Transgendered student is victim of harassment

On the evening of Oct. 23, transgendered student Amaya Taina, 20, was harassed on Portland State campus.

On the evening of Oct. 23, transgendered student Amaya Taina, 20, was harassed on Portland State campus.

Near the corner of Southwest Broadway and College Street, Taina and a friend were goofing around, taking pictures while she pretended to hitchhike passing cars.

Meanwhile, three boys in their early 20s rode by on their skateboards, laughing and mocking Taina while one approached her and shouted, “Why are you dressed like a woman?”

Taina flipped them off and walked away while the boys proceeded to yell expletives in her direction.

She called campus security and reported the incident, describing it as a biased crime. Campus Public Safety responded that she had instigated the hostility and could not file a report or pursue further action.

“If the boys had assaulted, or used offensive, gender-biased language, a report would have been made. I’m just worried about future discrimination from other students,” Taina said.

The Queer Resource Center documented the incident and tipped off Residence Life since it happened near the Broadway residence hall. The Dean of Students Office documented the incident in their database as well.

As a senator and intern for ASPSU, Taina urges students interested in forming a transgendered student group to contact her at the ASPSU office.

“We want to feel safe and supported at school,” she said.

Portland State’s Sexual and Gender Equality (SAGE) task force is the most active support system for the transgendered community on campus, according to its Web site.

SAGE is working behind the scenes for policies and services that support sexual and gender diversity on campus. Since 2007, they have implemented a number of changes in favor of LGBT students.

SAGE has provided LGBT sensitivity trainings for resident assistants and non-discriminatory language for use in Residence Life and housing materials. The Residence Life student handbook now states that queer residents are safe and welcomed in Portland State residence halls.

Most recently, they have advocated and produced a campus map for gender-neutral bathrooms across campus, including in the Peter Stott Center and the new Recreation Center.

SAGE also boasts that Portland State is the second university in the nation to offer transgender health care to students. The Center for Student Health and Counseling now has revised forms and procedures to include transgendered patients, according to its Web site.

Campus Public Safety officers are now trained on transgender issues and attend regular trainings on a variety of queer-related topics.

Adrienne Graf, a graduate student social worker at the Women’s Resource Center, is trying to get the word out about their interpersonal violence program.

“We see this violence as a continuum of violence; looking at it as a platform, not as isolated incidents,” she said.

Graf believes that education and prevention are the most important elements in the effort to minimize violence and harassment and that the more a society uses LGBT-competent language, the more it will see services responding to gender biased incidents.