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Utah School Denies Campus Housing to Transgender Student

CEDAR CITY — Demonstrating the need for gender neutral and inclusive housing policies for public and private universities across the nation, a 22-year-old transgender student in Utah has been denied campus housing specifically because of his gender-identity and expression.

Kourt Osborn, a youth activist who participated in the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, decided to be open and honest with his gender-identity when preparing to attend school at the public Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. Kourt approached the housing department prepared to deal with the issue of his life as a transgender person.

He prepared a long essay explaining to housing officials who he is and including some “Trans 101″ type of basic lessons on transgender people and issues they must face.

Although Kourt said the process of getting housing — he had applied to live in the male dorms — was “bumpy and stressful,” he thought things were going okay. But when he received a message from housing officials, he knew something was up.

For over an hour, Kourt met with Neuman Duncan, the director of university housing, on his way to take a math placement exam this week.

“During our conversation,” Kourt said, “he told me that a sociology professor on campus believed I was ‘not truly a transsexual’ because I do not seek sexual reassignment surgery.”

Kourt said the university will only allow him housing in male residence halls after he provides:

  • a letter from the doctor that monitors his hormone treatment;
  • a letter from his therapist saying that he has gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria; and
  • official documentation that he has had sexual reassignment surgery.

Kourt had already provided the housing department with a letter from a doctor who monitors his hormone treatment. For personal reasons, Kourt does not seek to be diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” and does not want to seek gender reassignment surgery.

He said that if he did not present the three items requested by the university, then he would not be allowed to live in male housing. At the same time, the university has denied housing for him in female housing, as well.

At this time, Kourt is not allowed to live in any part of the public university’s campus housing. He is currently considering his options and how to proceed with the issue.

“I thought it would be easiest to live in on-campus housing. I was wrong. Really wrong,” he said. “I can find other places to live, but I believe this has gone far beyond just me.

“What about other trans-people that might want to live there?”

Story courtesy of InterstateQ

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