College creates dorms for transgender and nonbinary students

Ithaca College operates Open Pages, a residential community offering ‘an inclusive space for non-cis identifying students.’

The new residential community is an update to Ithaca’s previous policies, which allowed students to choose roommates of the opposite sex.

Ithaca College now has a separate dorm for transgender and nonbinary students. The 20-bed residential community, “Open Pages,” operates “to provide an inclusive space for non-cis identifying students and to create a supportive community on campus,” according to its website

In a recent interview with Inside Higher Ed, students behind the push for transgender housing said that their university was “initially reluctant” to transform some of the dorm rooms into single units. 

The priority wasn’t money, it wasn’t filling beds; it was making sure the students were comfortable,” Ithaca’s former director of residential life told Insider Higher Ed

Open Pages attempts to create a sense of community “with peers, peer leaders, and faculty” through “opportunities for students to discuss identity, privilege, and oppression as it relates to gender.”

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Inside Higher Ed reported that the trangender-specific housing is an update to Ithaca’s previous accommodations. In 2016, the college announced a policy allowing students to live with roommates of the opposite sex, according to The Ithacan, the student newspaper. 

Campus Pride, a non-profit addressing the campus environment for LGBTQ students, lists 427 colleges with gender-inclusive housing options. The list shows that at least one college in all 50 states has gender-inclusive housing. 

Ithaca’s Campus Pride rating is five out of five stars, based on policies, recruitment, resources, and other areas of assessment. 

An “LGBTQ-Friendly Report Card” cites examples of these areas: the college has a “[p]rocedure for reporting LGBTQ related bias incidents and hate crimes,” “[r]egularly offers educational events surrounding intersectionality of identities for LGBTQ people,” and has “[p]aid staff with responsibilities for LGBTQ support services.”

[RELATED: White people banned from common spaces at UC Berkeley’s off-campus housing]

Organizations such as the International Society of Nonbinary Scientists (ISNBS) call on other colleges and universities to adopt gender-inclusive housing, according to Campus Reform. Scientific American shared efforts by ISNBS to address “gender segregated environments like dorms” in an article petitioning the National Science Foundation (NSF) to include other gender identities in its data collection. 

Another report from Campus Reform highlighted policies and residential communities for transgender students at three Catholic institutions. One institution, Sacred Heart University, told students that they would not have “to disclose the nature of their interest in gender-inclusive housing.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties and will update this article accordingly.