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Question for straight/cis people about gender segregation in student housing

Discussion in 'General Support and Advice' started by Crisalide, Jan 17, 2022.

  1. Crisalide

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    Hello c: (long time no see, EC, huh? xD)
    I am an afab closeted transguy (a bit on the non-binary side, though) who's attracted mostly to women, I guess (physically). I am also a student who lives and works in a city that's not my parents' town where I grew up. I cannot afford a flat all on my own, so I'm looking for a shared room in a shared flat (rented in a stable way, with a real rent contract, not jumping unofficially from one house to the next every single month...). In this city, the rent market is highly saturated. A huge crowd of students and young workers are desperately looking for a roof over their head that won't empty their wallet, while the houses avaiable are few (also, many of them are left empty by their owners on purpose, to speculate on housing prices). So... it's been months that I've been navigating rent advertisement sites and facebook groups; I've read so many announcements (and answered to) that I've lost the count...
    Being a young adult is complicated in the rent market of this city, but to the common difficulty I add me being queer. A vast majority of ads is addressed "to females only" or "to males only" (non-binary people don't even cross someone's mind). Many potential roommates explicitly state that someone of the opposite sex would make them uncomfortable. Or that the owner doesn't want their flat occupied by girls and guys at the same time. And we're talking about grown up adults here, not teenagers on a school trip.
    I wonder: why?
    By default, I don't get gender segregation. I am transgender and (a weird sort of) bisexual. To me, being in a locker room with guys or girls feel exactly the same. I have no idea why a cisgender person feels more intimacy with someone of their same gender.
    So: I ask it to cisgender and/or non-queer people. Because, first: I want to understand this phenomenon that seems alien to me. Second: because I want to reassure any potential roommate that I'll be the most discrete non-harassing roommate, with a high sense of privacy both passive (not displaying my body too much) and active (not looking at others' bodies) - because that's just decency, which goes beyond gender and sexual attraction. Because I'm tired of not having a real home in the city where I intend to live for the rest of my life, where I study *and* have a job. Sigh...
     
  2. bsg75apollo

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    Can you clarify what you want to know. I can only speak to the cisgender part.
     
  3. Crisalide

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    Why do often cisgender people ask for roommates only of their same gender? Why do they feel uncomfortable otherwise? And how do I reassure a potential roommate - guy or girl - that I'll cause the least issues possible, despite not being their same gender?
     
  4. bsg75apollo

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    Well, I can say personally that I wouldn't have a problem with a female roommate in an apartment situation. I can't say that I would want to share a bedroom. Probably because I'm an only child and treasure my privacy and space. In terms of say sharing a communal bathroom I'd probably be weirded out sharing, but that would be because of my own body issues and insecurities. Other than that the only thing that I can think of is that some people want someone who has perceived commonalities based purely on gender. I feel awkward and insecure around other guys and I would have commonalities only in the geek arena. I don't know if there is anything big that you do to reassure someone who already has their mind made up. Maybe you should put out an ad that states your commonalities and let the unprejudiced come to you.
     
  5. JT1999

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    Maybe its more of a straight-person thing than a cisgender thing? I would actually find it weird living with a straight male if we were only friends. Living with another female wouldn't feel as weird, even if she wasn't straight.
     
  6. BiGemini87

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    The thing is, it may not feel differently for you, but it does for many others. There are a whole slew of reasons why people aren't comfortable having the opposite sex in a locker room with them; it can be a sense of security and safety, they could be dealing with past traumas, they might have a hard time being around anyone in a close, intimate setting that isn't their partner, close friends, etc. While I'm sure you really don't pose a threat, there are individuals out there who use being trans (or even fake it), to get access to spaces that are single-sex. There might not be a lot of people like that, but they do exist--so I don't think it's unreasonable for people to want single-sex spaces. That doesn't mean every space has to be single-space--I'm all for there being spaces that people can share. But sex segregation exists for the sole purpose of respecting boundaries and providing safe spaces for all. Even NB folk are still one sex or the other, regardless of their gender presentation.

    Unfortunately, I don't know how you might go about convincing someone who is naturally wary of occupying the same space as the opposite sex. But on the plus side, I think when we're looking at rooming situations, there are probably more men than women that would be comfortable with the arrangement. Women have been conditioned (not without justification) to be wary and careful; we're looking at hundreds to thousands of years of self-preservation instinct on the matter, which doesn't just go away due to us being more civilized. Men, on the other hand, often don't operate on the same wave-length, because they haven't been brought up in the same way. I think all you can do is try to arrange a meeting with some of these individuals seeking roommates, and if you hit it off and they're comfortable with the idea of living together (going over boundaries, of course, for both their benefit and your own) you probably will find folks are a little more open than the present otherwise.

    For what it's worth, I hope you find a place and roommate who is both accepting and courteous towards you. I know it must be frustrating, just trying to live your life and move forward in whatever ways you need to. At the end of the day, we all just want to be safe and happy, right? I think, if people are acting a little more warily these days, it's the predators to blame. They've made it difficult for everyone, most hurting the people they claim to be/to protect.
     
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