Is LMU Safe For Transgender/Nonbinary Students?

Monday, October 19, 2020

Is LMU Safe For Transgender/Nonbinary Students?

by Spencer Miller

When applying to universities as a transgender/nonbinary student, there are certain factors that one must consider that the average student does not. Every school is not created equal, and this is shown by the staggering differences in protections and support for LGBT+ students that certain schools have. Among LGBT+ students, transgender students are particularly vulnerable. Transgender murder rates have risen this past year with at least 33 dead compared to last year’s 26, and sexual assault and abuse rates remain terrifyingly high

LMU is a private Jesuit university, and the Catholic Church’s official stance on transgender and nonbinary identities is not one of acceptance, despite how Catholics are asked to be respectful and loving of everyone in verses such as John 15:12 and 1 Peter 4:8. However, LMU received a four out of five star rating on Campus Pride’s Index, which rates the inclusivity, safety and acceptance of LGBT+ students at schools across the U.S. With that in mind, here are some of the specific policies and procedures that affect transgender students on LMU’s campus.


One of the draws of university life is the independence that comes with living on your own. University housing is a commonly shared experience, with 94% of LMU’s freshman class living on campus pre-COVID. Transgender students in particular use student housing to move out of unaccepting households and begin their transition process both socially and physically, as well as leave an environment that may be abusive due to their identity.

Currently, LMU does offer co-ed housing, but dorm rooms are separated by gender. While there are no official documents specifically addressing housing policies for transgender students, section IX of LMU’s Student Housing Policies prevents guests of the opposite sex from occupying a student’s room from the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM. By creating rules based on biological sex rather than gender, LMU’s policies can make transgender students feel uncomfortable, leading to situations such as awkward encounters in communal bathrooms, difficulty finding roommates, and an overall sense of being an outsider within the living space. 

Due to the current pandemic, student housing on campus is severely limited. There has been no evidence that transgender students’ specific needs have been taken into account, or if there has been any bias for or against transgender students when selecting the students allowed to remain on campus this semester.


Adequate healthcare is important for all students, but it is especially critical for transgender and nonbinary students. Many transgender and nonbinary people choose to physically transition in order to lessen gender dysphoria, and hormones and surgery can be costly without the help of insurance. In addition, due to gender discrimination and dysphoria, many transgender and nonbinary people suffer from depression and other mental illnesses with 40% having reported attempting suicide at least once in their life in 2015.

LMU’s offers student health insurance under Aetna Student Health and covers a variety of services, including transgender-specific care. Some of the specific services they provide are inpatient and outpatient care for surgeries, mental health office visits relating to gender dysphoria, and hormone and speech therapy. All of the services by Aetna are covered the same way and with in-network doctors, insurance covers either covers 80% of costs or 100% of costs with a small copay, which is the same as similar procedures that are not specific or exclusive to transgender and nonbinary patients. 

Harassment Policies

Transgender and nonbinary people are particularly vulnerable to prejudice, discrimination and harassment due to their gender identity, biological sex and gender expression. The comments made and actions taken due to stigma and the intolerance of their peers has a large effect on their mental health and impacts their ability to obtain an education. 

LMU has explicit anti-discrimination policies regarding prejudice on the basis of sex, gender identity, and gender expression. These policies also take a hard stance against any bias-motivated incidents or hate crimes relating to a person’s perceived gender. According to LMU’s 2019 Safety Report, no hate crimes have been committed against transgender students on campus between 2016 and 2018, though there is no section within the report regarding bias-motivated incidents.

In addition to anti-discrimination policies, LMU also has developed an Implicit Bias Initiative. Since 2018, all incoming first-year students have been required to attend implicit bias workshops created by LMU CARES to prevent discriminatory acts against minority students, but there are no formal reports on whether they are effective. No data on how safe transgender students feel at LMU have been collected at this time. 


The common “restroom debate,” or the argument about whether transgender people should be able to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender rather than their sex assigned at birth, has been a prominent fixture in transgender rights policies. Many public facilities have been implementing all gender or gender-neutral restrooms and single-stall restrooms to be more inclusive to both binary transgender people and nonbinary people, who do not identify as either male or female. 

In a message from the Office of the President from 2016, President Snyder announced that “Student Affairs is working with Facilities Management to create additional all-gender restrooms by fall 2016.” 

While these all-gender restrooms on LMU’s campus do exist, they are not marked anywhere on multiple official maps of LMU’s campus, including the General and Interactive maps for the Westchester Campus. This makes it difficult for transgender and nonbinary students to identify safe places for them to use the restroom without discomfort. In addition, there are no all-gender restrooms available in the majority of dorms.


Cost of attendance is often a large factor when deciding what university to attend. The transgender community as a whole experiences high rates of poverty in the U.S. due to discrimination and, in many cases, being cut off from their families from a young age. Because of this, pursuing higher education can be difficult financially for many transgender and nonbinary students.

LMU currently has a list of scholarships and scholarship tools available to students. However, LMU has no official scholarships of their own specifically geared toward or exclusively for transgender and nonbinary students or LGBT+ students in general. This acts as a barrier for many transgender/nonbinary students pursuing a degree at LMU that would benefit from their financial support and could cause many LGBT+ students to transfer or attend different universities.

General Resources

LMU has an LGBT Student Services office (LGBTSS) that provides a variety of services and resources for LGBT+ students, including transgender and nonbinary students. Some resources include one-on-one and group counseling through LGBTSS or through Student Psychological Services (SPS), providing a space for transgender and nonbinary students to discuss their issues and receive assistance with mental and emotional trauma. LGBTSS holds both educational and social gatherings and workshops to help engage straight and cisgender people in discussions about the LGBT+ community and allow for LGBT+ students to interact and strengthen community ties with each other. 


LMU has many services in place for their transgender and nonbinary students, especially with regards to anti-harassment policies and healthcare for transgender-specific needs. However, the university lacks proper facilities for transgender and nonbinary students with regards to housing and restrooms on campus. While the university has been making progress, there is still room for  LMU to grow to become a truly safe and welcoming environment for its transgender and nonbinary students.

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