The administration cannot continue to ignore trans students

BY CAEDYN BUSCHE '17

When I first came to Mount Holyoke College, I was so excited to be in an environment where the students were passionate, where the administration took our words into account and where anything was possible if we advocated enough. Now, as a senior, I stand before my last year of college so incredibly tired. I have seen so many injustices that have plagued this school and its student body. Whether it’s #MoHonest, or the lack of taking student voices into account about Super Blanch or pandering to alums because of the fear of losing money, the administration has barely acknowledged its flaws that affect everybody on campus. These issues and many others have rarely been talked about outside of the gates because of the fear of tarnishing Mount Holyoke’s image that must remain as pristine as it was in the 1900’s. But the issues are here, and they are screaming in the face of an administration that has their blindfold on and earplugs in.

When the trans policy was announced, I, like almost everyone else at Convocation 2014, jumped to my feet, screaming and crying, excited that the administration had listened to us and was doing something that would make the school better. Fast forward two years and almost nothing has been done. Language isn’t cohesive between departments and school-wide events still continue to push trans students to the side. A trans memorandum was adopted (because of student pushing), but nothing has been visibly changed. The trans policy announcement was nothing but a way to make the school look good and to bring in more prospective students. Granted, it has done that, but it is one of the most falsifying publicity stunts that I have ever seen in a college institution.

As a trans student, every day I hear from other trans students about the lack of validation on campus and the constant othering that causes turmoil and a feeling of not belonging in a space that is supposed to be designated as “MoHome.” We constantly hear “she” or “ladies” as an all- encompassing term: we hear about how only Mount Holyoke women are going to shape the world. We listen to Convocation, Commencement and college videos and see official documents that maintain that every single person at this school is a woman. Hell, even the form for officially declaring a major says ‘she’ and ‘her’ about six times.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was sitting in the senior meeting, hearing that diplomas use ‘she’ pronouns to address graduates that have worked their asses off for the past however-many years, and that these pronouns would not be changed, even if the recipient has had a legal name and/or gender change. Not only is this an act of violence, but it is basically a voiding of an expensive degree for anyone that doesn’t use ‘she’ pronouns. By possessing a legal document, which a diploma is, that does not identify the same way as other legal documents, the document is void. Mount Holyoke is not only doing a disservice to its trans students, but is also literally giving trans students a worthless piece of paper for over a hundred thousand dollars. This piece of paper follows students through their entire lives. Just the thought that I will be in possession of an invalidating document makes me feel that my work, activism and battles were for nothing.

Mount Holyoke administration, you can do so much better. You have continuously told us to never fear/change, yet here you are, fearing the change that is happening in the world, and you are bring- ing down a sizable population of this amazing campus with you. It is your responsibility to take care of your students and, over and over again, you have done the exact opposite. I love this school, the people I have met here and the opportunities that I have been given, but the way that I and other trans students have faced blatant institutional transphobia will be what makes me turn my back on these gates and never look back after May 21, 2017. 

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