No bravery required; you're supposed to be here - Upcomer

No bravery required; you’re supposed to be here

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“Excuse me — you in the back? I think you’re in the wrong room.”

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There is this hotness I feel rising through my body. It starts at my ears, then my chest, until soon I’m very aware of how uncomfortable I feel. I didn’t think the group in the lecture center was particularly big, but with seemingly every eye on me the large classroom felt filled to capacity.

I think back to a year prior, at the New York Institute of Technology. It’s 2006 and I’m sitting in the office of the dean of freshman students. I’ve just told her I don’t feel very comfortable on campus. It’s been a little more than a month since I came out as Trans and things haven’t been going too well.

I was just starting to experiment with my authentic self, but I met opposition at every turn. Whether professors openly mocked me, students committed microaggressions, or my roommates acted outright aggressive — it was hard to want to learn.

At the time, NYIT had no sexuality non-discrimination policy. Things were so bad, the LGBTQIA club was an underground thing. You had to know someone to be invited, and its members rarely met. And there I was, feeling very small in this office, finding out that the school had nothing to offer me. That, despite her role to set up freshmen for success, she was telling me I would need to make my own life jacket.

“We just don’t have a policy in place to protect students like you. I know that isn’t what you want to hear. But you can help change that. If you stick it out, you can help the administration see —”