The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - 64

J. Michael Denton, Leia K. Cain

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Critical and poststructural feminist, queer,
and transgender theories inform our theoretical framework (Butler, 1990; Namaste, 1996).
These theorists understand gender as an interplay of the personal, systemic, and institutional ideologies and norms. Of these norms,
the enforcement of the gender binary strongly
impacts trans students (Berila, 2011). Although
our framework includes a complex array of
ideas about gender (e.g., performativity, Butler
1990), the gender concepts we focus on in this
study are genderism and gender policing.

Genderism
Genderism is a term some scholars use to describe the maintenance and reinforcement of
the gender binary (Browne, 2004). Residence
halls and housing policies are sites for genderism, even with good intentions. For example,
some housing departments create all-gender
floors, but this change does not address the
structure of housing students in spaces centered on the gender binary (Nicolazzo, 2017).
Institutions often think about changing or
adding a few physical spaces to promote trans
inclusion in residence halls, bathrooms, classrooms, and similar spaces, but usually fail to
address the institutional structures and policies that uphold the gender binary (Bilodeau,
2005; Marine, 2011). Trans inclusion, then,
becomes about small changes that bring trans
students into the binary rather than challenging the binary itself. As such, students who
do not fit normative gender ideals (e.g., trans
students, students who dress differently from
their perceived gender, students who present
androgynously or ambiguously, effeminate
male-presenting students or masculine fe-

64

male-presenting students) find themselves excluded, marginalized, and challenged even in
supposedly trans-affirmative areas.

Gender Policing
Gender policing and genderism are closely
related. While all people face gender policing,
James et al. (2016) reported that trans people
were at particularly high risk for violence and
discrimination. Gender policing is the myriad
forms of harm done to people whose gender
does not fit binary gender norms (Browne,
2004). Genderbashing refers to the violent
regulation of gender in public spaces through
financial, physical, and institutional forms of
violence (Namaste, 1996). Roommates, their
guests, and housing staff police residents'
rooms informally and formally. The hallways
and other areas of a residence hall are spaces
where further policing occurs.
Another type of gender policing specific to
trans individuals is transnormativity. Transnormativity involves ideals of how trans people
should identify and look and most often finds
expression when trans people must present
themselves to receive certain medical or legal
resources, especially while transitioning
(Vipond, 2015). Transnormativity "should be
understood ... as both an empowering and constraining ideology" where some trans people
are legitimated and others are marginalized
(Johnson, 2016, p. 466). Transnormative ideas
can cause some trans collegians to wonder if
they are sufficiently trans (Catalano, 2015b).

STUDY DESIGN
We (Leia and Michael) are a cisgender, queeridentified White woman and man. Michael
is a former residence life educator with over
fifteen years' experience. We approached this

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - Intro
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