“Why give myself constraints if I know I can look good as both parts?” said Jibri Peavy, a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno who identifies as androgynous. “Why not play both roles? If I can play both roles, then that’s fun, that’s the fun part.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, androgyny is defined as, “having both male and female characteristics or qualities.”
“Technically everybody is androgynous because we all have masculine traits and feminine traits,” Jibri said. “You can have masculine personalities about yourself, you can squish a bug without saying, ‘Ew.’ But you have some guys who will run if they see a rat, that’s a feminine characteristic. I think it comes out in their own way, I just happen to have an extremely extroverted personality.”
In January, Jibri received a call to meet with Nye Hall Resident Director Mary Katherine Woodson. He was told that he was being relocated to Sierra Hall while an investigation took place, but he was never told why. It wasn’t until later when a student in Nye filled Jibri in that he realized his roommate had accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior.
A week later, Jibri received an email saying that the investigation was over and that he was being permanently relocated to Sierra Hall.
“This action is taken with consideration of what is in the best interests of both you and the Nye Hall community,” said an e-mail sent to Jibri by Chuck Clement, associate director of student conduct and safety. “You will need to remove any and all of your property from Nye Hall by Monday, February 3, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.
You should contact Nye Hall staff to arrange for a time when you can meet with staff to get access to the building, hopefully to cause the least impact to both you and those in Nye Hall.”
“Me and the community?” Jibri said. “Like I’m like a sexual predator or something? Jibri has filed to appeal this decision, but in the meantime, he said it’s upsetting because of the allegations that were made against him such as, “asking a question relating to the size of his roommate’s penis,” according to the e-mail from Clement.
Jibri said these allegations are false, and he believes they were just the product of an uncomfortable roommate who didn’t understand him. Jibri said he wishes that he and his roommate could have talked about the situation before the accusation, but he was never given an opportunity.
“What is the school really doing for kids that are different?” Jibri said. “It’s time for this school to know that there’s gay people all around you, but also there’s other students that are different, in different walks of life and it’s time to say, ‘You know what, if we say we’re all advancing in this age, then let’s show the world that we really are a tier one school and we are really accepting of people.’”
As of now, UNR does not have any policies specific to the transgender population, according to university provost, Kevin Carman. Carman said that though he has not been a part of conversations related to the transgender population, he is open to them.
“We take very seriously our mission to be an inclusive university and to be sensitive to the needs inclusive university and to be sensitive to the needs and concerns of students and respectful of the differences that make us a diverse university,” Carman said.
“And to the extent that we need further dialogue at this university, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further.” Many universities have decided to adopt policies geared to students who identify as transgender. Currently, there are 149 colleges that offer gender-neutral housing, so students can room with whichever gender they prefer.
Spread Awareness. That’s what Ricky Salazar, an admin at the Center for Student Cultural Diversity believes the university can do to better aid transgender students. Salazar believes once the university understands that there is a large population of transgender students at UNR, they are one step closer to taking action on issues facing these students.
“Transgender people are real, and they’re not just a thing people hear about, they’re here,” Salazar said. “They’re here, they’re in our classrooms, and they’re walking on our campus, so that awareness piece is very important.”
Recently, a student who identified as transgender came into Salazar’s office and told Salazar that he no longer wanted to attend school.
“When I asked them what the issue was, he came out as transgender, so female-to-male,” Salazar said, “[He] said that he was walking down by the social science building in Hilliard Plaza. It was an area where it’s kind of secluded and not many people walk through behind the building, and all of a sudden he just feels a kick in the back, or what he thought was a kick in the back.
He fell to the ground, was having trouble catching his breath, and when he was up again he heard someone say ‘fag,’ yell it out and [they] ran around the corner. Obviously he did not know who it was, and he was just like, ‘This is outrageous, it’s happening in school. This should be the one place I should be okay. I’m here to get my education, I’m just trying to learn.”’
Salazar said as an administrator, these are the issues that need to be focused on and tackled. “When students are attacked, when they don’t want to come to school because of who they are or what they identify as, that’s not OK,” Salazar said.
However, Salazar said the university is moving in the right direction. Currently there are gender-neutral bathrooms on the first floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union, the Mathewson IGT Knowledge Center, DeLaMare and Mackay School of Mines. According to Stewart, more are being placed into the update of the university’s master plan.
The speech and pathology department at UNR will be holding a voice therapy clinic over the summer for people in the community who identify as transgender.
“If these folks who are in transition are at a point in their journey where they’ve changed the physical, the way they actually look, the last thing they may be addressing is the way that they sound and how they get that message across to people,” said Rachael Walden, clinical director for the speech and pathology department. “How we communicate is the essence. We address these very important aspects of who we are so they can make the fullest transition.”
Graduate student Cassie Levesque is currently working on her thesis, which would allow for the optional choice on admissions forms so students can identify as something other than male or female if they want to. As for what Jibri identifies as, he said he’d rather students ask politely if they have any questions, instead of feeling uncomfortable. “I think that people just feel uncomfortable because they don’t know,” Jibri said. “Instead of feeling uncomfortable, they won’t ask. It doesn’t hurt to ask a question.”
More than anything, Jibri wants acceptance for everyone on campus. “Just be accepting, that’s it,” Jibri said. “Be open to other parties that are different from you. Nothing more I can say about that.”
Alex Mosher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.