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Undergraduate Research Journal

Abstract

Research finds that the success of transgender students is heavily reliant upon how welcome and safe they feel on their own campus. This paper aims to discuss transgender inclusion in higher education and the effects of inclusion/exclusion on transgender students. How does transgender inclusion in areas such as policy, administration, residency, and health care have an impact on the personal wellbeing of transgender students in higher education? Through a survey of 51 self-identified transgender individuals who have completed at least one semester of higher education in Nebraska, this paper describes transgender inclusion in higher education and the personal wellbeing of transgender students in higher education. Findings suggest that transgender students who do not perceive their institutions as transgender inclusive may also experience negative effects with regard to mental health, academics, and campus experience. Transgender students may face unique obstacles within higher education that must be addressed by education institutions in order to promote student success and a healthy wellbeing.

Higher education within the United States is consistently faced with controversy. Gender identity and expression within schooling has been, and continues to be, a controversial topic within contemporary society. Transgender visibility is increasing with celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox gracing the main stage and with ‘bathroom battlegrounds’ making headlines nationwide. However, despite rising visibility, transgender students and their educational needs often remain in the margins of mainstream discussion—resulting in unclear, underdeveloped, or non-existent policies2. The inclusion of transgender students in higher education within (but not limited to) areas such as policy, administration, residency, and health care may have an impact on the educational wellbeing of transgender students, including academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and mental health. Through a quantitative study of current and past transgender college students, I will describe the state of transgender inclusion in higher education and the personal wellbeing of transgender students.

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