Some feel mixed-gender advisery option is not enough

Transgender students find mixed gender adviseries awkward



Sophomore Mila Armstrong, who identifies as male, would like to see mixed-gender adviseries become the only option for all students

The newly created mixed gender advisery has been well-received by many students and teachers alike. However, some transgender students don’t feel the optional mixed gender adviseries are doing enough. 

For trans students, being in a single-gender advisery can lead to misgendering, awkward questions and wrong assumptions.

Mila Armstrong, a transmasculine sophomore who goes by he/him pronouns is in a girls advisery. His experience as a trans person has shaped his view that adviseries create awkward situations where he feels his identity is invalidated. 

“The conversation of ‘Why are you in a coed advisery?’ is an awkward conversation to have if you’re a trans person,” he said.

For Armstrong, being in an all-girls advisery presents many challenges of its own. He believes everyone should be in a mixed gender advisery – the coed option is enough. 

Having the option will lead to more questioning, uncomfortable conversations and judgment among students, he said.

There will always be people who feel more comfortable in one situation and people who feel more comfortable in another situation

— Eric Stewart

“I feel like a lot of [advisermates] misgender me constantly,” he said. “They automatically see me as a girl. I feel like the idea behind [gendered adviseries] was somewhat valid, but it just didn’t work out.  But now that more people are not cis at New Trier, it’s more pointless; it feels more like discriminating between trans and cis people.”

Sage Lepley, a sophmore who goes by all pronouns, said gendered adviseries only serve cisgender people. 

“It makes non-cis people feel really out of place,” Lepley said. “I would love it if people could choose [which advisery they’re in].” 

Armstrong and Lepey are not alone in their views on mixed gender adviseries. A petition on calls on the school to abolish the gendered advisery system. 

One signer, Kiera Damon, wrote, “NT promotes equity and inclusion but still categorizes students by male or female? This old system needs to be left in the past. Before they remodel the buildings they should consider [remodeling] their advisory system first!”

Throughout the years, the question of gender has come up many times, though students have been split on what the next move is. Assistant principal Scott Williams, described the decision of creating mixed gender adviseries as one long in the making. 

“[Over] the course of the past twenty years or so… this topic has come up multiple times,” Williams said. “Every time we surveyed or asked questions about it, it really landed in this 50/50 spot.”

It’s a unique New Trier experience for students to start their day in a community of people who share their identity, and many find comfort in that community. 

Cecile Malo, a cisgender sophomore, said she feels comfortable with being in a single gender advisery. 

“I don’t really care that it’s an all girls advisery,” Malo said. “I like my advisery because I’ve been with them [since] freshman year.” 

Hadley Quinn is also a cisgender sophmore student in an all-girls advisery. To her, it’s a positive experience to be able to more easily connect with her peers. 

“As someone who somewhat identifies as a girl, it’s nice to be able to be in an advisery where I can talk about ‘girl things,’ Quinn said. “It’s just a really safe space.”

Adviseries provide an opportunity for advisers to guide their students in a way that most benefits them. 

Eric Stewart, an adviser of an all-boys advisery agrees that it’s an opportunity for him to make sure young men don’t make harmful mistakes.

“There are certain behaviors that lots of different types of boys are often guilty of and that’s something,] especially as a sophomore adviser, I’ve always [been] cognisant of making sure that people avoid particular types of behavior that are immature, inappropriate,” Stewart said.

Stewart is happy that students can choose between a single or mixed gender advisery now.

“There will always be people who feel more comfortable in one situation and people who feel more comfortable in another situation,” he said.