Transgender Student Harassed on Campus
By Andraya Williams
On March 19th, 2014 I was publicly humiliated and harassed by a female security officer on [Central Piedmont Community College] CPCC’s campus. In attempting to file a complaint about the incident, I was turned away and intimidated.
On March 19th at about 5:30 p.m. I was on my way to the library from the Overcash building when I stopped to use a restroom in Overcash. As I was leaving the female restroom when an officer stopped me and asked if she could see my identification. I said “yes, can you tell me if I did something wrong?” The office laughed and answered by asking if I was male or female and I answered “female.” I immediately called my attorney’s cell and told her what was going on while I searched for my identification. My attorney told me to show my identification right away and I did. I then asked the officer “am I free to leave?” because I did not understand why she was keeping me. Over and over she refused to tell me what was happening. A few moments later, the office called for backup – even though I was not giving her a hard time about anything. Minutes later, approximately six security guards showed up including the head of security and surrounded me. ln the next few minutes three different officers checked my identification. I’m not sure why so many officers checked my ID, but I felt like they were checking it to see if I was male or female.
During this occurrence many students were walking by and they were staring at me. The officers, who are suppose to be protecting the student body, would not let me go and would not tell me what I had done wrong. I was humiliated and emotionally distraught by this.
The officers then informed me I had to leave campus. I told them that I was on my way to my 6:00 p.m. sociology class and asked if this meant I could not go to class. They told me I had to leave and didn’t have permission to come back further notice. I asked again why I was being escorted off the campus with no response. I answered all questions honestly, and I was calm and followed the directions of the security officer during the time that I was being detained. Additionally, I provided proper identification after being asked and still I was kicked off of the school campus, without cause, and told not to return until further notice.
After this incident I met with the Dean of Student Life and he told me I could be reinstated as a student but refused to show me my file or the incident report. Also, the Dean toid me the reason I was suspended was because I didn’t show identification even though I showed the officers ID. The Dean told me I was suspended for not showing ID but then told me that if I wanted to go to CPCC I had to use the gender neutral bathroom on campus and that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be protected. He also told me I needed to bring in medical proof that I am a female. I thought this was weird because he toId me I was suspended for not showing ID. Which thing was I actually suspended for? I asked the Dean how to file a complaint and he wouldn’t tell me.
Alter talking to the Dean I called the Office of Equal Opportunity and the Director told me I have “no rights legally,” because I am transgender and that if I file a complaint it could “cost someone a job.” I told him I still wanted to file a complaint anyway and I felt intimidated, like he was trying to stop me from filing a complaint. He wouldn’t take the complaint over the phone and told me I have to go to campus to file.
I have been a student at Central Piedmont Community College on and off since 2009. I am a good student, and I really enjoy my classes. I am a transgender woman, who has transitioned to female and I am a woman. I have gone to classes this term and am treated like the woman I am in class. My professors use my legal name, which is a female name. I have also used the Women’s restroom multiple times every day without being told I couldn’t. I don’t understand why this happened but it needs to be made right. I want the school to clarify their policy on restrooms so that other students don’t experience what I experienced. I want the school to make sure they have policies that help support transgender students, like me. I want the officers involved to be disciplined, and I want the administration and school employees to be educated about transgender students. I want my suspension permanently removed from my record and I want a formal written apology from the school.
This article was originally distributed by the LGBTQ Law Center.