s the name of the person on the package that determines who it is for. SS had packages and postcards sent to him with his preferred name, but since that person doesn’t exist within RIT’s computer systems, the post office would cross out his name and write the female name instead on it, despite multiple times telling them that he was who he said he was. This lead to postcards being marked up. GV, on the other hand, requires a form to be filled out when you open a mailbox there, which has space for other names you might be known as. This allows SS to get his mail with his preferred name without issue.

I have a large list of on-campus people, organizations and departments to speak to now for official rules concerning trans* students and logic behind the rules.

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Beginning Ideas and Research

I had three ideas for my capstone project: video games influencing players, wearable technology/portable computing and trans* issues at RIT. After reviewing all three ideas with my professor and the class, the trans* story pitch was the strongest and the one I chose to go with.

For a background interview I spoke to the receptionist at the GLBT Center at RIT. I missed a talk by a trans* speaker by one day, which is a shame, but we discussed the issues that trans* people have on campus, especially when it comes to representation.

There’s three major groups that work with trans* people on campus. The GLBT Center is for everyone under the queer umbrella, as well as allies. It’s a safe space for people to hang out, eat meals, take a nap and to have weekly meetings. There’s free condoms and a library of queer materials to check out.

The Center for Women and Gender has C. Henry Hinesley, who runs the GLBT Center. The Women/Gender Center gives counseling and services and runs feminist events. The Center used to be the Women’s Center, but the new name is part of their PR campaign to show that they’re inclusive to everyone. They have free condoms, dental dams, pads/tampons, chocolate and literature on domestic violence, sexual health, etc. The Center still seems to be very much geared towards cis females.

OUTspoken provides representation for LGBT people at major student organization (MSO) events. OUTspoken is ran like a club in that it has multiple people, while the deaf and female communities each have their own senators in student government.

RIT has its own trans* group, Tangent, but they seem to be most literally underground. I’ve heard of them before when The Reporter was writing their one piece about trans* people, including how flyers for Tangent get ripped down and otherwise erased from campus.  I managed to find a single poster outside of the GLBT Center. They don’t have their own webpage, only a single email address; they’re an official RIT club, which is odd that they have such a small footprint.

I’m currently looking for trans* students to talk to me, which I expect to be somewhat difficult. I’ll try to get a hold of Tangent and talk to Hinesley as well.

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Filed under Capstone