June 24, 2024

Transgender Residential Experience Coming to South Neighborhood 

The Transgender Residential Experience, TREx, is coming to Michigan State University’s South Neighborhood this fall. TREx will be a dedicated living space designed specifically for transgender, nonbinary, Two-Spirit, gender-nonconforming and all gender-expansive students.  

Building on a Legacy of Inclusion 
Before TREx, MSU offered flex housing, which was introduced in 2016 as the first gender-inclusive housing program on campus. Flex housing allowed students to request housing based on their gender identity and/or expression. However, it was not always guaranteed those who requested flex housing would receive it based on limitations of available campus housing options. 

With this in mind, the TREx community was designed as a space centered around the trans and nonbinary student experience to best support their success on campus.  As part of this effort, a new full-time position was created, with much of its focus being the TREx community. Enter Em Wolfe. Hired as the new coordinator of Transgender Student Support for the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center (GSCC), Wolfe will support, advocate for and advise transgender students at MSU. 

A Safe Space for Growth, Healing and Exploration 
One of the main goals of TREx is to give students a space to feel safe by providing opportunities to experience community healing through outlets such as artistic expression, personal development and community exploration.  

“We want to support students going through their own personal development and seeing how they can identify their identities and build their academic, emotional and social wellness as they grow alongside each other in a space where their experiences are not only centered, but listened, heard and responded to,” says Wolfe. 

Empowering Students Through Community and Support 
Alongside their team, Wolfe will be working with residents in the TREx community to create an inclusive space where students will live and learn together. As a nonbinary, transmasc person themselves, Wolfe understands the importance of gender-inclusive housing. 

“Gender-inclusive housing wasn’t even remotely possible for me when I was going through college, as housing was based off of the two perceived genders,” says Wolfe. “Being at multiple institutions since then and seeing how gender-inclusive housing can work as well as creating intentional spaces where trans, nonbinary and queer students have that sense of community is a passion of mine.” 

Engaging Programming and Adaptability 
Additionally, Wolfe wants to provide programming that has an educational component but is also fun and engaging.  

This includes, once a semester, a representative from the Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen) visiting the residence hall to discuss various topics with the residents. There will also be weekly and monthly standing events that the resident assistant, community director or Wolfe themselves will host. 

As TREx is still developing, Wolfe is working to make sure the community fulfills the needs of its residents through an assessment through which students will be able to give feedback. 

“If students aren’t liking the way that we’re supporting them, the content of the program sessions or things along that line, we can change those and be flexible. It’s a highly adaptable community,” Wolfe says. 

A Welcoming Campus 
TREx is a testament to MSU's commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. Wolfe is pleased to experience so much campus-wide support for this new community.  

“It is important to know that there are a lot of people, especially across campus, who are wanting this to succeed and want us to be here and be out and proud.” 

To learn about the community, visit liveon.msu.edu/TREx or reach out to Em Wolfe. 

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