“Queer Sphere” Gains Visibility and Recognition in Higher Education

“Queer Sphere” Gains Visibility and Recognition in Higher Education
| Staff

Whether it’s Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer outlining his journey from the world’s greatest athlete, to a surgery which induced womanhood, or actress Laverne Cox breaking the trans glass ceiling in the Netflix’s hit series, Orange Is the New Black, where a trans woman is actually played by a trans woman, the transgender community continues to break the boundaries of social acceptance. The transgender push for equality has now shattered the Higher Education glass ceiling. According to the Washington Post, starting next fall, University of California applicants will be the first wave of students given the option to signal their sexual orientation and any number of gender identities on their application.

This change is one of several new accommodations the university has made in effort to make the campus as inclusive as possible. “I think it introduces the kind of welcoming environment we want to have just by introducing the question on the first thing students will see, which is the application they’re filling out. We think it’s very important,” said Pamela Brown, vice president for institutional research and academic planning, who serves on the system-wide-advisory council on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.

UC undergraduate program applicants will now have the option to answer the following questions:

How do you describe yourself?(Mark one answer)

  • Male
  • Female
  • Trans Male/Trans Man
  • Trans Female/Trans Woman
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-Conforming
  • Different Identity

What sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate?

  • Male
  • Female

Do you consider yourself to be (Mark one answer):

  • Heterosexual or straight
  • Gay or lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Not listed above (please specify)

The university hopes to one day implement these options in graduate study and employment applications. The information will enable them to track such students in order to monitor graduation rates and determine if the support available is sufficient.

President Janet Napolitano, who pushed for these changes with the creation of a task force last summer said “it doesn’t stop [here] – we must continue to look at where we can improve so everyone at UC feels respected and supported.”

University officials note that an applicant’s answer to any of the questions holds no bearing on chances for admission.

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