Recently, we have received a lot of emails from the student community and from prospective students regarding resources available for transgender, transsexual, genderqueer and gender variant students on campus, so we have decided to put up this page in order to keep an updated list of the resources available on campus. For more information , please contact QSA Board Members.
Both Cambridge and Boston have ordinances which require all businesses to allow people to use the restrooms in accordance with their gender identity (see the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coaltion website for more details). Harvard is sometimes interpreted as a business and sometimes as an educational institution so it is not entirely clear that these rules apply. However, the QSA has been involved in training deans and other administrators on transgender and gender-variaint issues – and they seem committed to supporting student needs. While Harvard’s non-discrimination code does not yet protect students on the basis of gender identity and expression, we are confident that no official sanction will be taken against members of the Harvard community for using the bathrooms in which they feel most comfortable. We are working with University administrators to make the non-discrimination code more inclusive and currently feel encouraged that this change is in process.
Please, be safe! If you have any trouble, the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) is also trained in BGLT issues and is just a phone-call away at (617)495-1212 or 5-1212 from a blue safety phone. Cambridge police are available at 911. We have less experience with them and recommend calling HUPD if you are on or close to the Harvard Campus.
QSA believes HUPD is the best place to call for protection of your immediate safety. You should also call HUPD to report any incidents or hate-crimes associated with bathroom use and that HUPD is the best place to call for protection of your immediate safety. As you can see from their website, we are lucky to have very few hate crimes take place on our campus each year. HUPD also accepts anonymous phone calls and online reporting on their websites of hate crime incidents if you do not want to identify yourself directly.
If you have any complaints or comments about any individual or group who is stopping or hindering appropriate bathroom use, please feel free to email any QSA Board Member or Associate Dean Paul McLoughlin (email pmclough@fas), a strong ally. Either QSA or Paul will advocate on your behalf.
For students that identify as neither male nor female, the situation is a little less clear and may depend on your house. If you have any trouble negotiating safe and comfortable housing arrangements, the QSA would be happy to advocate on your behalf. The Dean of Housing or Paul Mcloughlin may also be useful allies.
The university has promised to work on housing on a case-by-case basis for each student. If you have any trouble, QSA would love to know so that we can work to set up a process where the University cannot make the same mistake again.
Housing for first-years in many situations can also be arranged in a variety of ways through any of these sources. Unfortunately, some first-years may have to choose between living in singles and living with their assigned gender, depending or their surgical or passing status. For these students, housing will be worked out in a case-by-case basis so your preferences and needs will be taken into consideration. It is definitely at least worth a phone call to Paul Mcloughlin or the Dean of Housing to figure out what they can do for you.
Be aware that in some cases, the university may ask you to visit a trans-friendly physician or mental health clinician at UHS or provide evidence of your gender in order to be housed in the way that you prefer. We are working with University administrators to develop a more respectful and comfortable process and are hoping that the university will loosen current procedures as the process streamlines.
In some situations in the past, transgender students have been placed in singles if a suitable rooming group cannot be found (this is especially common for first-years due to the fact that they do not already know their potential room mates.) If this happens to you, be sure to ask for a single in an area that is as social or as quiet as you would like it to be. If you still do not like your housing situation, file a complaint. QSA takes these issues very seriously and would be happy to organize anything from a conversation with administrators up to a large political event on your behalf.
If you are unwilling or unable to identify yourself as transgender to the administration, QSA will soon be posting a house-by-house list containing information and suggestions for the easiest ways to obtain “coed” housing in each house.
One other option not to forget about is the Dudley Co-op. It is a different living situation than the dorms and houses because students are cooking and doing chores together. We have heard great reports that the Co-op is happy to work with you towards your rooming needs. Don’t be concerned, though – most students live in the dorms and houses and we believe that all students should be able to find a comfortable and appropriate living situation in the standard dorms and houses.
University Health Services (UHS) and Off-Campus Health Providers
Most UHS clinicians have some experience with trans patients although none are experts. If you have questions about specific clinicians or would like to be connected with other trans harvard affiliates to hear about their experiences with UHS clinicians, please let QSA know. At UHS, Dr. Churchill would like students to know that he is committed to being a trans-friendly clincian. He is currently researching and learning a lot about hormone therapy and is ready to incorporate it into his practice. He and his team are ready to work with us to meet our needs.
Dr. Suzanne Westbrook has some experience with FTM transgender patients and is highly reccomended by them. She is known for being empowering rather than condescending.
According to UHS, all of their doctors are BGLT-trained and friendly. You may select any of them as your primary care clinician.
As for mental health, if you are looking for a counselor to talk to, we reccomend Sara Kimmel (skimmel@uhs) at the Mental Health Services as a great ally and fantastic clinician with a lot of experience with transgender issues and transgender clients. She recently came to Harvard from Fenway (described below).
Most students in the Boston area use Fenway or JRI Health for the majority of their trans-related healthcare such as hormone prescription. If you are referred there by a UHS clinician, your Harvard insurance may cover certain parts of your visits and both places work to be affordable. Just ask your Primary Care provider at UHS if you feel comfortable doing so. Fenway and JRI also provide mental health services. Please see the resource section of the QSA website for more information.
QSA is advocating for a more formal referral service to Fenway, JRI and other health care providers with more expertise on transgender issues, as well as for more training of on-campus clinicians. If you are interested in a more formal referral service, please let one of the Co-Chairs know.
Thomas, a transgender alumni, answers a completely confidential email address (transinfo@hcs) if you would prefer to talk to someone outside of the Harvard community.
Any Other Questions?
Also, if you are a prospective student, the admissions office should have been trained on transgender issues and should be able to direct you to the resources you need but if there are any other questions you have or if you would prefer to, please email the QSA. We’d love to hear from you. And we can tell you about our experiences at Harvard.
The MTPC is a group that educates the public, lobbies state and local government, encourages political activism, and empowers community members through collective action with the goal of ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.