Transgender students offered continuous support


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

A year has passed since the University of Iowa became the first school in the nation to show support for the LGBT community during the admission application process.

Students are now able to identify as transgendered, and officials said the UI’s leadership in providing this opportunity is spreading a strong message, both locally and to other campuses.

“It sends a really profound and welcoming message,” said Matty Smith, communications director at One Iowa. “It certainly sends the right message to people in the community who are looking for a place to feel welcome.”

The optional question that allows students to identify as transgendered was added to applications last year. Of the number of UI undergraduates, two students identified as transgender enrolled in the fall 2013 semester.

“The whole purpose … was to provide an informational link,” said Michael Barron, the UI assistant provost for enrollment management and executive director of Admissions.

He said many more students identified with the LGBT community —468 students during the fall 2013 semester.

These numbers do not include older students who were not given the option of identifying on their applications. Additionally, Barron said some students may have opted out of identifying for various reasons.

Smith said this could be the case if students do not feel it is necessary or do not feel comfortable identifying as transgendered.

He said the UI’s support could lead to more students feeling comfortable, and stronger advocacy efforts on campus.

“Whenever universities like the UI can embrace all students, no matter who they are … it speaks volumes to what kind of environment is there and what kind of environment they are offering,” Smith said. “It is really important that every aspect of the LGBT community … are always included in the conversation, and I think that’s what the university is doing.”

UI junior Heidi Aude said offering these optional questions recognizes a group of students who do not always get the recognition they deserve.

“Transgendered people aren’t recognized everywhere, and it’s good the University of Iowa is getting ahead of the curve,” she said. “It says the UI is open and accepting, probably more accepting than other universities, and I think it says they care about their students, especially minorities that don't get represented everywhere else.”

Shane Windmeyer, the executive director of Campus Pride, said including this option on forms is one step in holding places of higher education accountable for academic success among the LGBT students.

“By asking the optional question, the UI is able to make sure transgender students have the services and programs in order to be successful academically,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about making sure students have the opportunities … to come out if they want to.”

Windmeyer said he predicts there will be an increase in the next five to10 years in campuses including optional questions similar to the UI’s model.

Smith also said he thinks the UI’s example will lead to other universities increasing efforts toward effective conversations and inclusion on campus.

“The UI is heading in the right direction and … being in the Iowa City area, which is such an inclusive place to begin with, it makes sense for the UI to set the standard,” he said. “In this day and age … that’s definitely the right message [to be sending] and direction we need to be moving.”

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.