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Queer Peer Program

The Mission of the Queer Peer Program is to promote the success of UW Oshkosh students of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, including but not limited to asexual, bisexual, demisexual, gay, genderqueer, intersex, lesbian, pansexual, polyamourous, queer, questioning, transgender, and two spirit. This program helps students expand their potential as individuals and connect with other LGBTQ+ students at UW Oshkosh in a friendly and confidential setting.

 

The Queer Peer Program is designed for...

  • Upper classman
  • International students
  • Transfer students
  • Nontraditional students
  • Students living off campus
  • Incoming first year students
  • Students living on campus

Peers are here to talk about...

  • Career development questions
  • Coming out
  • Culture, ethnicity, and LGBTQ+
  • Dating
  • Getting acquainted with campus
  • How academic and LGBTQ+ influence one another
  • LGBTQ+ History
  • Myths and stereotypes
  • New relationships
  • Specific questions that need specific answers

How do I come out without making my parents think I am trying to fit in or this is just a phase?

  • This is such an important question that so many of us have asked in our journeys.  And there is no one easy answer.  Each of us would have a different answer, and you need the one that allows you to be true to you.  I found that telling my parents I loved them and being consistent and serious in my discussions with them about my queerness worked overtime.  And then finding support in other ways–through counseling, through groups of people going through similar experiences.  It also makes a difference if you are still living with your parents or not.  The LGBTQ Resource Center on campus is a place you can come and be you, but I also know that many see it as too public.  We have a good LGBTQIA+ library and books can be checked out through email and arranging a safe place to get them.

How can I get a good chest binder on a low budget?

The LGBTQ Resource Center has a great solution for getting chest binders on a low budget. Through a program called Gender Outfitters, the Resource Center is able to order binders confidentially and have them shipped right there so that even if you are living at home or are in a situation where you may not be able to order your own, it can be there for you. Beyond the confidentiality, Gender Outfitters exists in order to help transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who may not be able to cover the costs of gender-affirming clothing, such as a binder, on their own. If your budget is quite low, one can even be provided at no cost to you. While the program is relatively new, it will soon also provide the ability to try on different sized binders privately to find out what suits you best.

How do I know if I'm ready for a mentor?

I believe someone knows that they are ready when they start asking the question of whether or not they are. For me, I had a mentor really late in life. I wish that I could have found a support network sooner but the one I have found is just as amazing. The earlier you are at trying to figure out yourself, the more time you have to figure everything out. If you do decide to have a mentor, it doesn’t mean you have to identify a certain way. It can be your “testing out the waters of information” time.

How do you figure out your gender identity and pronouns?

Do you have tips for figuring out what gender identity fits you best? Also when trying to figure out what gender identity to use is it okay to “try out” different pronouns?
Great question! When it comes to figuring out gender identity, you’ve already said it best. Try things out.  As a transman, it definitely took time for me to finally figure out what identity suited me best.  In fact, it took me three years from coming out as “something gender nonconforming” to finally figuring out that being a transman was the identity for me.  One of the places I first looked was the internet.  While it is like the wild west, there are websites and YouTube channels and forums of people of all sorts of identities and all sorts of coming out stories.  This was how I first even realized that I was transgender.  I also looked to the LGBTQ Resource Center for some books to read about transgender identities.  Depending on your comfort level, you can go down to the Center and check out their library, or you can even talk to a counselor at the Counseling Center, and they will get a book for you so that it’s a completely confidential process.
The biggest tip for figuring out which identity fits you best is to not let people pressure you into an identity.  There’s a stigma that exists that the coming out process happens overnight, and that suddenly, you know exactly who you are.  I don’t know many people at all that this is actually the case.  At 23 years old, I only finally feel like I’m on the right track – and even then, I still don’t know exactly how I identify sometimes!  And there is nothing wrong with changing labels if you don’t think it fits you.  In fact, I encourage people to not get tied down by terminology.  Play with words, link terms together, read different definitions, create definitions! It’s your identity to craft and mold, not a box you need to fit yourself into.
As for pronouns, I again would encourage you to try them out.  When I finally decided I would be transitioning, I asked my significant other and a few close friends to start calling me “he” and “Ian” prior to coming out to everyone.  It really helped with the process, because I had to get used to no longer being my birth name and “she.”  In fact, for a little while, I went back to my previous nickname and stuck with “she” just because I personally wasn’t getting used to the pronouns.  It’s perfectly alright.  However, I find the best way to experiment like that is to have some trustworthy friends who may know you are questioning your identity to help you out.  That way, you can also talk to them about how you are feeling about the pronouns.  If this isn’t a possibility or something you are comfortable with, try using the internet for that as well.  There is nothing wrong with creating additional profiles on Facebook or on transgender forums to test out a new name or pronouns and to talk to complete strangers in groups and threads to find out if something fits you.
Most importantly, remember that gender and sexuality are fluid identities, not something rigid. If you feel comfortable with something one day, and then a few weeks later it just isn’t working for you, that’s okay.  Journal about your experiences to keep track of your feelings, find situations where you can play with identities, and think of it as a journey.  If you are looking for additional resources, websites, etc., don’t hesitate to ask!

How should I come out to my roommate?

There are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about coming out to your roommate. If you feel safe around them, let them know that you have something important to talk about and that they should set aside time for the two of you to speak. Once you’re together, just let them know how you identify. Explain your identity and allow them to ask questions. The best way to avoid your roommate being awkward or uncomfortable is to educate them. Let them know that just because you identify as XYZ doesn’t mean that you’re going to be hitting on them or staring at them while they change. If you’re not out on campus, ask them to keep it between the two of you until you’re ready to come out on a large scale. The main thing to keep in mind when coming out to anyone is to do it on your terms. If you feel uncomfortable or not ready, take time and practice coming out. Think over what you want to say and what you want the outcome to be. Mentors would always be willing to sit with you and help you practice as well.

 

What other resources are there on campus?

There are many great LGBTQ+ resources on campus.  The LGBTQ Resource Center has lots of information.  The student organization, Rainbow Alliance for H.O.P.E. is another great resource on campus.  They meet Monday evenings.  The Counseling Center is a great place to go if you have questions or concerns as well as the Women’s Center.

Want a Peer?

All of our mentors receive training in partnership with the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center. Participants will meet with peers for one-on-one meetings in confidentiality.

Become a Peer

The Queer Peer Program enables peers to mentor peers in the process of developing a positive LGBTQ+ identity and of acclimating to college life.

Mentors will be trained by the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center staff, and are encouraged to attend SAFE Training and Stop the Hate Training.