Aimes Dobbins was walking home alone from a party last fall.
Despite trying to never walk alone at night, Dobbins said they got split up from their friends somewhere between the party and Collins Living-Learning Center.
While walking up the front steps of their dorm, Dobbins, one of several transgender students on campus, was confronted by another student.
“I was wearing my jean vest, and it has a rainbow flag on the top,” they said. “And I couldn’t understand him, but he was like, ‘Fag.’”
The student began pushing and shoving Dobbins after they ignored the comments and tried to walk inside.
Dobbins stood up for themselves, and eventually the student apologized, they said.
This was just one of many instances where Dobbins said they did not feel safe on campus.
“I was so scared, because one, I’m inebriated,” they said. “I just want to get home. I just want to be safe. This is my home, I should be able to come back to my home.”
Doug Bauder, the GLBT Student Support Services Office director, said the number of transgender students on campus is unknown.
There are as many people in the closet these days regarding trans issues as there were gay students 30 years ago, he said.
“It’s still a closet issue for a number of people,” he said. “But again, as more and more people tell their story, we have more and more people wanting to identify themselves.”
Some of the services the GLBTSSSO provides for trans students include counseling, assistance with living in the dorms, heightening the LGBT voice on campus and more, Bauder said.
One of the more recent issues the transgender community has been advocating for is an expansion and easier accessibility of gender-neutral and single-occupancy restrooms on campus, Bauder said.
Indiana is one of several states currently considering laws requiring transgender people to use the restroom of the gender they were assigned with at birth.
“Think about the fact that you have to pee, and you’re scared about which bathroom to go into,” Bauder said. “You’re transitioning from male to female, and do you go into the men’s room and use a stall or do you go into the women’s room? It just gets really, really frustrating at a great physical need.”
Dobbins created an online guide of all the single-occupancy restrooms on campus, which they said they hope will turn into a pamphlet for all trans students.
They said they are advocating for an increase in single-occupancy restrooms as buildings are renovated.
They are fighting for these issues because they want the transgender community to feel safe and to be respected on campus, Dobbins said.
“When people don’t understand what it means to live here, when they don’t live here, they don’t sign the diversity agreement,” they said. “When they don’t understand what it means to be a part of this diverse and accepting community that is Collins, they disrespect everything that it stands for.”