Experiences With Gender Inclusive Housing at Fitchburg State


I would like to start by saying I have no intention of bashing the housing department here at Fitchburg state. I think given the resources available, they are doing a good job doing what they can to support queer students and those seeking gender inclusive housing. That being said, there are certainly places where things can be improved, and I’d like to highlight those as well. What I do want to discuss is my experiences with housing as a trans person. I came to Fitchburg state in 2020, starting my transition officially days before moving in. I reached out to my RA, who directed me to housing, and in the beginning it was incredibly helpful. I had scheduled an in person meeting where we discussed what would work best for me, and within the next 6 hours I had moved dorms and been assigned a new bathroom in the LGBTQ+ RLC in Russell towers.

A lot has changed since that day. I am extremely fortunate and have been able to successfully legally and medically transition over the last 3 years. All of my years at Fitchburg I have lived in a single dorm, a choice I’ve made mostly out of concern for rooming as a trans person. From what I’ve seen, the portal online assigns students to housing according to what they have listed as the student’s legal sex. That is understandable, and in my case was never an issue as I sought out singles.

The issue I started to run into this year though, was related to that very concept. In the state of Massachusetts, where I am a resident, my gender has legally been changed. I am medically and legally transitioned, and if you’ve never had to change your name and gender marker, which is the majority of people, you don’t understand how much paperwork, how many court trips, and how much of a hassle it truly is. The process took about a year, but it’s done now. I assumed that when I went to the school and handed them my paperwork to update everything, they would change that housing system as well. I was not given that as my response though.

When I turned in my paperwork changing my legal name and gender to the registrar, I was informed that the name change was processed correctly, but that the school’s software was unable to process the gender change. Despite the state of Massachusetts legally recognizing it. Once again, I have no intention of bashing anyone in the departments responsible for this, or housing, as everyone I’ve spoken to has been incredibly kind and helpful. I truly do believe that the people working here are doing their best to support trans students, but even if they’re not the issue, there is still a clear issue.

Going back to housing, this essentially means that if I didn’t want a single, or if I wanted to room with a friend who’s the same gender as me, I would have to schedule a meeting with housing every year to ensure that I don’t get locked out of rooming with a roommate of my same gender. This isn’t the fault of anyone at housing or the registrar, but it is another unnecessary hoop that trans students who have loads of other things to update and change and worry about have to jump through.

The solution to this problem is not a simple one, and I have been informed it is one that the school is currently working on, but it is something that should be discussed and understood by trans students who may be looking for housing, or cisgender friends and allies of trans people. Fitchburg State University is doing a lot for its trans students, and that is not something to overlook, but there is still room for growth, and I hope that in my time here or the time after, future trans students will not have these same issues.