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Opinion: Gender Inclusive Housing process at ASU is insensitive and needs reform

ASU should make more serious efforts to fix issues like misgendering and deadnaming of students in the Gender Inclusive Housing application process

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"Students applying for Gender Inclusive Housing continue to face problems. This process needs reform to prevent insensitivity and promote respect by taking every single student's needs into consideration."

In Fall 2016, ASU began offering Gender Inclusive Housing, meaning students are allowed to room with others of a different assigned gender at birth. ASU has limited space available for Gender Inclusive Housing, and the requests are accommodated based on availability. 

That being said, many students interested in Gender Inclusive Housing will apply directly to its designated portal. However, when given lottery times, students applying for Gender Inclusive Housing continue to face problems. This process needs reform to prevent insensitivity and promote respect by taking every single student's needs into consideration.

Jupiter Chao, a freshman studying psychology at ASU, said they had difficulty applying to Gender Inclusive Housing for the upcoming academic year. Chao found three other people through the housing portal who all applied to gender-inclusive housing and created a roommate group through the designated portal.

"When we got our lottery times we all got the same message on the screen that we can't make a roommate group with people of a different gender at birth than yours … But the wording is what really bugged me, especially since they basically undermined the entire process," Chao said.

The message was insensitive to students applying for gender-inclusive housing, and shocking after ASU's claims of providing a respectful and safe space in the gender-inclusive housing process, but students are continually misidentified. Chao said even though their situation was resolved, the University never reached out with an apology or update on the housing process as a whole.

Previous students have had similar problems with the University continuously deadnaming and misgendering them, leading some to believe that ASU is not actively doing anything substantial to prevent this insensitivity.

"We were all kind of taken aback, really frustrated because they hadn't mentioned anything about (the insensitive message) that we’d seen before … it just came as a shock and none of us were happy about it," Chao said of their experience with the application process.

The main problem is not just a difficult and confusing process considering limited availability, it is that the University is clearly insensitive to the very students it claims to cater to.

Through the Gender Inclusive Housing FAQ page, the University said, "Each of the residential colleges does safety programming and activities throughout the year that educate the community members on personal safety, respect for self and others, as well as well-being."

ASU should stick to its word and respect all students regardless of demographic, in this case, gender. It seems very hypocritical that ASU offers Gender Inclusive Housing, yet still uses deadnames and genders assigned at birth when assessing a student's housing needs.

Since deadnaming can occur through generated messages and emails from the University, these need to be kept up to date. Whether it be changing ASURITE IDs or using students' correct names if they're different from their legal names on student portals, names should be taken into consideration at all times.

Furthermore, deadnaming can have detrimental psychological effects or be considered an act of psychological violence on the person using a new name.

"I would rather see an active change to it than just an apology about it or at least changing the wording of it … Because it seems like it's all for nothing if you're making us fill out a form and then putting us through the same process as everyone else with the same criteria," Chao said.

The University is prioritizing respect and security for the people who may feel discriminated against in Gender Inclusive Housing, implicitly members of the LGBTQ+ community. But how can ASU claim to be a safe space for people if they continue to disrespect students by using deadnames and referring to them according to their assigned gender at birth?

It is clear based on students' experiences applying for Gender Inclusive Housing that this process needs to be reformed.


Reach the reporter at cijennin@asu.edu.

Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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