Question: Pronouns and College

McGee asks…

I’m in transition right now, and I’m planning to use male pronouns first year of college. But that means if I apply as female, I’ll end up as the only man in an all-girl dormitory, and if I apply as male, they’ll think I’m joking and my parents will be mad.

How can I transition as easily as possible, especially when it comes to checking that little box?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on July 14th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 15 comments »

15 Responses to “Question: Pronouns and College”

  1. Danny

    Colleges handles things pretty differently from each other (including if they are even willing to house people based on gender identity rather than assigned or legal sex).

    I’d suggest you try to find people you can talk to who know how the particular schools you are applying to will handle things.

    I think I’d suggest you apply as female and call the admissions department the second you are accepted. Explain the situation, ask what they can do to make your housing situation comfortable, and let them know that will affect whether you attend.

    Also, some schools have co-ed dorms.

    And how schools handle roommates could be a separate issue. If they let you choose a particular roommate, I’d suggest you try to connect with people online and find someone who you will be comfortable with and who will be comfortable with you.


  2. Lanthir

    If you’ve not yet decided on a school, I’d advise looking for one with coed dorm buildings and single-occupant rooms, so as to avoid the issue all together.
    Hampshire, in Amherst MA, has their housing set up like this, and it seems to work quite well for all involved.

    I go/went to an “all girls” school, and ended up rooming with a trans guy (Ian, for those of you may have seen his profile and/or posts here) for a while. As far as I know, the school thinks he’s a girl, but everybody on campus knows otherwise. It seems to be working out pretty well for him, but he might be able to provide better advice than me if he comments on this later…


  3. ZenGato

    If you already know the school you are going to you should talk to a counselor there. Many colleges have dealt with this before and have steps in place to make it as easy on you and your dorm mates as possible. Many colleges that separate dorms based on sex rather than gender will at least give you a private room with a bathroom to respect everyone’s boundaries.


  4. Billie

    Actually, it’s quite common, especially at all-women’s colleges. The colleges will recognize your gender, but they still categorize you by your sex most of the time. If you call them up, at admissions or some place (like maybe a LGBTQ organization at the school), they’ll tell you the school’s position, how they’ll handle it and what you can put on documentation. If you’re worried about admission discrimination, well, just don’t tell them who you are, just that you’re an interested possible applicant. Many will let you apply as your perceived gender (but remember, roommates could be a problem, so you should make sure about that). Others won’t but will honor all your gender choices except on official documentation. Some will have you make a case, with a gender therapist’s GID diagnosis necessary.

    But college is the place for you to be branching out and being yourself. Most dorms nowadays (well, all the places I looked at and then went to) were co-ed anyway (except the all female ones, but they actually all said they accommodate transgender individuals).

    Don’t stress it and just call or email (but that’s less anonymous if you’re worried about it) the colleges you’re interested in. Admissions is filled with the nicest and most helpful people you could usually ever meet (remember, they’re trying to get you to come to their college), and if they can’t help you or redirect you, call the LGBTQ organization or center on campus (and if there isn’t one, it’s not usually a good sign about tolerance on campus anyway).

    Have fun in college and be yourself no matter what!


  5. Anonymous

    I would recommend applying as female, and, to echo some earlier posts, if you are accepted, call the admissions office and ask to be put in touch with the folks in residence life & housing. they are the ones who will be making the room assignments, which is a process that usually happens over the summer, so you have a cushion between getting accepted, saying yes, and getting a housing assignment. have fun in college :)


  6. Anonymous

    I would just apply as who you feel you are. I’ve had no problems concerning school or housing and I’m in the Midwest.


  7. Eryk

    If it’s on paper, you could just not put down a check mark. If they need clarification, they’ll call you. Or if you either don’t want to do that or don’t feel comfortable with it, then before you send in your applications, you could call the colleges you’re applying to, and ask what you should do. If you’re not comfortable with even anonymously calling, then the next best option would probably be to check male. If your parents would kill/torture/scar you for life because of that, then lastly, just check off female. Good luck! Happy college-going!


  8. Anonymous

    If you are applying to a women’s college you cannot legally apply as male, regardless of your gender identity. Until you legally change your sex (or in some states gender designation) you are still legally female. I’m not sure how college admissions processes work at all schools, but the legality of specific-sex institutions is pretty strict due to discrimination laws. Unless you are really determined to attend a women’s college, if you have already come out as trans, a co-ed environment might be better suited to you. I attend a women’s college and the hyper-analytical and accepting environment is very useful for people who are dealing with analyzing their gender identity. However, if you’ve reached the stage in your transition that you are living as male you might be better off attending a co-ed school and requesting to live in either the co-ed dorm or the male dorms (I would contact the school and if possible get a form from a therapist saying that you have grounds for changing your gender). College is about orienting yourself in the world, and part of that is facing challenging interpersonal relationships. For the potential female roommate you might have, living with a transperson could be very eye-opening. And for you, living with either a female or a cismale roommate could be equally as helpful or eye-opening (by teaching you how to navigate different types of relationships).


  9. Quentin

    I suggest opting for a women’s college, it’s the best place for gender variant and ftm trans people in my opinion. I know a lot of transguys that went to an all female school and they have all said that it has been a lot safer and embracing to their transition. Co-ed dorms are not always the best places. They had to apply as female, but was given free reign to express their gender and be referred to in masculine pronouns.


  10. Rusty

    (Even though it’s a given) I would suggest “feeling around” prospective schools. Visit and just notice what kind of people you see walking around and make sure it feels like a comfortable environment for you. If you interview, let them know you are gender-variant. Try for a single in a co-ed dorm. Make a few close friends and ease into it. Give yourself as much privacy as you need even if you need to push a little. If there’s a form to assign rooms, leave a note about your being trans. At least you could end up with a roommate who’s a good fit simply by letting the school know.

    Personally I don’t see the value of applying to a female school in order to freely express being male. By virtue of being a student at an all-girl school I would think you would be constantly reminded of the gender you are trying to forget.


  11. jill

    CONTACT THEIR LGBT CENTER DIRECTOR!!! this person is there to help you with exactly this kind of thing, and chnces are, if you contact admissions and ask your questions, this is the person they will refer you to anyway (if you’re lucky). look here first- it is a list of some lgbtqia centers at universities in the US:

    not all schools have an lgbt center or office. that does not necessarily mean this will not be a good or safe school! (my college did not have one, but we had a women’s center who did a lot of programming, and like 7-10 individual queer student groups/clubs. (it’s like we didn’t need an lgbtqia center because there were all these resources in place). so don’t worry. do some research. and if this director exists, contact them!!!


  12. Jessica

    Jill has it right. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. You’re not trying to deceive anyone. You should definitely talk with the LGBT center at the university. If the university does not have one, then you have to wonder whether that university is the best one for you. I am assuming you are going to university to receive the best education you can. That being the case, you don’t want to be in a university that will distract you with trans issues all the time. Having some of your time spent in trans issues is inevitable, but you don’t want your experience to get in the way of your education.


  13. Anonymous

    If you are FTM and eventually want to pass as male and/or have the desire to be “stealth” or have the desire to apply for jobs as male. I would suggest not going to an all-girls school. Because That diploma will be hanging over you forever and everyone will know that once before you were another gender and it will seriously hurt you in the job field. I also think it is unfair for the others who go to an all women’s school who went there to have that atmosphere. It isn’t supposed to be somewhere for men to go to.
    Talk to admissions, talk to resident life and to the LGBT group. I socially-transitioned at a non-girls school. I am FTM and I know it is possible but just like everywhere you have to communicate and find the right people to communicate to and advocate your needs because they are not going to know automatically and just because a school has had a trans person before doesn’t mean they don’t need to be told what you need.


  14. Anonymous

    I went to an all-female school and it was the worst thing for my genderqueerness. It really depends on the school. It’s a good idea to speak to an administrator in admissions or the school’s queer club and find out what your options are. What you do with them henceforth is entirely up to you. Good luck!


  15. Anonymous

    the answer is you can’t transition smoothly. The world sucks up until the day you die. you can’t change that.


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