Transgender-inclusive changes at Mac

If you’ve been to the second floor of the library lately, you may have noticed something different: while before you were limited to one bathroom labeled “men” and one labeled “women,” now all people, regardless of their sex or gender identity, can enjoy either of the all-gender bathrooms. Over the summer, bathrooms were also converted to all-gender on the fourth floor of the library, the second floor of Neill Hall and the basements of Doty and Dupre Halls—and even more all-gender restrooms will be coming in January! This is only one of several exciting changes happening around campus to make Macalester more inclusive of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

Throughout last year, the three of us worked with a number of other students to make these changes happen. This group consisted of Oliver Schminkey ’16 (they/them/theirs), Quinton Singer ’17 (he/him/his), Grey Myers ’17 (ze/zir/zirs) and Gabriel Keyl ’17 (they/them/theirs)—who are all transgender students—and the Health, Gender and Sexuality (HUGS) task force of MPIRG. We have worked both individually and as a group on many different projects.

At the Spring Professional Activities Workshop (SPAW) this May, four transgender Mac students and alums met with over 30 faculty members to discuss transgender experiences in academia, suggest trans-inclusive steps to take in the classrooms and answer faculty questions on the subject. In addition to one-time events like SPAW, we are also working on a number of other ongoing efforts to make Macalester safer for transgender students. For example, last spring we began a dialogue with the Department of Residential Life about how on-campus housing can be more inclusive of students of all genders. So far Res Life has made adjustments to the housing surveys for incoming students as well as to the process for pairing roommates in Doty 1’s All-Gender Community. We plan to continue to expand all-gender housing options for students of all years.

Oliver also independently completed a number of trans-inclusive actions over the school year and summer. They were a member of the SPAW training student group and they also spoke on the student panel at the new faculty orientation meeting earlier this fall, emphasizing their own experiences with transphobia in the classroom and offering suggestions for improvement to incoming Mac professors. They also created a zine called “Pronouns Matter: A Guide to Creating Safer Classrooms for Transgender Students” including snazzy sections such as “The First Day of Hell/Class,” “Sh!t I Forgot Someone’s Pronouns,” and “Bathrooms: Give Us a Break.” With the help of Provost Kathy Murray, they distributed this zine to all current faculty members. Student and faculty feedback has been very positive overall and a copy of the zine, including a printable version, will be available soon on the upcoming Trans* @ Mac page, along with an updated list of the new bathroom locations. Oliver also worked with the mentors at International Student Programs to provide transgender inclusivity training to incoming international students, as well as to outline Mac’s resources to any new international transgender students. In the coming years, we hope that Mac can be a place where transgender students across cultures can find a welcoming and supportive environment.

All of these changes were supported by an MCSG resolution calling for greater transgender inclusivity across campus, which was passed unanimously in early March. In addition to MCSG, many students, staff and faculty offered important support for our accomplishments. We would like to thank everyone who has been part of these efforts thus far and invite the entire Macalester community to join us in working to make our campus safer for trans individuals. Simple ways to do this include: asking for and using people’s correct gender pronouns (regardless of whether you think someone “looks like” a she/he/they/ze/etc.), challenging transphobic comments or problematic course material, and holding our community accountable for upholding our core values of inclusivity, understanding and respect for all people.

Oliver Schminkey (they/them/theirs) Grey Myers (ze/zir/zirs) Amy McMeeking (she/her/hers)