There is an unexpected increase within a small population of students at EPCC that is shining a light on members of the college who do not identify as male or female.
Recent EPCC enrollment statistics show that there has been a 0.42% increase of gender neutral students at the college between the fall of 2017 and 2018.
COURTESY EPCC Analytics
The graph above shows the recent increase in
non-comforming students at EPCC.
While this may seem like an insignificant number, the executive director of the Borderland Rainbow Center Brenda Risch believes it is a sign that people are opening up to their sexuality and gender identity.
“I think what’s changing is that…right now in the 21st century, people are able to be more open about who they are and how they feel.
People can be more open about their sexuality and I think there is a bigger vocabulary to describe people’s experiences,” said Risch.
So, who are these individuals and what does it mean to not confirm specifically to one gender?
The most common term used for people that do not identify entirely as one gender is non-binary.
Non-binary simply means that a person does not fit into the category of male or female.
In most cases they share strong traits and characteristics from both genders.
There are several terms used to describe non-binary people including gender-neutral, gender-queer, and agender to name a few.
EPCC has collected data on the genders of its student’s since 2001. For years reports only showed men and women enrolled at the school.
While there was one gender-neutral student enrolled in 2008 and 2009 the number went back down to zero until recently.
As of fall of 2018 there are 199 students that do not identify as a man or a woman.
EPCC has a track record of actively incorporating diversity and inclusivity in the college’s administration, staff and students.
This fall EPCC was honored to receive the HEED award which commemorated the college for its commitment to promoting diversity and cultural awareness.
Gender identity is a topic of conversation that has sparked many heated political debates and controversies between conservatives and liberals.
The increase in open non-binary students at EPCC speaks to the accessibility of education and awareness of LGBT related issues.
The influx of coming out stories on YouTube and social medial has paved the way for those who identify as non-binary to also be open and proud.
“There’s always people who don’t want to deal with change.
That’s part of human nature right? Change is scary. Change is difficult, it takes effort but…you know that’s life too.
If you resist change what are you going to do? Ride a horse?
Do you want to go back to go back to not using penicillin or antibiotics and die from an infection?
Change includes progress as well as things that are frightening or unexplained,” Risch said.
The college has support systems such as the Queer Straight Alliance advised by EPCC speech instructor, Crystal Robert.
The group hosts several events and meetings to support LGBTQ students and to educate the public about the issues they face.