I wish this was surprising. Abdul Asquith, a senior at Florida Atlantic University, was refused use of a library laptop last Wednesday while he was trying to study.
ASQUITH: She looked down at the ID, and said, “You sound, look, and act like a girl and in this ID is a man, therefore I’m not giving you a laptop.” [...] It looks just like me. I identify with my ID. I wasn’t there dressed up. I didn’t have on dress. I wasn’t dressed in character.
Asquith was eventually allowed to use a laptop after asking three different librarians.
Sadly, this kind of administrative discrimination is commonplace, and far too likely to target a gender non-conforming Black gay man like Asquith. Trans and gender non-conforming folks deal with this crap all the time. And it’s far too common for Black people to be targeted because of perceived gender non-conformity – recently a cis Black woman was told she’d have to undergo a vaginal exam because the gender marker on her ID was wrong, and trans and gender non-conforming people of color consistently face high levels of discrimination from folks with any authority.
I recently completed my MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute, where I was mispronouned twice by Financial Aid staff in the Financial Aid office. Once I was wearing messy studio clothes, once I was in a skirt and heels (I hadn’t been mispronouned by anyone in a while, but these aren’t the only times it happened to me in grad school despite what I think is a very clear gender presentation and attending a school that pretended to care about LGBT students). Both times made me super uncomfortable accessing the Financial Aid office for information and help I needed. And I wasn’t explicitly refused access to a service, just disrespected while accessing it.
Colleges and universities are often assumed to be great, affirming communities for everyone. But we know this is not the case. Schools need to to a lot better by trans and gender non-conforming students in general. And explicit discrimination like this certainly can’t be allowed to stand.
Jos Truitt does her best writing in bed.