(Chicago Tribune file photo)
Campus Pride, an organization for LGBT student leaders and campus groups, has released its first list of the U.S. colleges and universities that are the most friendly to transgender students. The top 10 list includes schools like Princeton University and NYU, but no Illinois or Chicago colleges made the upper tier.
"The best institutions are doing more and more, so we want to capture that and recognize that they're going above and beyond," said Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the scholar whose research helped guide the list.
The University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago both achieved five stars in their "gender identity/expression score," but the top schools had higher overall scores in individual policies. Criteria included whether the universities let students change their names or genders on school documents without proving they'd had surgical intervention and whether schools had anti-discrimination policies that included gender identity.
Schools' policies were also examined on whether or not their student health care insurance covered hormone and surgical procedures for those transitioning gender. Beemyn said both UIC and U. of C. cover hormone treatment, but neither cover surgical procedures.
Others in the top 10 were:University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Oregon, Ithaca College, UCLA, University of California Riverside, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Vermont.
Campus Pride said the top 10 list reflects where higher education has succeeded, and failed, at times, to protect those who are gender-nonconforming or transgender.
"I wish that more progress had been done to this point," Beemyn said, adding that the University of Iowa was the first to add protections for gender identity to its policies in 1996. "We've certainly come a long way since then. But it's still a very slow amount of progress that's been made."
Beemyn and Campus Pride said that as students are becoming increasingly comfortable with sharing their gender identity, more schools should take steps to help the trans men and women on their campus.
"There are so many students who are coming out today as transgender and gender-nonconforming," Beemyn said. "You almost can't find an institution that doesn't have an out trans population."