Despite its reputation as a relatively progressive university, many rules enforced by the Fordham administration are rooted in dated Roman Catholic tradition. This conflict in ideology is embodied by the on-campus housing policy, a system still tainted by archaic perceptions of gender.
Fordham’s current process for selecting and maintaining roommates is exclusionary to transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) students. This process is based on the Catholic view that a person cannot change their gender and that anyone who identifies as TGNC cannot validly marry. But the fact of the matter is that these tenets are outdated and exclusionary. Students who do not identify their gender with their sex assigned at birth and feel uncomfortable living with other members of that sex are unequivocally left out. In fact, Fordham is outright insulting them by not allowing them to live comfortably on the grounds of their gender identities.
It is hypocritical for Fordham to claim to support its LGBTQ students while the current housing situation remains exclusionary. While we commend the efforts of the administration to uphold the values of diversity and inclusion—and we believe these efforts are genuine—they are for naught if TGNC students do not feel comfortable or even safe in their on-campus living environments. As the school year goes on, Fordham students may start to refer to their residence hall as “home”; there’s no reason why any portion of the population should be denied this privilege.
In order to practice the LGBTQ support Fordham frequently preaches, it must put a TGNC-inclusive housing system into place. Fordham administration must update its housing policy to allow those who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming to room with whom they feel most comfortable. Fordham should allow male-to-female and female-to-male transgender students the right to live with students who also identify with their respective genders. In addition, gender non-conforming students—including those who identify as agender, genderfluid and more—should have the ability to select their roommate and suitemate gender preference.
Ultimately, reaffirming support for the LGBTQ community in the form of meaningful, tangible actions is more important than Fordham’s unwavering dedication to archaic Catholic law. Changing the housing policy to address the specific needs of TGNC students may contradict Catholic doctrine, but it is necessary to ensure that every member of the Fordham community feels accepted, welcome and at home.