Most people prefer to be called “he” or “she”, but Lo Luthro, a junior psychology major, prefers the gender-neutral terms “ze” and “hirself.” Born female, Luthro is genderqueer and identifies as a member of the transgender community.
The CSU Trans* Umbrella group that Luthro is a part of, includes all those who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth.
“(Transgender) includes everyone from transsexuals to crossdressers to drag queens, as well as persons who are bigendered and genderqueer,” Justin Lemiller, who has a doctorate in social psychology and specializes in sexuality, discrimination and relationships, wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Each of these identities is very distinct, but what they share in common is that the persons involved all fall outside the binary view of gender.”
This is true in Luthro’s case — ze does not consider hirself male or female.
“I do not identify with the binary woman or the binary man. I take things from each section. Some days I want to be more feminine and some days I want to be more masculine,” Luthro said.
“A lot of people think there’s just trans man and trans woman, but there are a lot of other identities,” Luthro said. “It can mean something different to every person.”
Zach Zandt, a CSU alumnus, is also under the transgender umbrella. Zandt was born female, but since he was 20, identifies as a male.
Zandt began the medical transition at 21 and has since had few problems with how he is viewed.
“I’m generally read as a male,” Zandt said. “It can occasionally make daily life awkward, but people let it slide. It just doesn’t cross their minds.”
Both Zandt and Luthro found community at CSU. For Zandt, it meant coming out. For Luthro, it meant finding community groups that understood hir identity.
Both have also had their share of challenges.
“I’m from a really small town,” Zandt said. “My family was definitely not okay with it. We didn’t speak for nearly a year.”
Zandt believes that a lot of his parents’ fear was related to how he would be treated. They were worried that the community would not be kind.
“People who violate social expectations for their gender are excluded and made fun of for being different,” Lehmiller wrote. “This can lead to challenges fitting in, difficulties finding a job, as well as personal safety concerns.”
Out of his parents’ home, Zandt was able to come out and begin his transition. His relationship has since improved with his parents.
“My parents are conservative evangelical Christians, but they came around eventually,” Zandt said.
Zandt found safety in the CSU community to make his transition. He even began hormone treatments at Heartshorn.
“CSU was a safe place to make the transition,” Zandt said. “(It) was a really positive experience.”
Luthro also experienced some issues with hir identity. Most of hir family does not know about hir identity — although hir mom has been supportive.
“She’s been very affirming and she’s asked questions,” Luthro said.
Luthro also faces judgement from the general public depending on how ze dresses. For gender neutral people, it is more difficult to simply use the public restroom or try on clothing.
“We live in a world where everyone is presumed to be either male or female and to have a gender identity that matches their biological sex. This is why almost everything in this world including bathrooms and sports teams is divided into men’s and women’s,” Lehmiller wrote.
Luthro has also been turned away from using men’s bathrooms and male dressing rooms.
“The issues I face depend on how I’m dressed that day. I’ll face a lot more oppression dressed as a male,” Luthro said.
Luthro dresses differently from day to day, but it doesn’t change who ze is.
“I’m gender queer every day,” Luthro said. “I feel the same all days. There are a lot of people who are very affirming and ask what pronouns I prefer. Obviously, the whole world isn’t the supportive community.”
Luthro and Zandt identify differently, but both are still normal adults.
“It’s a tiny part of who I am, there’s a lot more to me,” Zandt said. “It doesn’t affect my daily life.”
Luthro encourages people to ask her questions about her identity. She also encourages students to stand up for equality.
“When you hear someone say something transphobic, stand up to it,” Luthro said. “If you see someone getting bullied in the bathrooms, say something.”
“Ask questions. Be mindful and be respectful,” Luthro said.
Collegian Senior Reporter Mariah Wenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more content follow her on Twitter @mariahcwenzel.