Kelsey’s College Lesbianage: Queer Talk On Being Straight At Bryn Mawr

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Autostraddle’s College Lesbianage: a glimpse of college life through the wide eyes of six freshly fallen snowflake first-year queers. This month’s update will be given individually! Today we’ve got Bryn Mawr’s Kelsey with some thoughts on “queer privilege.”

feature image via The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center

Some people at Bryn Mawr seem to believe that straight people here are marginalized. I’ve heard students, both straight and queer, express sentiments along the lines of, “It’s easier to be gay at Bryn Mawr,” and even some members of the college staff have implicitly expressed this same view. In my experience, there seems to be an often unspoken understanding that, while queer people are oppressed in the rest of the world, it just doesn’t work that way at Bryn Mawr. Here, somehow, queer people are the privileged ones.

When I was in junior high, I spent a lot of my time in a social group that was composed entirely of Asian American students… and me. I never felt like I fit in. I was constantly aware of my whiteness, aware of how I felt othered every day, wasn’t as much a part of the group as I wanted to be. But, as I got older and engaged in discussions about race, I realized that, although my experience of exclusion was real and valid, it didn’t mean that my white privilege ceased to exist in the space where I was a minority. No matter how ostracized I felt during junior high, I only had to walk down the hall or step into a classroom to find white-dominated spaces, spaces where I constantly observed white students stereotyping and excluding non-white students because of their race. I may have spent a lot of time in the one group in my junior high where my race was in the minority, but that didn’t mean that my white privilege no longer existed there – in fact, it was more relevant than ever. Once I got to high school and came out as queer, I found myself constantly seeking queer-dominated spaces, spaces where I felt safe and accepted discussing my sexuality. Only one such space existed in my high school – the Gay Straight Alliance – and it was there that I found a home during my senior year, a space where gay wasn’t taboo. I obviously do not know the experiences of my Asian American peers, but now I think that their social group in junior high, the one I tried to be a part of, may have done the same for them as the Gay Straight Alliance did for me. It gave them a place to be themselves, to explore their identities mostly apart from members of the dominant groups. I may have felt excluded by my Asian American peers, and I’m sure that my straight friends may have felt excluded by me and my queer friends.

Ideally this wouldn’t happen, but we do not live in an ideal society. We live in a society that privileges some groups over others and, in this flawed context, subordinated groups banding together is not just okay or understandable – it’s good. It creates a space for community, for empowerment and  for people to work to change the world that hurts them. And if this means that there are some spaces that are not as open to members of privileged groups, that’s okay with me, because those people have the rest of the world to find a home for themselves.

So what does all of this mean for Bryn Mawr, a college where all of the students, regardless of identity groups, need to come together for learning and community? First, to anyone who believes that straight people are marginalized at Bryn Mawr, I suggest that there are many spaces on campus where heterosexuality remains dominant. Bryn Mawr is a very accepting community, but there are many times when I hesitate to mention my queerness or make a gay joke for fear of what the straight people around me will say. Just like in junior high, where I spent enough time in the one space where my race was in the minority, I believe that there are many places on campus where straight sexuality is the norm.

But what about the other spaces? I cannot deny that there are spaces at Bryn Mawr where queerness is dominant, where heterosexual students may feel marginalized because of their sexuality. This is a real occurrence, and I do not mean to suggest that it’s not painful – I vividly recall how much junior high school hurt sometimes and I wish that no one had to go through that experience. But the reality is that people who belong to subordinated identity groups experience exclusion every day of their live. For some queer students, Bryn Mawr may be the first place where they’ve ever been able to be open about their sexuality. And so I hope that straight students who feel left out in the queer-dominated spaces at Bryn Mawr realize the importance of these spaces and respect that sometimes there have to be spaces that aren’t as open to the majority for the minority to have a home.

It’s also important to realize that some straight people experiencing exclusion in queer-dominated spaces doesn’t mean that straight people no longer have privilege, even at Bryn Mawr. We live in a world where queer people are systematically denied rights and opportunities – many queer people can’t get married, are kicked out of their homes, are bullied in school and are even murdered because of their sexuality. As much as it may feel like a bubble sometimes, Bryn Mawr is a part of this social context, and that means that everything that happens here is affected by our larger society. Queer people can’t escape discrimination just by going to school here.

Audre Lorde once said, “Without community, there is no liberation…but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.” We should all be able to create community and liberation at Bryn Mawr, regardless of our identities. But in that process, we can never forget that our differences are made real by the society we live in and that sometimes we have to embrace separation in the hope of one day coming together.

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Kelsey has written 2 articles for us.


  1. As someone who grew up on the Main Line maybe 15 minutes from Bryn Mawr – yes, you are definitely in a bubble. Get off campus for five minutes and you’ll be surrounded by straight white upper class privilege.

  2. This is a great article. I’ve had back and forth arguments with a number of my queer friends and allies about whether we have the right to have queer-only spaces, and it’s frustrating explaining the necessity for them.

  3. Before there is any talk about how queerly queer Bryn Mawr is, it needs to be pointed out that Bryn Mawr’s queerness only applies to cissexual queer women and trans masculine queer people who are legally female. That’s not queer, that’s cis-queer and really, not so very all queer-accepting in my book. Read this link and ask yourself if it’s only straight people who are marginalized? At least they get to attend the school unlike…

    • ok, just to clarify — this is a hot topic among all women’s colleges right now (smith just had a really publicized issue of denying a transwoman admittance). i don’t want to comment on that — although i think it is extremely important — but, having gone to bryn mawr and experienced its “queerly queer”-ness — i think it is crazy awesome and important that a space like that exists at all. i agree that the college (esp. its administration, board of trustees, and most recent president) has a LOT of growing/updating yet to do, but i feel very blessed to have participated in such a community of gay gay gayness. i cant imagine what college would have been like if i had felt a lack of queer visibility on campus, had trouble meeting other gays, or did not have a social circle of homos (including many transmen/genderqueer/etc) to hang out with, waste time with, learn with, and ultimately grow up with. i agree that transwomen should be accepted at bryn mawr. but, hey, while i was there, the first out transman graduated, and i think that’s pretty damn cool. again, there is room for growth, but i would definitely not try to marginalize how accepting bryn mawr is of a lot of communities of people who are not even treated as humans at some other colleges. i hope, in the future, that bryn mawr does start openly accepting transwomen; however, i don’t think it’s right to put the place down as “not queer” because of that issue.

      anassa kata QUEERMOS!

      • See this sentence from Kelsey’s piece:

        “while queer people are oppressed in the rest of the world, it just doesn’t work that way at Bryn Mawr. Here, somehow, queer people are the privileged ones.”

        Well, it’s not true and I’m rejecting some of the fundamental premise of this essay. CERTAIN queer people have a great situation at this school, while certain other queer people aren’t even permitted to attend the school (not even talking about financial privilege). A society/community is only as accepting as its most oppressed members are treated. So while I’m happy FAAB queer women, FAAB genderqueer people and FAAB transmasculine people have found a save place at Bryn Mawr, to suggest it’s such a queer positive space even though it doesn’t permit trans women to even be in that space is totally bragging with blinders on. And I might remind you trans women students (and trans men) are accepted at virtually all public colleges and universities, so to try and place Bryn Mawr or Smith as high on the accepting and queer-positive spectrum is just clueless.

        • I’m so glad you brought up the unwritten issue of the discriminatory administration (and the administration of several women’s colleges, as other commenters have pointed out!) rejecting the identities of trans* women as valid in their institution and thus vastly limiting the scope of queerness within a purportedly “queer-friendly” place. It’s definitely an issue of “cis-queer” privilege that needs to be acknowledged. That being said, I think when Kelsey wrote that queer people are privileged at Bryn Mawr she was expressing the opinion that she’s heard a lot of the Bryn Mawr community express, and then she spends the rest of her essay trying to explain why this is based on a false premise. I think the point you bring up could just bolster the argument that she’s trying to make–that although Bryn Mawr might seem like queer paradise, it still functions within a society that is (and is itself) dominated by cis privilege. It strengthens her idea that just because there’s a cis-queer community there (which is still awesome and great and needed desperately!) that doesn’t mean that queer people have privilege anywhere else, or even there. As you’ve pointed out, that’s clearly not true for our trans* women sisters who aren’t even allowed to be a part of that community.

          Anyways, thanks for the essay, Kelsey!

          • Exactly. While I can certainly understand the criticisms of this piece that point to the narrowness of the experience of queerness that it presents, I really think they are missing the point of K’s commentary, which is about the value and validity of creating, inhabiting, and embracing queer space wherever we can, as an act of radical community care and in defiance of our erasure virtually everywhere else. While Gina’s points about Bryn Mawr’s queer community being limited in the larger context of the broader range of queer identity are absolutely valid, the sentence that has been highlighted seems to be taken out of context somewhat- the point is not that Bryn Mawr is some kind of queer utopia, the point is that it’s perceived to be by some of the students- those for whom marginalization has largely been a non-issue. Notably (and ironically), that perception arises largely as a result of their exposure to this (admittedly) quite limited range of queer expression, a fact which, as K seems to be pointing out, serves to highlight the depth and breadth of entitlement, insulation and privilege within some portions of the straight community at BMC. Her point is not that Bryn Mawr is an LGBTQ haven, it’s that one straight person’s encounter with a queer (or even a group of us) who refuses to cringe or apologize does not herald the arrival of the post-homophobic society.

          • Miranda, I get where Kelsey was going and mostly agree with what she’s saying, I just think that any mention of schools like Bryn Mawr as a seeming “queer paradise” (whether you’re unpacking the reality of that image or not) which don’t mention how certain classes of women and queer women aren’t even permitted at the school is discussing the issue in a very narrow sense. And sadly this delusion about such places aren’t just “straight person’s” flawed thinking (and, btw, I’m a straight identified woman who is trans or, at least, a heterosexual one) is just a piece of the puzzle… that cis queer women are all too willing to overlook who’s getting stopped at the door of their own “queer paradise” so long as it doesn’t immediately impact them. While I don’t doubt the insularity and entitlement of many straight women at Bryn Mawr, I think it also behooves cis queer women to unpack their own assumptions about their “queer accepting schools.”

    • I think it’s totally justifiable to put down a place as not queer when it only accepts a certain type of queer people (cis female queer people or trans* male queer or not queer people). I’m sure I could go to Bryn Mawr and have a fantastic time as a cis queer woman doesn’t make it any better that my friends who are trans* women can’t, just means I am valuing my cis privilege over the rights of others to have their identities recognized.

      Gina says in her comment it’s not queer, but also suggests the term “cis-queer” which is accurate while still allowing it to be recognized as queer.

    • I have to admit I didn’t know Bryn Mawr was a women’s college, so I just assumed it was a trans* inclusive queer space when I was reading the article.

      So it seems like these women’s colleges are saying they won’t admit trans* women because they’ll lose their “women’s college status.” This is the only argument I ever see that makes any sense. Who is granting this status? How do we get them to change their policy? Since they’re the ones making the rules, what’s their excuse? Please don’t tell me it’s the government.

    • Thanks for this Gina. I can see why Bryn Mawr and many other women’s colleges might be considered to be a safe space for FAAB queer people, but we have to remember that not all women are accepted there. :( So this is a specific type of queer space, not an everyone queer space or even an all queer women space.

  4. This piece just seems so contrived to me. What is it you’re actually trying to say? Was this an essay for one of your first-year studies?

    • As some one who attends Bryn Mawr, I do not think this is contrived. I think this article relevant to Bryn Mawr’s campus and tactfully written. I appreciate that Kelsey validated both feelings/opinions on campus, without attacking either- which so often happens.

    • I’m going to assume that the questions you ask are real questions and not rhetorical questions asked in a meanish way because assuming positive intent is a great thing! And I’m not going to speak for Kelsey, but what I got from the piece is that some people seem to think that there’s a limited amount of tolerance that must be doled out to different groups and that if it’s more okay to be gay at bryn mawr than at most other places, it must be less okay to be straight. and that that’s not actually true. and this was not an essay for school, everything we put on lesbianage is written for the site.

  5. This reminds me of when I visited Austin, TX & one of my gf’s acquaintances said how ‘gay’ Austin was and it needed to be ‘straightened out.’ Like excuse me, if you go ANYWHERE ELSE in the state of Texas, I’m sure it’ll be a safe place for a cis white straight dude. Thanks for writing this.

    • Yup. As a former (and proud) Austinite, I agree completely. And even in the city itself, you’ll still see plenty of homophobia, transphobia and racism around the fringes.

  6. “It’s also important to realize that some straight people experiencing exclusion in queer-dominated spaces doesn’t mean that straight people no longer have privilege”

    YES. That’s a great explanation of why all types of “reverse discrimination” don’t really exist. “Reverse racism” and “reverse sexism”… In mainstream culture, a privileged person is still a privileged person.

    • Yeah, that’s what I came to say as well. Thank you for this, Kelsey! I love how you pointed and unpacked the invisible straight knapsack situation happening at Bryn Mawr.

  7. I don’t know exactly what I’m feeling about these words—but I certainly know that I’m feeling…. something. Thank you for writing this and making me consider something I had not given much thought to before.

  8. Kelsey,

    While I get that you are primarily writing from a queer cis perspective, which is totally valid, I do think that at least making note that trans women are still almost uniformly excluded from Bryn Mawr (and including some link to that larger conversation) would have been appropriate. Otherwise I thought this was a really good article.

  9. I really enjoyed this article.

    From the comments there seems to be some confusion over how accepting the student community is regarding ‘queerness’. It is up to the admissions board to decide who gets into the College – not the student community. While the student community can protest against discriminatory admission policies, they have no power as to who the College ultimately accepts. Considering this, I do believe that the community should be seen as ‘queer inclusive’ as they are, from this article, accepting of anyone who attends the College who identifies as a sexual minority (lesbian, bisexual, pan sexual, etc). The actions of the admissions board should not detract from this and the overall message of the article.

  10. i understand the college’s hesitancy to not admit people who may still legally identified as male because, as per the article link posted by Gina, it does open up the “are we co-ed now” can of worms. it doesn’t seem like there’s an overt prejudice against transwomen, but that there are technical legalities that they are concerned about, mainly, entirely changing the culture of the college by admitting legal males. i’m not sure how many cis males would want to apply, but i think that is the college’s concern. the alumnae might freak if it became technically co-ed as well, and the alumnae have a huge say so in most private colleges.

  11. ****I’m going to blunt…

    Do a lot of these cis queer women spaces fear about the transwomen “trans* regret”?

    What kills me about the argument of transwomen in women’s college space is the whole “oh, are we co-ed now?” is that the gleaming shining cis-privlege thinking “these people are presenting as female-identified individuals” and the rare case of a pig flying humping a unicorn, these hopeful MAAB women are like “jk, I’m really do identify with my MAAB body therefore I’m a man, haaar!” But you have transmen graduating…I’m confused.

    What kills me to point I should ascend my death and be a zombie is that these amazing women colleges I keep hearing about are usually white as lily flower so the part of intersectionality is NEVER addressed but whatever, “cis-women pride!!!!”

    I’m going to look at Spelman College (for intersectionaly purposes to make things less white in this conversation of tanswomen admission ) admission policy. I’ll e-mail the people I need to on this site when things get interesting and hopefully sexy. Bye!!!****

    **** I’m speaking as a cis black queer women so if I so apologize if I was clumsy in my language and I find this to be too important of a conversation to ignore!

    • I know the legality issue “people legally male on their papers” but c’mon, I would like to think one of the more evolved reasons we have college interviews, mission statements and actual numbers is to know the potential student? The whole “all will men apply” feel to me, “what about the bathrooms!?”

      I’m not about it! I’m about transwomen feeling confident in an environment that accepts them especially with all the other women to learn and grow, I mean goddam is it that hard? *SIIIIGHHHHH*

      • You’re right, I don’t understand most of what you wrote, but there is the larger issue of changing the whole dynamic of the college and making it co-ed, on paper at least because I don’t know how many cis men would apply. If a person is male on paper, that’s the reality the college has to deal with regarding ITS identity and legacy, and I think that’s a decision they have a right to make. They’re not anti transwoman, they’re just protecting their culture as an all female campus.

        college interviews and all that are nice, but the single most significant data point for this woman’s college seems to be legal gender and that has everything to do with who the college is.

        i don’t think it’s about “cis women pride,” at all, but not opening the door to changing the entire culture of the college and identity as a female space.

        • The issue is that they’re not an “all-female” campus, they allow trans* men to graduate (I would guess that most trans* men at women’s colleges were not out when applying). So it’s not solely a female space, and even if it were a female space, there’s no reason that transgender women can’t be part of a female space. They absolutely should be.

          So maybe the issue is that it’s really difficult to get a legal gender marker changed as a young person because in many places it requires surgery, which is often out of reach for a young person in regards to money or not being physically or mentally ready. Maybe that’s something that needs to be changed, OR maybe some colleges could realize they’re just using that as a cop out and they should admit ALL women.

          • Transmen are allowed because like you said they are legally female at that point, whether they were out or not. They likely hadn’t had their gender legally changed at that point. The college rep stated in that article it really was as simple as that. They can’t admit legal males without changing the character and legacy of their school. It’s not an emotional argument, but a practical and legal one. They don’t want to be Co Ed and have cis men start applying which would in all likelihood piss off the alumnae who are a huge source of their endowments I’m sure. Until something changes like you said and people can switch legal gender more easily, I don’t see a working remedy in the near future.


            below is a legal argument regarding whether or not it will change legal status (hint: it won’t). The problem is simply interpretation of Title IX.


            I don’t believe for a second that it would change the “character” or “legacy” of the school to be trans*-inclusive, and they can easily figure out a way to admit all people who identify as female IF THEY CARE TO. Herein is the issue, which is whether or not the college cares to admit all women regardless of whether or not they may lose money.

            Also I didn’t point out (and I should) that legally changing gender is a completely different process in different states, etc. and somebody may be able to have a driver’s license or passport in the correct gender before being able to change their social security card or birth certificate. So which of these are we paying attention to? Calliope Wong applying to Smith had a male gender marker on her FAFSA (which uses a social security number).

            So if she didn’t require financial aid and therefore didn’t fill out the FAFSA, theoretically she could have been accepted?

            This just seems like a complete crock of bullshit to me. I don’t want colleges to start “pants-checking” to decide who gets in or not.

          • (also the reason I put “pants-checking” in quotes was a recognition of the fact that whatever is in your pants doesn’t determine your gender, and I think it’s stupidly offensive, and you can’t even determine what a person was assigned at birth by what’s currently in their pants and the whole idea makes me very mad)

          • I’m willing to bet the college isn’t overly concerned if people who don’t attend or donate money to it agree with their decisions. They do have to answer their alumnae and I’m not sure there’s a huge outcry there. What if they don’t care to admit trans women? I don’t know if they really do or don’t, but what do you do?

            I think things will change, but probably requires outreach to the broader community, and it is a broader community. And of course, the alumnae who hold the purse strings.

          • Forgot to add that, having attended an all woman’s college, the potential of having to open enrollment to cis men due to accepting legally male trans women is absolutely something that would alter the entire character, culture and legacy of the school and is not taken lightly at all, and not looked upon favorably by the alumnae who give millions to their ladies’ alma mater (donors who tend to be straight and conservative). Not trying to be an ass, but that’s a real issue.

          • Ok you didn’t address the interpretation of Title IX that would allow trans* women to attend women’s colleges without opening it to cis men and you’ve also made it clear that no one there would care what anyone thinks if they’re not actively giving, so I think I’m done here except for one thing:

            Transgender women are not cisgender men.

            (lather, rinse, repeat)

            Transgender women are (still) not cisgender men. The outcry is not about accepting cisgender men. There is an interpretation of the law that would allow for transgender women to be accepted and NOT for cisgender men. Because they are not women. If women’s colleges want to do the right thing and figure it out for their trans* applicants, they can and will. If they don’t, I’ll feel free to say they’re not inclusive women’s colleges after all.

          • no need to be so snarky, marika, i was on my phone and didn’t get to the links. the broadrecognition one won’t load for me even on my computer, and the harvard pdf was too big.

            but yeah, i think private colleges do get to define who their applicants can be. simple enough? clear enough? you might be shocked to learn that not even every cis woman who applies gets accepted! *gasp*

            as far as the harvard interpretation, it’s just that, an interpretation by a harvard grad student, law student?

            i don’t think the vast majority of students (who are still mostly straight) and alumnae (who are still mostly straight) are that concerned about this issue that effects a tiny minority, but the outcome would effect the entire college. even the author of the harvard article states: “Whether a growing transgender population could threaten Title IX funding for a women’s college is an unclear and separate issue beyond the scope of this Note.”

            one interpretation of law by someone who is not even practicing law yet is not a universal interpretation of the law, i can understand the college not wanting to spend time and resources in court, or risk opening up the college to cis gender men in the future, which is a potential, as that article states and I just quoted.

            again, with the snark. i know and you know trans women are not cis gender men, but legally, if you’re male, you’re male, according to the college’s discretion. and it seems they do have discretion.

            and the “right thing” is totally subjective. may they think doing the right thing for them is not admitting trans women and maybe they are supported in that by their donors and alumnae. again, your article stated as much as well.

  12. Marika I will address your Title IX comment. The Harvard article is, as you said, a legal argument. It is not a legal precedent but a legal argument and as this legal argument has not been tested in a Court of Law, it holds no legal weight. While its fine to assert that the Harvard article is holds a compelling argument, saying point blank that it won’t change the legal status is incorrect. Only until a case goes to Court will we know, definitely, how Title IX should be interpreted. Please note that I am not trying to say that the Harvard Article should simply be dismissed – but that it is up to a Judge to ultimately decide how Title IX should be interpreted, not a Harvard Scholar.

    I do not dispute the notion that transgender women are not the same as cisgender men. But there is the issue of what legally constitutes a ‘transgender woman.’ As the law varies from state to state, there is no clear definition. This lack of clarity does leave all-women colleges in a precarious position. While a person may identify as a woman, the law may still (unfortunately) classify her as a man. How an all-women college deals with this situation is hard. It is overly simplistic to say ‘just let them in!’ without looking at the deeper legal issues.

    And finally, it is sad that this post has ultimately been derailed. While the issue of transgender women in all women’s colleges is an important one, it should not negate the overall purpose of this article; a piece on the interactions of straight and queer people at Bryn Mawr.

    • I’m still curious what the “legal issues” are of allowing trans women into women’s colleges? What law are you referring to? If you mean the schools’ mission statements, then I suspect there is no hard-written definition of what a woman is other than by the administration and admission’s policies (which are hardly laws). If you’re talking about Title 9, I think it’s been pretty much proven this issue isn’t even applicable to intent of that law. What it really comes down to is schools not wanting to potentially rock the boat for getting endowments and the internal transphobia of the administration, some students and instructors and alumni. And again, it needs to be said that, in a number of states (eg. Ohio, Idaho and Tennessee, much less certain countries), legal change of gender isn’t possible, which means trans women from those locales are completely cut out of the school regardless of what they do.

  13. I’m a little late to this party, but I still have to air my lack of clear thoughts.

    “If this means that there are some spaces that are not as open to members of privileged groups, that’s okay with me, because those people have the rest of the world to find a home for themselves.”

    I guess I agree, but this reminds me about this one time at A-camp… Someone posed the question of wether a self identified “straight girl” had a place at camp. I felt uncomfortable that someone would be willing to turn anyone away from attending since I see AS (and a-camp) as a place I would hope to be super inclusive. The reasoning was that a heterosexual cis woman would be taking a spot away from someone more deserving… Thoughts? Feelings? I’m curious to hear all the opinions :)

    • When it comes to spaces, I like for them to be very honest on what they are so if I don’t agree with the politics I simply don’t join. As for the sake of this article it seems that a lot of the queer (cis) women friendly colleges, a straight girl might feel “left out” in some spaces but it depends on the space, even within the college/university. I feel like somethings for me personally are not about me, some spaces should exists to cater to other people in group I might not be the primary target. An example would be spaces that are for trans*people and given I am cis, I cannot just come to their space and demand they make room for me. I feel like even as an ally I cannot demand people make room for me for the groups I do not occupy, it’s not about me. I have to make the work.

      So a straight woman might want to come to A-camp, but what is the mission of A-camp? Is it a space for women or queer identified people? She could *still* go but she can’t just show up and people kiss her ass because she is a super-great ally or just needs a space outside her own “heterosexual bubble.”

      Again somethings, spaces and things one loves in the abstract are not about oneself and their ego.

      • You’re neglecting the fact that there are trans women who are heterosexual and don’t ID as queer. The assumption that all trans women are automatically queer is dismissive. Do those straight women belong at a space like A-Camp… I leave it up to you to decide. But FYI, those women are the ones who get murdered in larger numbers than any other group and receive as much if not more hostility from the patriarchy.

        • You know, that’s actually a good point that hadn’t even occurred to me. In my mind I’ve always classified trans women as queer regardless of their orientation because their experiences fall outside the typical, privileged experience of a cis woman who is exclusively attracted to men. But ultimately, every individual has a right to define themselves how they choose, and I need to respect that. Thanks for pointing that out!

        • I don’t think ACamp is about how much you suffer from the patriarchy. I mean, that’d be a pretty damn depressing theme for a camp. So, I think ACamp is for lady-loving ladies, cis or trans.
          I also wanted to add, any and all statistics involving violence against the LGBTQ community is overwhelmingly violence against LGBTQ people OF COLOR. I think that distinction is pretty damn important.

        • I apologize if my language suggested that all trans* women are queer, I do not think that at all! I just wanted to stress about spaces and when they are defined if I am not in that group, I don’t see the point of of me demanding room for me especially when I am more privileged.

    • Re: Straight women at A-Camp. This is an interesting point, and there’s no easy answer. One the one hand, I’m a firm believer in diversity and inclusivity. This is something I practice every day of my life. I attend classes with straight, cis people of different cultural and religious backgrounds. They are all very open-minded, warm, and inclusive, and I reflect the same values towards them. I feel at home with my academic colleagues.

      However, there is a very different sense of belonging that comes from being surrounded by other queer people. We have very unique shared experiences that straight and/or cis people may understand and support, but it’s not the same as having lived those experiences first hand. It’s not the same.

      I listen to and support the experiences of my straight friends for 361 days out of the year. For that percentage of the year, their voices and experiences are the ones that dominate. Is it really so wrong for queer women to have four days out of the year that are just about them and their experiences for a change?

      • I should add, however: If there were straight girls at A-camp (or any other queer-dominated space, like Bryn Mawr), I would make them feel welcome and treat them with the same warmth and respect as everyone else. I believe that if I want to be treated with respect and equality, I need to be willing to reflect those same qualities towards those anyone. As members of the LGBT community, we need to remember that acceptance and tolerance are a two-way street.

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