Being Queer at UW

Do you feel comfortable being queer at UW? I’m just wondering because I visited this fall and I would love to go to an accepting college and escape what seems like the only homophobic area in California. Also, thanks so much for this blog, it really helps.

Honestly, I really do. It’s hard for me to tell if this is a product of luck or if this is the overall climate of the campus, but I have had an almost exclusively amazing experience being queer. At the beginning of my time here, I went to two different events hosted by the Q Center: an open house and a welcome luncheon. I’m a really shy person so it’s not like I necessarily thrived and immediately made a ton of friends BUT some of the first faces I saw on campus outside of my dorm were queer faces, and there were a lot of them. If you do come here, I really recommend hitting up the things we put on during Dawg Daze (a week long string of stuff on campus for newcomers to get used to the place and have fun and etc). We did some info sessions this year and within the space of three different hour long get-togethers we had organized new clubs, people had found common interests (there were a LOT of people into roller derby at the first one), etc., and it was really cool to watch everyone mesh and figure their stuff out.

I took advantage of natl. coming out day last year to make a big ol’ heartfelt post on Facebook about my queer identity, and though I was by no means “in the closet” it was the first time I was really articulating it to EVERYONE in my life, not just the people I’m very close to. I lived in the Honors community housing, which was really amazing for a lot of reasons, and even though I hadn’t really made any deep connections at that point, over thirty people from my floor liked the post and affirmed my identities and were so unbelievably supportive in the way that I needed it most: casually.

My worst experience was, ironically enough, in a class focused on oppressed groups and their representation in Hollywood. I had to do a group final project on heteronormativity and about half of my group was so overwhelmingly homophobic and transphobic it was a real challenge to get through the class. I regret not talking to my teacher about it because I know they would have done something (which I’m about to follow up on), but I did at least find solace in the other half of the group, who were incredibly supportive and kind. The group was really heavily polarized and it’s not something I want to experience again.

That said, one of the best experiences I’ve had here was this past quarter, in my Psych 101 class with Kevin King. I was definitely not the most committed person to the class; for the first half of the quarter I sat in the near back and texted my friends instead of actually paying attention to what he was teaching and what I could learn from it. There came a point where he did an activity where students would first click in that they were male or female and then participate in an onscreen poll. It made me incredibly uncomfortable, and I emailed him about it the second I had a chance. Not only did he respond immediately, empathetically,  and graciously, but he then worked with me over the course of a few emails to figure out how he could change the way he talked about certain things to make them more queer friendly.

In the end I got him to start using phrases like “assigned sex” and the like, and it significantly improved my experience in the class. I started sitting about four rows from the front, my grades shot up, I was getting more out of the class, etc. I later introduced myself to him in person and I began to make a point of it to approach him after class to talk about a few of the issues he touched on in a more intersectional lens, which doesn’t really get to happen in the context of a 101 class. It was a really incredible experience for me! From this all I can say is I highly recommend talking to a professor if something rubs you the wrong way, even if it’s a professor with 400+ students per lecture. It’s worth your time, and there’s a lot of support to be found on campus; luckily the support isn’t hard to find.

I’m glad that this blog has provided something for you, and I’m happy to help! Thank you for keeping up with it. If you end up choosing the UW, we’ll be lucky to have you.


Genderfluidity and Hormone Therapy

I was designated male at birth, but I identify significantly more often as feminine than masculine. I’ve been referring to myself as genderfluid, but I think I fall somewhere on the male-to-female trans spectrum. Is hormone therapy something to consider if I don’t know if I identify fully as a woman, but want a feminine body?

I’ll be honest with you, I really don’t know a lot about hormone therapy! I only know a handful of people who undergo/have undergone it and it’s never something I’ve very seriously considered by myself, so my knowledge on the specifics of it are little to none and I can’t really draw on that in responding to this. But I think the real question is, do you think the result of hormone therapy will be beneficial to you? Because just from this question and the way it was phrased, it feels like the answer is yes (but that’s up for you to decide!). You don’t need to identify within the gender binary to want the physical changes that come with certain trans-oriented medical treatments, just as looking a certain way will never qualify or justify your gender identify any more than you want/need it to.  Don’t hold yourself to the expectations that people have of those who undergo hormone therapy when your comfort and happiness is something that could be tremendously improved! There are some cool people over at Hall health that are way more qualified to talk to you about this in its specifics and in the actual process of making this massive transition, and I really encourage you to go talk to someone about it. I hope this helps and I’m sorry that I don’t have more to offer from my end on this. Good luck!


Am I Asexual?

I think I’m asexual but I’m not exactly sure. I do still have a sexuality, as in I want to date girls, but I don’t want anything sexual. Is this still asexual or is it another thing entirely?

I’m gonna go ahead and say that you PROBABLY rest within the realm of the asexual spectrum, just from what you’re giving me here, but I really don’t want you to just take that away from this response. Note the use of the term “spectrum” in addressing asexuality; I have a lot of problems with the way asexuality is talked about (half-heartedly) and taught (note: it isn’t), but one of the things that bother me most is the way that Sexual vs. Asexual are so heavily locked into opposing binaries. It’s just so inaccurate and pigeonholing and frustrating! Within the asexual community (and there’s a pretty strong one! check out the forums on asexuality.org), there are a few different terms thrown around to differentiate the flavors of being ace. Demisexual, greysexual, aromantic, etc. etc. Take from those what you will… I always feel like relying too heavily on words is dangerous when talking about something very intrinsic to your individuality, but there is definitely solace in seeing that this thing you feel is felt by others! One thing that a lot of people find very useful is discerning between sexual and romantic attraction and seeing how this plays out for people who AREN’T asexual. For example, someone who doesn’t have a very strong preference when it comes to hooking up with someone but only has interest in getting seriously involved with girls. With this in mind, it’s definitely a Thing for you to want to date girls but have no interest in becoming sexual with anyone. Asexuality in its simplest form is a person who does not experience sexual attraction; not a person who doesn’t date, not a person who has no libido, not even a person who doesn’t have sex! Just someone who does not experience sexual attraction, or even just experiences it in such low amounts that the lack thereof is noticeable. I really recommend checking out AVEN, there’s a lot of good discussions happening all the time and I think you’ll find you really are not alone in this one! Hope this helped!