California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Are we doing enough for our transgender community?

    Dr. Z Nicolazzo will address what Cal Lutheran can further do to accommodate its students Oct. 25

    The conversation around transgender people, specifically among college students, is often discussed in relation to their hardships rather than their kinship. Z Nicolazzo, a professor of education and student affairs at Northern Illinois University, wants to change that.

    โ€œThe transgender students I work alongside continue to work toward success despite their negative climates. Their resilience, and the way they develop the queer microclimates they need to navigate the broader, gender dichotomous campuses where they go to school, is beyond impressive,โ€ Nicolazzo said.

    Nicolazzo will speak at California Lutheran University on Wednesday, Oct. 25 about the resistance, resilience and kinship building of transgender college students, and how Nicolazzo hopes to change the higher education enviornment in order to be more open and welcoming to them.

    In this case, the Cal Lutheran community will have a chance to understand what changes it could be making right now to better accommodate its transgender students.

    Many of the important issues to consider have to do with providing more measures to ensure inclusivity of the transgender community on campus. Some people may have already heard the โ€œbathroom debate,โ€ in which places would house restrooms labeled all-gender. These ensure that nobody feels confused or uncomfortable by trying to choose a bathroom that may not fit their unique gender identity.

    Daniel Tillapaugh, a professor of counselor education at Cal Lutheran and a close friend of Nicolazzo, talks about ways Cal Lutheran is already doing well, and ways in which it can improve.

    โ€œAsking students to provide their proper pronouns is at least a first step. I never want to make somebody feel uncomfortable on the first day of classes,โ€ Tillapaugh said.

    PRIDE club, a student organization at Cal Lutheran, takes similar measures to ensure that all students, including transgender students, feel welcomed and a part of a community in their school surroundings. According to the Cal Lutheran website the clubโ€™s name stands for โ€œPeople Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality.โ€

    โ€œI think with trans[gender] and gender non-conforming people, we have a lot of work to do. In general, people who have different gender identities arenโ€™t as understood or accepted, and that really shows on CLUโ€™s campus,โ€ said Katie Shearer, a PRIDE club officer.

    Tillapaugh said with students still being unnecessarily addressed on class rosters as either Ms. or Mr., Cal Lutheran clearly has some improvements to be made in the field of gender neutrality.

    โ€œNot only would I want to see more inclusive spaces, such as all gender restrooms and completely gender inclusive residence life systems, but I also would like to see gender not being used as a way to organize leadership development programming and student organizations,โ€ Nicolazzo said in an email interview.

    However, it is significant to note that although these instances exist, transgender students are still succeeding. The point here is not hardship, but resilience.

    Nicolazzo said the best way to learn about and accept the transgender community is to โ€œcontinue to unlearn how gender has been normalized as a restrictive, binary construct.โ€

    Natalie Elliott