The University of Miami's Health System has a department dedicated to gender confirmation services for transgender individuals. "Our goal is to help... make your transition as comfortable and easy as possible," reads the department's website.
Though, if patients who sought help at the center then enrolled as students at the University of Miami, would they be guaranteed that same ease and comfort? University of Miami's policies ranged from not particularly clear to downright discriminatory.
Ryan Aquilina, a University of Miami alumnus, has helped to put pressure on the school to update its policies. In a post on Medium last year, he pointed out that "trans students are forced by UM to live in single rooms on certain floors of certain buildings — something no other student on campus is subjected to."
A Change.org petition created by Aquilina called on the university to "clarify the University of Miami’s policies toward transgender students, faculty, and staff."
Today, President Julio Frenk did just that.
Courtesy of University of Miami University Communications
"In keeping with our policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, the University allows and welcomes individuals to use restrooms and live in housing that corresponds to their gender identity," read a statement.
"The University recognizes that gender identity is a key component of what it means to be a truly inclusive institution, and we will continue to promote a campus climate where everyone feels welcome, respected, and safe," he concluded.
Though not exactly known as a socially conservative campus by any means, the University of Miami has been playing catch-up in recent years when it comes to policies regarding LGBT students.
In December, Frenk announced a number of upgrades, including "a dedicated staff member and space will be provided to help students of all gender identities/expressions and sexual orientations by this spring."
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Frenk has now also announced that an LGBTQ resource center will be in place for the start of the fall semester. A director will be hired to lead the center. UM was one of just five top 50 universities that lacked a similar resource center.
Aqualina was thrilled with today's announcement.