A report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that transgender-inclusive policies and support systems on college campuses provide transgender students a greater sense of belonging and more positive perceptions of the campus environment.
The report reviews previous research on the experiences of transgender students and presents new findings from interviews, surveys and focus groups conducted with transgender students.
“The majority of transgender students arrive at college having endured harassment and bullying in secondary school, which research shows have a negative impact on their academic performance and mental health. This cycle may be compounded by further adverse treatment and institutional invisibility at college,” said author Abbie E. Goldberg, former visiting scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “However, through relatively small changes, faculty and administrators can make a world of difference in the lives of transgender young adults.”
The current research focused on the institutional structures and interpersonal interactions at colleges and universities that either enforce biases or serve as sources of support for transgender students. The report concludes with ten recommendations to institutions of higher education on how to create more transgender-inclusive campus communities.
Key recommendations include:
- Colleges and universities should explicitly include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination policies.
- College curricula should address gender identity and specifically transgender identities and experiences.
- Students should be provided with education/training to enhance their understanding and acceptance of gender diversity.
- Faculty/staff should be exposed to mandatory training on gender identity issues.
- Students should be able to list their preferred name on campus records and alternatives to male/female should be provided.
- All university literature and publications should use gender-inclusive language.
- Gender-inclusive or single-stall restrooms should be readily available on campus.
- Universities should provide trans-inclusive/trans-accommodating housing options.
- Counseling and health services staff should receive training on trans-inclusive and trans-affirming practices and health insurance coverage should be inclusive of trans students.
- Trans-specific spaces and/or groups should be created with sufficient resources to support programming and events.
“A growing body of research indicates that gender, including gender identity, expression and gender norms, plays a key role in academic, health and economic outcomes,” said Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Colleges should engage students and faculty in conversations about gender and examine policies, including those related to information systems, through a comprehensive gender lens. This would have the potential to improve campus safety and promote academic success for all students.”