Trans at Oberlin
It has been observed that Oberlin has a lot of trans students, and not a lot of resources for them. This page is a project of the Oberlin Pronoun Liberation Front, a guerrilla mission to disseminate information on radical gender resistance through safe, happy, informed gendered and non-gendered living! Use it wisely.
Res Ed housing on trans students is confusing, and since they have no official/written policy, it often depends on who you speak to within the office.
Res Ed gets information about students' gender from two sources: their official college records, and their self-report on the housing form. If those two sources match, you're all set. If they do not match, they will contact you before placing you anywhere (this may or may not be true, sometimes they just place you with someone who has the same "official" gender and has said that they are ok living with a trans person on their room mate form). The most likely outcome of this contact is that you will be placed in a room based on your "official/assigned gender" rather than your self-reported gender.
- they are not open to first-years
- trans students aren't given priority over other students who want to live there (e.g., heterosexual couples or mixed-gender friends who want to room together), meaning that space can run out
Res Ed previously stated that all halls will be all-gender at a date that was originally set at 2010 but was pushed back to 2015. However, to fix the above problems, the 2010 – 2011 housing process has been changed such that any hall not specifically designated as single-gendered is open to occupancy by roommate pairings of any gender.
Students may also opt to live in Baldwin, home to the Women's and Transgendered People's Collective. Baldwin is a complex political environment that varies from year to year but has, historically, been much, much, much more welcoming to female-bodied, female-identified people than to trans folks.
OSCA is the preferred housing option of many trans students, for reasons including but not limited to:
- Room assignments are based on who you're comfortable living with
- Room changes are much, much easier and less bureaucratic
- Co-ops are required to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom
- People in OSCA are generally more likely to be informed about trans issues, and house meetings and institutions such as COPAO provide an opportunity to discuss and educate openly
OSCA allows trans and gender variant students who have a bad situation in ResEd to jump the housing wait list through an application process.
- First floor, next to the entrance to Fairchild Chapel. Single occupancy. Not currently labeled as anything, let alone a bathroom. Seriously, it could be a broom closet, the secret entrance to the dungeons, or Jimmy Hoffa's super-single, for all I know.
- Every co-op is required to have at least one all-gender bathroom (if they have a bathroom; Kosher-Halal Co-op does not).
- Robertson, third floor. The signage tends to be altered, but it is technically all-gender.
- The new Kohl Building, which houses the Jazz Studies, Music History, and Music Theory departments, has two all-gender bathrooms each on the second and third floors.
All halls are required to have at least one gender neutral bathroom. Halls vote at the beginning of the semester to decide how their remaining bathroom(s) will be gendered. Res Ed policy is that if any individual is uncomfortable with all-gender bathrooms, the bathrooms must be labeled either male or female. This policy may, in addition to marginalizing students who need gender-neutral bathrooms, also force cisgender students to travel to a different hall or floor every time they want to use the bathroom. Some halls compromise by using a form of the E system.
- There is an unlabeled single-occupancy bathroom in Hales, room 019.
- There is a single-use bathroom labeled "mens" with a locking door. To get to it, go down the stairs from the mainspace/dancefloor entrance, then turn left (near Jazz Studio E).
- There is another single-user bathroom downstairs, if you follow signs first to the Women's locker room, then go through the door labeled 'weight room.' There is a bathroom labled "men" which only has one stall, but does not have a locking door.
- There is yet another unlabeled single-user bathroom by the osteel practice room.
- Two on the first floor, immediately behind the printers.
- The bathrooms at the entrances to the Scholar Study wings are all gender-neutral.
- There is a single occupancy all-gender bathroom on the 3rd floor of Peters, near the language lab.
Rice has one official all-gender bathroom (on the top floor), and many single user gendered bathrooms.
- Basement: Bathroom on the left as you head to room 24, and another bathroom directly across from the stairs. These bathrooms have been in a state of flux, as they have not officially been labeled, but occasionally temporary signs get put up.
- First Floor: Bathroom labeled "Womens" across from room 125 (If you go towards the stairs that lead out towards Harkness, then turn onto the hallway, it'll be on your left). It's single stall with a locking door.
- Second Floor: Identical to 1st floor, except that now you have to go up a short set of stairs to get to the "mens" bathroom.
- Third Floor: Go up to the lounge (up the 1/2 flight of stairs) and the bathroom is the first door on the left. It is unlabeled at present.
- Neuro department, first floor. Next to A160, two half-windowed doors.
- Neuro department, second floor. Across from A258, in the alcove by the drinking fountain.
All are labeled all-gender and have locking doors. Often inaccessible during the evenings, after the neuro wing is locked up.
- There are two single occupancy, locking bathrooms on the 2nd floor, on either side of room 201. They are labeled "Bathrooms"
- The second, third, and fourth floors all have all-gender bathrooms.
- The first floor bathroom, marked "women," generally becomes all-gender during evenings through an implicit frustration on the part of male-identified individuals who do not like having to go to a different floor.
There are three all-gender changing spaces in Philips: they are single-user bathrooms, two of which have lockers and all of which have showers. They are located down the hallway where the gendered changing spaces are, on the right. One is marked as a Family Restroom (?!), one is marked as Gender-Neutral, and one is unmarked.
Oberlin will change your name/gender in their records, if you request it. You do not need to have legally changed anything in order to change your name or gender marker with the college. Note that this information is sent to several offices, so students should be aware of potential outing situations.
Before Entering Oberlin
If you legally change your name between the time when you apply and the time when you enter, you can send a court order to Admissions and they'll take care of everything. Otherwise, things are a bit more complicated, as detailed below.
After Entering Oberlin
To start out, send a letter requesting a change to Liz Clerkin at the registrar's office. This will change the name that you, your professors, and your supervisors see in Presto. The registrar's office will also send out a letter to the following people and offices, so be aware of potential outing situations.
- The professors for whatever classes you are currently registered for
- Your advisor(s)
- Your class dean or the Conservatory dean for student academic affairs
- Deans of Students and Studies
- Career Services
- Controller's Office (they will change your timecards for any jobs you work with the college)
- Development Resources
- Financial Aid
- The libraries
- The mailroom
- Multicultural Resource Center
- Religious and Spiritual Life
- ResEd and CDS
- Safety and Security
- Student Academic Services
- Student Accounts
- Student Health
The individual offices may or may not change their records after receiving this letter.
- Blackboard and your email address will not automatically change; talk to Cindy Sanders at CIT to get this changed. Be aware that your old email address will be discontinued in two weeks, so make sure that any important contacts (including professors and administrative offices) have your new email address. Make sure that both PRESTO and Blackboard list your new email address, or you may miss important emails from professors. If either of these sites list your old address, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Cindy forwarded my request to change my email to Sandy Kanuch - you may prefer to contact Sandy directly.
- To change your name with the library, talk to an adult employee at the main circulation desk. Lisa Brlas, the evening supervisor at Mudd's circ desk, is a good person to talk to.
Legal name changes in Lorain County
The process for name changes in Lorain County is pricey and not particularly intuitive. Here it is, however, in all its glory:
- Name changes are granted at the Probate Court in Elyria (225 Court Street). It's wise to call the court in advance to verify their hours; said hours have been known to be somewhat erratic. Their number is (440) 329-5175.
- Go to the Probate Court, armed with an I.D., proof of residence (like the utility bills the college sends out before elections), the name change form, an original copy of your birth certificate, and a checkbook (the filing fee is almost $100 as of October, 2009).
- They'll set up a court date, and you likely won't have any say in the matter; you may have to skip classes, etc. Fortunately, "I have to appear in court" is the best possible excuse for not going to class.
- Ohio requires all name changes to be publicized in a newspaper at least 30 days before the court date, so the court will give you a form to take to the newspaper. There's a newspaper office a few blocks down the street (The Chronicle Telegram at 225 East Ave.). The court is pretty persnickety about which newspaper you publish in, so swinging by the Chronicle Telegram office is probably the best option. As of October, 2009, the publishing fee was about $40, and they don't take checks, just credit/debit and cash. Make sure they will send proof of publication to your OCMR, and not to some other address. You are required to bring proof of publication to your court date.
- Show up to your court date and let the people in the office know you are there. They may be running late, but the court recommends that you arrive 15 minutes early. You're allowed to take friends with you, even into the hearing; just make sure they behave.
- Answer questions succinctly and politely; the hearing itself should take only 15 minutes. They will likely want to know why you want to change your name, and how long you've wanted to. If you brought friends, those folks may be asked to support or speak against changing your name.
- You will receive five copies of the court order, which can go to places like the Social Security Office (another trek; to Lorain this time), to any other government office that needs one, to the registrar's office, and to whomever else needs a copy. Most places only need a photocopy of the court order.
After Graduating Oberlin
If you've already graduated, the registrar's office can change the name on your transcript.
Oberlin does NOT change names on records after graduation except in very extraordinary circumstances. You must write directly to the Registrar if you wish to begin a conversation about changing your name.
Dealing with e-mail
- To change the name that appears when you send mail: in OCMail, click Settings > Accounts. Where it says "Send mail as", click "edit info" next to your e-mail address. This won't change your address, but it will change the name associated with it.
- To change your address: first, try contacting CIT (email@example.com). Keep in mind that your e-mail address has two forms: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (Your username is what you use to log in: first letter of your first name plus the first seven letters of your last name.) You can give people the firstname.lastname@example.org form if you don't want them to know your legal first name.
Sometimes trans students need to come out to professors - most often to clarify names or pronouns, but sometimes for other reasons. The following list, sorted by department, gives the names of some professors who have responded positively to trans students coming out, gone out of their way to respect preferred names and pronouns, or otherwise expressed support.
This list is not complete! There are many more professors at Oberlin who are allies. If you're a student who has had a positive experience with a professor, or if you're a professor who wants to express support for trans students, feel free to add to this list.
- Anthropology Amy Margaris, Erika Hoffmann
- African American Studies: Pam Brooks
- Applied Studies: Bridget-Michaele Reischl
- Art: Nanette Yannuzzi Macias, Susan Kane, Pipo Nguyen-Duy, Sarah Hamill, Susan Umbenhour
- Biology: Roger Laushman
- Chemistry: Drew Meyer
- Clarinet: Richard Hawkins
- Classics: Kirk Ormand
- Comparative American Studies: Gina Perez, Meredith Raimondo, Wendy Kozol, Kara Thompson
- Composition: Josh Levine
- Creative Writing Chelsey Johnson
- English: Wendy Hyman, Gillian Johns, Sandra Zagarell
- Environmental Studies: Camille Washington-Ottombre
- Hispanic Studies: Barbara Sawhill
- History: Renee Romano, Clayton Koppes, Ellen Wurtzel, Marko Dumancic
- Mathematics: Bob Bosch
- Musicology: Jennifer Fraser, Steven Plank
- Music Theory: Arnie Cox
- Rhetoric: Nancy Boutilier, Laurie McMillin
- Russian: Tom Newlin, Arlene Forman
- Voice: Lorraine Manz
On the flip side, some professors are unsupportive or downright discriminatory. According to Oberlin's policy about "Grievances related to academic affairs or other matters involving the teaching faculty" (http://oncampus.oberlin.edu/courses/1/SL-dean/content/_195467_1/Grievance%20Procedures.pdf), here's how to deal with a conflict with a professor:
1. Talk to the professor. Make sure they know that there's a problem, and explain what's wrong and how they can address it.
2. If the problem continues, talk to the chair of the department or program.
3. If the problem continues, talk to the Associate Dean of the Conservatory (http://www.oberlin.edu/condean/) or the Dean for Arts and Sciences (http://www.oberlin.edu/collegedean/), who has final judgment.
Other people and offices on campus who can help support you and educate your professor include:
- your advisor
- the Dean of Studies (http://www2.oberlin.edu/stlife/)
- the Ombudsperson (http://www.oberlin.edu/ombudsperson/)
- the LGBTQ Community Coordinator at the MRC (http://www.oberlin.edu/mrc/)
- the Office of Equity Concerns (http://www.oberlin.edu/Equity/Default.html)
- Tom Reid and Chris Baymiller, both Associate Directors of the Student Union, are both extremely supportive and helpful, though they may not be formally able to assist you with professors, etc.
Remember, trans students are covered by the Oberlin's non-discrimination policy.
Please don't post the names of unsupportive professors here - this article shouldn't become a blacklist. Although it's hard, dealing with harassment and discrimination through official channels does much more to change someone's behavior than posting their name online and urging others to avoid them.
As of the 2007-8 school year, Oberlin's non-discrimination policy includes gender identity and expression.
The counselors listed below have worked positively with students who are trans* or questioning gender. An asterisk (*) indicates someone who is known to write letters for students seeking hormones or surgery.
Additions to the list are welcome but as with professors, please don't post the names of unsupportive therapists here - this article shouldn't become a blacklist.
At the college Counseling Center:
- Barbara Thomas
I've had good luck with Barbara Thomas at the counseling center. She was really helpful in working through some gender and family issues I was having. She's also totally down with gender issues, in my experience. The Trans Advocacy Group also had her come in, and she did a fabulous meeting with us on how we could make TAG a more supportive space (although that was a waaaaaay long time ago).
- Farah Munir (psychiatrist)
- Katharine Hahn Oh
In the town of Oberlin:
- Diane Britt
- Edie Fuchsman*
Edie Fuchsman, a counselor in town, is a total sweetheart and has a lot of experience working with trans and gender issues. Another trans Obie of my acquaintance once said that "everybody goes to see Edie". I found her to be extremely supportive. Although I had a pretty solid self sense of my gender before I went to see Edie, she definitely seems like she would also be good if somebody wanted to do some more exploratory identity work. She is also very good at explaining things and talking through things with people, so I think that she would be a good person for somebody with a lot of questions about gender.
- Jane Miller
- Lynn Williams
As of summer 2009, Student Health will not prescribe hormones, refill prescriptions from another doctor, or do bloodwork related to hormone therapy. They will administer hormones (i.e., give you injections if you already have a prescription), and refer you to local doctors who will prescribe hormones; make an appointment with Dr. Tomblin. The Oberlin hospital will do bloodwork.
MetroHealth has established the LGBT Pride Clinic at McCafferty Health Center on the near west side of Cleveland. They are only open on Wednesday evenings from 4:30 - 8 PM and an appointment is required. There are at least two doctors on staff who have worked with trans patients, both with regards to hormones and general practice.
If you do choose to have Student Health administer your hormones (i.e., give you your injections) bring any and all documentation you have about why you are receiving hormones, including (but not limited to; more documentation is better because Student Health can be finicky)
- A copy of your letter from a mental health professional (that you needed to present to the doctor who prescribed hormones)
- The name and contact information of the doctor who prescribed the hormones
- The documentation that you received when you picked up your prescription
If Student Health decides that they do not have enough information about why you are undergoing hormone therapy, they will not administer you hormones.
On the other hand, some students have successfully gotten their hormone injections done at Student Health without showing any documentation (other than the prescription labels on their meds), so your experience may depend more on which provider you happen to see than on any specific policy.
Student Groups and Campus Resources
- Support meetings: TBA for Fall 2009(a safe space for trans, gender-variant, and questioning people)
- Advocacy meetings: TBA for Fall 2009 (open to trans people and allies)
- 76 South Professor Street
The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC)
- Wilder 208
Has a library with resources, does trans allyship trainings, and hosts trans-related speakers and events. Starting in Fall 2012, the LGBTQ Community Coordinator is Lore Espinoza.