BU Today

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How BU Dates

Campus-wide survey: opinions about love, sex, social media

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When it comes to dating, this generation of college students is writing its own rules, and often deleting them as quickly as they are written. Bulldozed by social media, buffeted by changing attitudes, today’s dating landscape can be a baffling place, and BU’s Charles River Campus is in some ways more confusing than most. As is revealed in a BU Today survey answered by more than 4,000 students, it’s not always clear that a date is a date, it’s hard to know when a relationship is a relationship, and the best clue to the true nature of an invitation is often the time of day (or night) that it’s issued.

It’s confusing, and it’s interesting. A recent story in the New York Times titled “The End of Courtship?” describes just how mixed up it is; it pulled in more than 400 comments from readers. Our own nonscientific survey, which asked about such things as what constitutes a date and the usefulness of social media, discloses much about the dating preferences of students on the Charles River Campus. Looks are less important than personality, a group date is not a real date, and online dating sites are creepy. College, it turns out, also happens to be a wakeup call: only about half (41.4 percent of female, 50.6 percent of male, and 57.1 percent of transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students) say they had “realistic expectations” about dating when they came to BU; 48.4 percent of female respondents say their love life has been disappointing.

One anonymous female student who commented on the survey believes that dating is a thing of the past, at least among college students. “When you’re trying to grow and figure your life out, it’s important to experience bonds beyond friendship and beyond hookup partners,” she writes. “It’s a shame that I’m leaving BU in May without having had a single relationship, not even a close one. I would have liked to learn more about myself that you could only do when you are in a relationship with somebody. It seems that college just isn’t the place to do that anymore.”

One commonly heard explanation for the boyfriend deficit is BU’s lopsided female-to-male ratio: 9,935 to 6,689 last year. Yet similar ratios prevail at most colleges across the country.

In our survey, only 25.2 percent of female and 33.3 percent of transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students say they can find someone to date on campus.

Some responding think the gender imbalance also influences the behavior of those who do find dates. One anonymous female complains that because male students are “well aware of their advantage,” they would “rather opt for casual sexual encounters….The joke that BU girls can’t find a decent boyfriend among the student body does not stretch the truth. After two and a half years at BU, I still have not been asked out on a date.”

BU women say their pickings are further reduced because some of the University’s eligible men are gay; in our survey, 11.3 percent of men identify as gay and 3.4 percent as bisexual.

Among students identifying themselves as male, 70.1 percent report that they do find enough romantic interests on campus. Still, even some men have found something to complain about. One male respondent claims that BU’s gender imbalance drives women to “preemptively search other schools for boyfriends, leaving very datable guys at BU single.”

Virtual life vs. virtual love

Curiously, the survey shows that the generation that spends much of its life online has little interest in dating online. Respondents across gender identities say they have the best luck meeting love interests the old-fashioned way: through friends, around campus, in classes, and at parties. WTBU reported last semester that speed-dating events at Hillel House were growing in popularity.

George Stavros, executive director of the University’s Albert & Jessie Danielsen Institute, which counsels couples in the BU community, says it’s fine to make a first impression in the virtual world, but it’s important to start communicating in person early on.

“You might get anxious, thinking that when they really get to know you they won’t like you,” Stavros says. “So what I say is fairly early on, within the first month of dating someone, go on a two-hour walk or a car ride, somewhere where you can only be with each other.”

Our survey shows that only 8.5 percent of students are fans of online dating, 44.4 percent think it’s creepy, 34.9 percent admit they might try it, and 12.1 percent (note to readers: this adds up to more than 100 percent because some respondents answered questions more than once) admit to trying it, but don’t plan on telling anyone. Among transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students, 40 percent say online is one of the best places to meet romantic partners.

The internet has changed much about dating, and BU students think some changes are better than others. Among female respondents, 57.2 percent say social media has taken the romance out of romance, even as it has offered some useful tools. For one thing, it allows them to do a bit of cyberstalking before a date. Among females, 40.3 percent admit they give their heart’s desire a “quick glance,” and 37.8 percent do “more than they care to admit.” Among males, 40 percent do a quick Facebook profile search, and 30.9 percent ’fess up to doing a more extensive investigation.

How to ask someone out

Yes, it takes courage to ask someone out, but our survey suggests that it’s worth the stress. By a wide margin, (89.8 percent of female, 89.6 percent of male, and 81 percent of transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students) the preferred method of asking or being asked out is in person.

Next up, the question of what exactly a person is being asked to do. Go on a date? Hang out? Can a date really involve a group of several people? Apparently not: most students (over 65 percent) believe it is a date “as long as it’s the two of us (i.e., not hanging out in a group of friends).”

It the rendezvous turns out to be a date, students must figure out who should pay. The short answer offered by students identifying as male or female say the payer should be the guy. But among transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students, there is a more equitable conviction that the bill should be split down the middle. Guys think they should always pay, and females are in agreement in general, but the two groups are also open to the idea of splitting the bill.

Relationship? What relationship?

How do you know if you’re actually in a relationship? That’s not as easy as it once was. Among female students, 78.2 percent say that a relationship begins when an explicit invitation is issued, and 73.7 percent of transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students are in agreement. Male students are a little less literal, with only 63 percent agreeing; 23.7 percent of them consider the relationship to start after three or four dates.

Hookups vs. companionship

We’ve all heard about the hookup culture, but how prevalent is it at BU? Among our survey respondents, 92.4 percent of female, 88.4 percent of male, and 50 percent of transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students believe there is a greater emphasis on hooking up than on dating. At the same time, comments suggest that hookups have an upside: they often blossom into lasting relationships. “Almost every single relationship I’ve seen among friends has formed from casual hookups that turn into real feelings,” says one female student.

While he acknowledges the popularity of hooking up among college students, a sophomore who is a brother in BU’s new chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a nationwide fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men, says the fleeting moment is not really what most people are looking for. “People enter into a relationship looking for something serious, but end up not following through, and that’s how hookups happen,” he says. “Maybe this is because of the combination of not wanting to label something, being too stressful, or not having the courage to communicate.”

How does someone know when hooking up is the reason for an invitation to get together? To some extent, it depends on the hour of the invitation. Male and female students agree that any suggestion to get together that arrives after midnight can be construed as a “booty call.” Transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students put the demarcation at 10 p.m.

Despite the perception that hooking up gets the greatest emphasis on campus, a majority of students surveyed—80.8 percent of female, 75.2 percent of male, and 60 percent of transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students—say their first hope is to find a companion rather than a hookup, and not a potential spouse. Priorities vary somewhat: male students say they are looking first for looks and humor, while female students want humor and similar interests, and transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students want looks and same interests.

The way the millennial generation dates differs greatly from what their parents experienced, says Barbara Gottfried (CAS’74), codirector of undergraduate studies in BU’s Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, but in some ways, it remains the same. While the traditional date—a guy asks a girl out and pays for dinner—is no longer the norm, says Gottfried, “I know from talking with my students that they are looking for somebody to have fun with and some sort of intimacy with.”

Finally, the sex part

Our survey asked students when it was OK to have sex—anytime or only in a relationship. Among the transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender group, 90 percent say anytime, among males, 77 percent respond anytime, and among females, 53.6 percent say the answer is anytime.

Despite the gender gap, the unrealistic expectations, and the lack of any real rules, many students take a pragmatic approach to dating. One student summed up his experiences this way:

“As a gay man, college was the first time I had an opportunity to date, as by this age more people are open about their sexuality,” he says. “I met and dated plenty of guys, but nothing serious ever came out of it. College is, in my eyes, a time to explore and learn about your passions and sexuality. It’s rare for a genuine ‘love life’ to bud in college years—and that’s totally OK.”

Read all survey responses here. The original story is here.

Joe Chan, Kristina Roman, and David Keefe contributed to this article.

42 Comments
Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

42 Comments on How BU Dates

  • C.H. on 02.14.2013 at 6:40 am

    While the survey was obviously flawed, this infographic is an interesting means of describing the data.

    I’m sure many will respond with criticism. I’d like to encourage BU Today to do more surveys/data visualization in the future (with lessons learned).

    • S.K on 02.15.2013 at 11:55 am

      I agree! There’s a since of togetherness that I got from the survey. I think the survey made BU more relatable to me. More infographics please!

  • Andrew on 02.14.2013 at 6:59 am

    “transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender”

    You really refuse to read anything, don’t you.

    “cisgender” is an antonym of those other words. You have registered the survey invalid.

    • Jordan Montgomery on 02.14.2013 at 9:18 am

      Hi Andrew,

      While I understand and sympathize with your frustration, the statistical validity of the survey is not compromised. There is simply an ambiguity in the data. What CAN be said is the following: “If you enjoy taking online surveys and are Male, then there is an X% chance you believe Y about dating relationships.” Similarly, we can say, “If you enjoy taking online surveys and DO NOT identify as either Male or Female, then there is a Q% chance that you believe R about dating relationships.”

      By failing to distinguish the cisgender identity from the other gender identities, the survey fails to answer the question “What do cisgender people believe about dating and how is it different from what transgender, male, female, etc… people believe about dating.”

      I am not at all related to this survey. I’m just a graduate student with “old school” sexual convictions and an uncommon love for statistics.

      All the best,
      Jordan

      • NM on 02.14.2013 at 11:28 am

        Hi Jordan,

        Have you ever head either the expression “garbage in, garbage out”, or “fancy statistical methods will not rescue garbage data”?

        Their question on gender orientation was flawed because a subset of the population may have felt that none of the choices were correct for them. We have no way of knowing how many people there were, how they self-identify, and how they identified on this survey, ergo we have no way of trying to fix the data (which usually wouldn’t work with this type of flawed data anyway). With this dataset, which looks at almost all the questions by gender identity, we have quite a bit of garbage.

      • Frank on 02.14.2013 at 5:29 pm

        Jordan,

        Let me see if I can illustrate the point I believe people were trying to make. I was born with male sex organs and identify myself as a male. I am male, but I’m also cisgender (I identify with my birth gender). If I’m taking this survey I could either check off Male or Cisgender. Given the lack of understanding of this term, I doubt anyone in my position would have selected cisgender, however at a university we should strive for accuracy. I hope that might clarify things a little bit.

    • alum on 02.14.2013 at 9:18 am

      I can’t believe that, after all that outcry, they still refused to update the survey to contain accurate gender terms. Ridiculous.

      • john on 02.14.2013 at 9:59 am

        Its not just a minor discrepency, its like having there be three options on a survey that are 1a 2b 3c,a,orb. Besides that its a slap in the face to anyone who identifies as lgbtq. To not even take a line to acknowledge the mistake… I can’t believe anyone involved in this allowed it to be published.

      • Bob on 02.14.2013 at 10:03 am

        “Accurate” is subjective. Trying for force the latest gender theories as facts, pretending chromosomes and basic biology do not exist in the real world is beyond innacurate – it is silly. “gender” has become a wax nose. There should never be a tyranny of thought, especially when there is no hard science or genuinely objective social science to back up such categories.

        Now I understand the criticism of not using a term accurately over and over again – that is sloppy and unprofessional.

        • tomandsarah on 02.14.2013 at 10:24 am

          I think it is like a lumper vs splitter type debate in biology. the lumper’s view is “What is your genetic sex and how does that compare to your preferred mates genetic sex?” The splitters are interested in creating a larger number of sub categories to describe more of the variation in sexuality. I think part of the issue comes down to your vision on sexuality broadly. I would count myself a lumper but because I think it is absurd to try and build a category for every sexual identity and preference because everyone has a fundamentally unique sexual identity and you would need infinite categories. For example “Bronies” are not mentioned in the survey either but they have a very specific and unique sexual identification as well.

        • BU Grad Student on 02.17.2013 at 2:37 am

          I don’t see how acknowledging that transgender people can have a mental conception of their gender that differs from their biological sex (I think the reason you’re not getting this is you’re mixing up sex and gender) is “pretending chromosomes and basic biology do not exist in the real world.”

    • Chris on 02.14.2013 at 10:44 am

      This is correct, Andrew.

      I am not at related to this survey. I’m just a graduate student with an uncommon love for humans.

  • Kris on 02.14.2013 at 7:28 am

    This survey is a relatively accurate representation of my experience here at BU. One thing I have found confusing is the overwhelming majority of girls who say they prefer to be asked out in person. My experience has been that girls act weird or awkward when you just try to talk to them like they don’t really want to talk. And this is with casual conversation, not even asking them out yet. Perhaps it’s the perception that males just want to hook up that makes girls apprehensive, or that they’re just not used to a guy actually trying to have a conversation with them. Or maybe it’s something else altogether. I’ve just had zero luck trying to converse with girls in person during my time at BU and since I’m graduating in May, it seems it’ll stay that way.

    • Same Boat on 02.14.2013 at 9:08 am

      Amen.

  • Jes on 02.14.2013 at 9:41 am

    I find this survey offensive. I am Cis gendered and do not appreciate being lumped onto the ‘other’ category. We are not trans, we are not gay. Please consider doing research about your student body

    • tomandsarah on 02.14.2013 at 10:17 am

      Hi Jes,
      I, and I assume other readers, am curios about the term cis-gender. Per wikipedia it means that your self identified gender matches your genetic sex. i.e. you are genetically male and identify as male or vice versa. I do not understand exactly what this entails at it seems to unrelated to sexual identity in the conventional sense with respect to the other survey options. Could you or someone else elaborate a bit? This term is younger than most students at BU having been coined in the late 90s and those out of the loop could benefit from some expansion on it.

      It strikes me, as a non-sociologist who has only read the wiki article on it, as splitting hairs a bit. But then I think our society is overly obsessed with how consenting adults express their sexual selves (or not). It is all just friction after all and love goes beyond the friction of a sex act and beyond gender and genetics.

      • Aaron L'Heureux on 02.14.2013 at 2:26 pm

        I also checked the article on Wikipedia and am left with a ‘huh?’ feeling. It appears to be a term used to remove the ‘not normal’ stigma from the comparison transgendered/non-transgendered or sometimes transgendered/normal.

        Unless I have this wrong I’m further confused as to how you’d be in the other category if you are cisgendered as that is simply male identifying as male or female identifying as female (did the survey put cisgendered in the other category?).

        • L on 02.14.2013 at 3:03 pm

          You’re correct; you wouldn’t be in the “other” category. “Cis-gendered male” and “cis-gendered female” are included in the “male” and “female” options.

        • BU Grad Student on 02.17.2013 at 2:39 am

          You’re confused because whoever designed the survey apparently doesn’t understand what “cisgender” means, which is why they put it in the “other” category.

          (Frankly, I don’t see why there needed to be anything about trans vs. cis in there in the first place. Most transgender people identify as men or women, not as some inbetween third gender. There ARE some people who identify as a third gender, but it’s better to put “some other gender” and contrast that with “male” and “female” rather than add “transgender” as a category, when trans people vary in their gender presentations.)

  • Other kin on 02.14.2013 at 9:44 am

    Why no mention of other-kins? We deserve a fair representation too. I am an other kin and I do not fit into any of your prescribed labels

    • same boat on 02.14.2013 at 5:09 pm

      amen

  • Mike on 02.14.2013 at 9:48 am

    Would have been even more interesting if the survey had separated the gay/lesbian/queer population in numbers, just to see how the many gay men on campus date. Not perfect in terms of understanding gender identities, but it’s a start. Well done.

    • BU Grad Student on 02.17.2013 at 2:41 am

      There should be separation because there’s always been a difference in how gay/bi men date and how lesbian/bi women date. Particularly at BU, where there is a much larger gay male community than lesbian community. I agree.

  • a on 02.14.2013 at 9:53 am

    The lack of sexuality options in this survey was also disappointing. As a demisexual female I would have liked to see at least asexual or gray-a up there. Sadly this survey missed a chance to really diversify its results.

    • Other kin on 02.14.2013 at 10:27 am

      Amen

    • L on 02.14.2013 at 12:01 pm

      A, I agree entirely. I’m also a demisexual female and I didn’t finish the survey because I felt uncomfortable being forced to choose one of the three options. Many people don’t take asexualilty or gray-asexuality seriously and it would have been nice to feel recognized.

  • here on 02.14.2013 at 11:52 am

    Please stop worrying about the sexual orientation and gender options. You sometimes have to “bin” data in order to make the results worthwhile.

    For example, if this also asked what our age was in years and months, we’d have dozens and dozens of new categories, making it seem like there really is a difference between people that are 19 years old and 7 months old and people that are 19 years old and 8 months.

    By binning all of the gender identities that are not simply male or female, it gives transgender/genderqueer/nonconforming/variant/cisgender students a larger chunk of representation. If we had separate categories for all sexual orientations and genders, we would run into the chance of having such a small amount of each that the results would be insignificant. Try and think of the categories like this instead:

    What is your gender identity?:

    -People that will represent the opinions of someone who has had thousands of years of masculine gender roles to work off of.
    -People that will represent the opinions of someone who has had thousands of years of feminine gender roles to work off of.
    -People that will represent the opinions of someone who is part of a new generation of gender identity, who’s just discovering/pioneering what it’s like to be their orientation/gender

    And sure the cisgender thing was a mistake, but please give there guys the benefit of the doubt. Making surveys of this size properly is VERY difficult. Let’s appreciate that BU isn’t apathetic towards wanting to figure out this sort of stuff!

    • a on 02.14.2013 at 12:57 pm

      This is a really good point. Handling large data sets is hard. Binning is practical and helpful and still gets you good analysis.

      But personally, I think people are less concerned about the statistical integrity of the survey and more peeved about its unrepresentative nature and inaccurate understanding of cisgender. We can all agree that the survey did a great job of revealing some social goings-ons and opinions on the dating scene and stuff. There’s some fun results here, which was the whole point of the survey. But the fact that many participants felt the need to abstain from answering some or all of the questions is really what bothers me. It doesn’t have to be as painstaking of a categorization as birth year/month would be: honestly just including an “other” option would have been a fine way of quantifying and validating those who didn’t quite fit the bill of what was given. That BU tried to include many identities and sexualities IS GREAT. But with the way some terms were handled or altogether excluded it’s easy to feel like they didn’t dig as deep as could have.

      I understand that lot of these orientations/genders are very new and not well known, but experience and history can attest that it’s hard not to get personally invested or nit picky over any identities of any sort.

  • BU Grad Student on 02.14.2013 at 11:59 am

    So, you guys didn’t even try to look up “cisgender,” even though there were a million comments about how you used that term incorrectly?

  • Jeff on 02.14.2013 at 1:01 pm

    Honestly I think we as society need to make a distinction between “Gender” and “sexual orientation.” You can say you have a different gender than male or female, but unless you are legitimately intersex or a hermaphrodite, you do not; gender is biological and comes down to XX vs XY and that is hardcore indisputable scientific fact, not a social issue to be debated and modified. Even transgendered individuals or those who successfully undergo sexual reassignment surgery are not a new gender. They may appear it, but genetically they remain the same. If medical science and gene therapy progresses to the point where you can completely change a biological male to a biological female (which it may very well in years to come), that will be a different story, but I think that for now we should term it as what it is: a different Sexual Orientation or Alternative Lifestyle choice.

    I am not saying with the intention of offending anyone, but out of a desire to have clarity in our daily lives and not use literal and figurative terms interchangeably.

    • Student on 02.14.2013 at 2:18 pm

      I think you’re confusing gender and sex. Sex is biological (male/female at birth), and gender is what you identify with.

      • Jeff on 02.14.2013 at 3:58 pm

        “Gender” did not come to be used for that term until the late 1970′s and only became really synonymous with it in the last 15 years or so. And by having describe their “gender identity” as say Lesbian, for example, one is implying that that is different from the “gender identity” of a heterosexual woman, when in reality each woman’s sexual orientation may have nothing to do with their identification with femininity and their gender (I have a few friends who are feminists, some hetero and some gay, but they share the common identity being a woman and femininity). That is not to say such a distinction would be true in all cases, but it is essentially forcing people to group two unrelated aspects of themselves into one category, which may lead to them not accurately being identified socially and demographically as the person they are as an individual.

        • BU Grad Student on 02.17.2013 at 2:44 am

          Yeah, no one is saying that lesbians and heterosexual women have different genders. We’re talking about the difference between transgender and non-trans people, and why the former group are different – because their mental gender is different from their biological sex. Because those are different things.

          Sexual orientation is a completely separate issue that you’re confusing with gender identity, but no one else is.

    • Student* on 02.16.2013 at 12:33 pm

      There are actually persons with XY chromosomes that have female genitalia, and various other possibilities. Most people could not definitively say whether they were XY or XX.

  • Student #2 on 02.14.2013 at 1:09 pm

    Everyone needs to relax about the whole other category. Only 4,000 students took the survey anyways. There are not that many cis-, demi- whatever people at BU anyways. If they had separated all those categories it would: 1. Look dumb with 100 different categories and 2. Not be statistically significant because there might be only 5 people who took the survey who consider themselves cis or whatever. And honestly, be whoever you want, identify as whatever you want, but basically anyone can coin their own term for their sexuality. No one is disrespecting you just because they’re unsure about what it is or it’s just not big enough to be cared about in a college survey. This was suppose to be for fun. Everyone at BU has to be so p.c. but it just makes all of you look uptight and annoying.

    • L on 02.14.2013 at 2:23 pm

      Your point is fair. It’s hard to include every defining characteristic a person has at BU. I think we’re mostly frustrated that our comments on the survey page were not acknowledged at all by the person who created the survey. For example, they never even removed “cis-gender” from the 3rd option.

      As for your assertion that “there aren’t that many cis-whatever people at BU” I would say that the majority of the BU population is cis-gender. If you identify as the gender that is associated with your biological sex (i.e. you identify as a women and were born with female genitalia) then you are cis-gender. Thus, the cis-gender option was already included in the survey under the options “male” and “female.” The fact that students made this mistake apparent in the comments, but the survey wasn’t even changed shows that the creator doesn’t really care about the validity of the questions. They put in the motions of being inclusive without caring enough to be accurate. I think it’s this apathy that’s making everyone so frustrated.

    • BU Grad Student on 02.17.2013 at 2:42 am

      “There are not that many cis-, demi- whatever people at BU anyways.”

      Actually, considering that cisgender means “people whose gender identity match their biological sex,” the vast majority of BU students are cisgender. That’s part of the problem with how the term was used; they think it’s some new gender identity thing when even a cursory glance at the Wikipedia page would have told them that cisgender is the term for the NORM.

  • Daniel Carman on 02.14.2013 at 1:17 pm

    Let’s count again… Of the 22 comments I have read, only the comment by Kris is a comment about the survey and the dating culture of BU. The rest is a debate on who is included, excluded, or potentially incorrectly represented.

  • Queer Activist Old Lady on 02.14.2013 at 1:26 pm

    I was a bit miffed at first by the misuse of the term “cisgender.” I doubt it affected the results of this study, which had already clearly proclaimed itself to be unscientific, since I’m guessing there’s nobody out there who identifies as cisgender that wouldn’t have realized this mistake, and selected either “male” or “female” instead.

    Most of all, though, I’m excited to see progress. Sure, the survey stumbled a bit there, but the inclusion of non-cisgender categories (even binned together) is something you just wouldn’t see on college dating surveys when I came out in 1985.

    There’s always a part of me that wants to say, “You kids don’t know how good you’ve got it these days! Get off my lawn!” But of course, there wouldn’t be progress without the rabble-rousers. So keep raising that rabble! And remember, part of the reason to call people out on these mistakes is so that they can learn. So if you can find a little understanding in your heart too for people’s human failings as they try to adapt to what they perceive as a changing world, all the better.

  • Curious on 02.14.2013 at 3:18 pm

    Has it occurred to anyone that the use of “other gender identities” was motivated by the desire to have meaningful results? What good would the data be if the survey sample size was 1 or 2 people? Unless there is a large underground asexual population (or otherkin population) the results for those groups would be wildly misleading. I may be wrong, but I thought that point was worth considering for those of you who find the study offensive.

  • Stacey Goguen on 02.14.2013 at 5:36 pm

    The cisgender mistake on the survey is upsetting because it is a sign that the people who included it on the survey did not have the faintest idea what the word meant, otherwise they would have recognized it as the contrast class for transgender. This is incredibly insulting to (1) everyone who expects minimum standards of journalistic integrity from BU Today and (2) everyone who identifies as part of this third, ‘other’ group, since their gender identities are already ignored and marginalized in many aspects of our society. The mistake stands as a callous reminder that many of us can’t be *bothered* to learn that some people do not fit neatly (and/or do not want to fit neatly) in the categories that many of us deem are “normal” and/or “natural.”

    Case in point, some commenters on this post claim that by merely including these gender identities that many of us are unaccustomed to, the survey creators are pandering to the latest fad of theories and may even be engaging in some sort of “tyranny.” (Because of course, insisting that another person’s experience of their own identity is wrong, confused, silly, or shallow, that there are only two genders, that there can only ever be two genders, and that there should only ever be two genders, is nowhere near the vicinity of intellectual tyranny.)

    Accommodating people who are normally ignored is not “tyranny.” Their identity is not a “fad” just because some people only started hearing about it recently. One person’s ignorance of another’s experience is not a mark against the latter’s credibility.

    Some people might want to laugh because this seems ludicrous that people are getting so *upset* about something that you’ve never heard of or have never considered to be important. Please take a minute to consider that just because something is inconsequential to you does not mean that it is and should be inconsequential to everyone as a group.

    If you know nothing or little of what concepts like “transgender”, “cisgender,” and “genderqueer” mean, please take five minutes to google them before you sound off your opinion on other people’s lives. (Hint: If you think (or suspect) that these concepts are somehow in conflict with the basic facts of biology, you know little to nothing about them.)

    And just because you don’t know anyone (or you think you don’t know anyone) who has a gender identity that you are unfamiliar with does not mean that these identities are not real, substantial, or deserving of the same respect and status we accord to people who are cisgender and fit neatly into the boxes of woman and man.

  • CD on 02.26.2013 at 9:40 am

    Online dating: It’s only creepy if you make it creepy! I am curious as to how many students have met their partners online. I have a hard time believing that many students think online dating is creepy since almost everyone I know does it. Who the heck did BU TODAY survey?

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