• Fantillus Illustration

Transgender Students can face difficulty in going to college due to many factors:

Systemic Discrimination: From selecting a bathroom to use, to being bullied by peers in K-12 classes, to being prevented from participating in sports, Transgender people (especially BIPOC transgender students) have to deal with near-constant harassment and discrimination in our school system for just existing. That makes it harder to focus and study on top of your game as a transgender student, sometimes leading to lower grades and test scores. This in turn makes it harder for transgender students to even think about going to college, much less get accepted into the college program of their dreams.

Psychological: Many transgender youth also live with conditions like depression or other mental health difficulties while being students, and at a higher rate than cis students. This makes it even harder to pay attention or be present in classes. Suicide rates are higher for transgender students as well. Psychiatric care can sometimes be helpful, but is far from perfect and in some places in the US psychiatry practices can be non-confirming and outright damaging to transgender youth. Conversion therapy is one such example of psychiatric pseudoscience that can be extremely damaging and non-affirming of gender identity.

Social Support: It’s all too often we hear about families rejecting their transgender children for simply being different than expected. Without family support, the transition from High School to College is much harder. Many transgender kids are kicked out of the family household before they can support themselves just for being transgender. How can college be possible for a transgender person who is facing homelessness and food insecurity due to being abandoned by their own family?

Financial: Many transgender folk won’t have the traditional support from parents in attending college such as financial backing, due to the increased risk of being ostracized from the family group primarily because of being transgender. Although not required to be transgender, medical transitions, if opted for, can be lifesaving for many transgender folk, but is expensive in its own right. College is a BIG step for many people, and has become increasingly expensive to attend. Now imagine the nightmare of trying to find a job that pays well enough to support you, your transition goals, your college expenses, and still leaves you time and energy to devote to your studies. Also until recently in the US, it had been legal to terminate someone from employment on the basis of their gender expression.

In closing, transgender students deserve the same rights of access to quality (affordable) education, housing, food-security, social support, and healthcare, and discrimination-free employment. We’re people, with hopes and dreams and aspirations - we’ve just got a bunch more hurdles to overcome, all just for being true to ourselves.

If you’ve been moved by my words and want to help out, or are a transgender student looking for scholarships, check out Transgender First Scholarship by -

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