Transgender UWM student claims discrimination

Posted at 7:55 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 13:16:11-04

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student says she's been discriminated against by her school.

The transgender student said it happened at the school's fitness center, when she tried to use the women's locker room.

Justine Kramer identifies as a woman, but was born a man.

Kramer still went by Justin when she filed a complaint against the Klotsche Center. Since then, Kramer has legally changed her name, and soon her drivers license will reflect her female gender identity.

"A lot of people view me as a threat to their safety when I'm not," explained Kramer.

That's how Kramer said she felt she was viewed in the sauna at the Klotsche Center in January.

"She asked me 'Are you supposed to be in here?' I said yes. She said 'Are you sure?' I said yes, because I was well aware this was a women's locker room," explained Kramer.

"At this point I don't look very female," said Kramer. She said she often hears comments about not looking female.

But it's something she's working to change, as she works with a physician to get started on hormone therapy. In the meantime, she's working to change the policies at her school.

"Here they were kicking me out when our interpretation of the policy was this was okay, when according to the Klotsche Center, it wasn't okay," she said.

Dean of students Timothy Gordon tells TODAY'S TMJ4 the facility's locker rooms are older and not built to allow maximum privacy. He said he can't talk about specific students, but tells us the university is evaluating a new policy.

"The focus of that policy is to attempt to provide access to facilities to people based on their gender identity, but also balance the rights of all students who use those facilities," explained Gordon.

The proposed policy states people using facilities of a gender other than the one they were born would have to cover genitalia in the presence of others. It also allows the family locker room as a gender-neutral facility. It specifies consequences as serious as police action for any harrassment in locker rooms.

Gordon said the university is taking suggestions from individuals on campus as this draft develops. The Student Association has proposed changes to the policy, including the removal of several sections they feel discriminate against other students. A faculty member has also filed a letter objecting to several portions of the drafted policy.

Cary Gabriel Costello writes "I'm frankly shocked that [policies] are being proposed as "inclusive" procedures, and have been vetted by legal," according to documents provided by Kramer.