USG proposes transgender resolution

Blair Donald

Editor’s note: Because of a reporter’s error, this story incorrectly quoted Roxie Patton as using the word “colored.” Her quote now reads: a transgender person is more likely to be murdered “if that person also happens to be of color.” Also, Patton’s comment about a positive “first step” should have referred specifically to the university allowing gender changes on Flashline. The story has been updated to reflect these corrections.

Identity is profoundly important for humans to define. People show who they are through an infinite number of ways; of those, the most common ways to identify someone are a person’s name and gender. But for some students at Kent State, these two parts of their identity are constantly called into question.

Currently, students cannot alter FlashLine or any other university records. For students who do not identify with or have changed their birth name and gender, this means that they cannot be immediately recognized as whom they are. But the Undergraduate Student Government is working to change this with a new resolution.

The proposed resolution would require Kent State to recognize students by their preferred names and genders (or lack thereof) on all official university records. This would eliminate the possibility of people making mistakes or deliberately refusing to respect someone’s identity.

Kieran Raines, a graduate information architecture and information management student and founder of Trans*Formers,  the transgender organization on campus, said the resolution would be a positive change.

“Most of my classes are online. In a physical classroom, a roster can be written over to adjust things like a name,” Raines said. “But online, it doesn’t matter. Someone will see if you post to correct your name and respect it, but are forgetful because your legal name is still everywhere.”

Roxie Patton, program coordinator for the LGBTQ Center, said that it was not only a matter of identity, but that a student’s safety is also threatened when their birth identity is revealed.

“It’s dangerous because we don’t always know how people will react,” Patton said. “If a professor accidentally or deliberately outs a student or refuses to acknowledge a student’s identity then it becomes a safety concern. The ‘T’ part of ‘LGBTQ’ is the most susceptible to violence. One out of every ten trans people are murdered, one out of eight if that person also happens to be of color.”

The USG decided to create this resolution because a university is a place where students should feel free to express themselves and become the person they want to be, said USG Executive Director Amish Patel.

“The thought behind this movement and resolution is that we are backing our students, and we want them to be the people they identify themselves as,” Patel said. “As a USG and university, we would like to see all our students happy and have a wonderful KSU experience. This is one step to improve the quality of student-life on this campus and ultimately, help someone start a new chapter of their life on their time.”

By eliminating the possibility that students could be misidentified, Patton said the resolution could be “life-altering” for trans people.

“This would be many universities’ first stop toward saying, ‘You matter to us and we will take the extra steps to make sure you are comfortable.’ I know I would see a decrease in the number of people who tell me about being ousted or bullied,” Patton said.

Raines said that it “shows more respect for students to call them by their preferred names.”

“We have identifying codes,” Raines also said. “Not acknowledging someone’s first name is just disrespect. “

The next Kent State USG public meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Governance Chambers in the Student Center.

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].