‘We‘re Still Here’: RIT Queer Protest for Hormone Therapy

By: Taylor Goethe, April 4, 2018

Rochester Institute of Technology has one of the most diverse campuses in the nation but it still struggles with allegations of racism, discrimination and hostile work environments. Credit: Tianna Mañón

Rochester Institute of Technology has one of the most diverse campuses in the nation but it still struggles with allegations of discrimination. Credit: Tianna Mañón

Students protested RIT’s mishandling of transgender healthcare yesterday. It was an effort to bring visibility to the removal of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on campus.

Last summer, many trans students receiving treatment from Dr. Annamaria Kontor were surprised to find their appointments had been cancelled. Dr. Kontor had been fired effective immediately for prescribing hormones to trans students, which is a Student Health Center (SHC) policy that had not been previously stated or enforced.

“I was upset because I have friends who were receiving  care from the health center via Dr. Kontor,” said Clover Shamis, a fourth-year Physics student and the president of the GLBTQIA alliance. She says se is one of the many trans students at the school who felt abandoned by RIT.  “I was disappointed in RIT for letting the only person giving HRT go without having a replacement.”

Many trans students who were receiving care from the SHC reportedly missed shots and lost access treatment. The closest resource for treatment is with the Trillium clinic but with an estimated six-months waitlist many RIT students are without care. The representative student organization (RSO) for LGBT students, OUTSpoken, has been scrambling to find care options for their constituents. Unfortunately, students say RIT administration hasn’t prioritized the issue.

Carrie Kidder is the director of finance for OUTspoken and a second-year double-major in Sociology and Applied Statistics and Actuarial Sciences. She explained that bringing back HRT has been top of the agenda for their e-board:

“First, we wanted a doctor trained in HRT at the health center. That didn’t become an option. So now we’re trying to either bring in an outside doctor for treatment or transporting students to clinics for care,” Kidder said.

According to Kidder, RIT has been very inactive in pursuing alternative options. Staff and faculty have even filed a petition of concern and disapproval of RIT’s handling of the situation to President David Munson. The petition was reportedly rejected by President Munson and no further policies or solutions regarding HRT has been announced. Shamis said she found the news of President Munson’s news very “disheartening”. Many of the LGBT leadership on campus find themselves backed into a corner.

“It’s frustrating. We talk to them and they say, ‘We’re working on it.’ Then two months later, we ask again and they say the same thing,” Kidder said.

Trans students at the school say the lack of care and transparency from RIT has been taking a mental toll on them. Many students report an increase of depression and have been seeking counseling. LGBT student leadership called a joint meeting to discuss their options moving forward. In an unanimous agreement the Queer Protest was organized to call attention to the gross inaction on HRT options by SHC. Shamis explains the demands students have for RIT, saying:

  • We want RIT to make a policy on HRT.
  • We want RIT to bring HRT back to campus.
  • We want to have more visibility of the LGBT community on RIT websites and pamphlets.
  • We want RIT to revise the gender neutral bathroom policy.
  • We want RIT to add LGBT content to orientation and Year One.
  • We want mandatory safe zone training for the student health center and counseling.

“There’s not much we can do. We have to wait for the health center to take action. We can do things like this but at the end of the day we’re an advocacy group. All we can do is advocate for students,” Kidder said.

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3 comments

  1. Brad G

    I’m afraid I don’t buy into the assumption here that transgenderism is a normal slice of society, when in fact it constitutes a miniscule % of society. Trying to normalize it by including HRT as part of the health services on campus is way outside the realm of required health care, most especially on a college campus. You could almost get the impression with the media attention to this macabre situation that it is an acceptable one on college campuses. After all, who is going to talk bad about those who are so confused about their sex that they willingly try to become the opposite one? This twist of reality becoming the norm betrays a certain cowardice about acknowledging reality. Transgenderism is dangerous to your health, and those who attempt alter their sex, which is impossible to actually do, end up on the wrong end of suicide way too many times. Not too many transgender advocates or protestors will ever acknowledge this reality, and too many opponents would openly advertise it. But it is absolutely the truth. RIT should not be providing HRT to those who select to alter their sex — this is a total perversion of what real health services are about. If it sounds like I care about transgenders, I really don’t. If someone is convinced that’s the only way to be happy, I can’t argue about it, and accept it. But when college students think it is a right to require HRT and whatever other services transgenderism entails, it crosses a huge line, and protestors cross another one — which is when it bothers me. If you really think this is what you want, just do it, and don’t go around shoving it down people’s throats: that’s what makes people dislike you, and by proxy, others like you. Go find your special services elsewhere, and don’t require the college you go to to provide them — obviously at the expense of other paying students.

  2. Aaron H

    Hormone therapy is a medical treatment. It is a choice that should be safely available to patients who want it in cooperation with their physician. Congrats to these students for standing up for their rights and to the allies standing with their trans, inter, non-binary, non-conforming and genderqueer brothers and sisters (friends).

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