Ohio University’s recently adopted preferred name policy is just one example of the work that occupies delfin bautista* each day as the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Center. The Center is the first LGBT Center in the state of Ohio and it has been instrumental in helping Ohio University become one of 55 universities nationwide that offers gender neutral housing. bautista worked with University administration to adopt a preferred name and pronoun policy which enables all Ohio University students to use their preferred names and pronouns in the Student Portal (the student information system).
This means that rather than having to approach professors to request the usage of a different name, the student’s chosen name will appear on class rosters, advising lists and anywhere the student ID card is used. bautista believes the preferred name policy benefits all students, not just transgender or other LGBT students, since other students might wish to be known by another name than their official name of record.
A social worker and theologian by training, bautista is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and social justice as well as creating spaces where individuals and communities are both safe and challenged to wrestle through questions around identity and expression. bautista earned master’s degrees in divinity and in social work. delfin's background includes chaplaincy, HIV/AIDS case management, LGBTQ advocacy, and trauma therapy.
bautista says coming to lead the LGBT Center at Ohio University represented an opportunity for them to build off the work of others. “We have an inclusive non-discrimination policy that includes not only orientation, but gender identity,” says bautista. “The university has done some really innovative things.” Nearly 10 years ago the University adopted a domestic partner policy to allow same-sex couples to access some of the benefits that married couples are entitled to.
Though bautista celebrates the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, they say there is much work still to be done. “Marriage equality is just one step on a journey of ensuring that all are equal truly means all are equal,” says bautista. “The decision by the Supreme Court was exciting, and affirmed that our relationships and families have the right to be respected and treated equally under the law.” bautista says the day the Supreme Court ruling came down was a day of celebration as well as a re-energizer for the work still to be done. “Marriage is not the end goal for the movement,” bautista explains. “There is still very urgent work to be done, around trans inclusion, anti-bullying, healthcare access, immigration reform, and other areas that impact LGBT people.
Some of the pressing needs that bautista sees for the LGBT community include trans education and care. Campus Care provides specialized health services for those who identify as gender-variant, transgender and/or transsexual. Clinical staff work in conjunction with the individual student to address the health issues most important to the student including hormone therapy and vocal therapy. bautista is now working with partners across the campus of Ohio University to designate and map gender-neutral bathrooms.
bautista’s work extends beyond campus into the larger community. Center staff offer SafeZone trainings across campus and in the greater community. SafeZone is a training program open to all students, staff, faculty, and community members with the goal of raising awareness about the dynamics of gender and sexual orientation while exploring different ways to embody inclusive allyship for people of all orientations, genders, sexualities, identities, and levels of being out. bautista is available for consultation and support to community organizations and was delighted to see an advisor for the Athens High School Gay Straight Alliance emerge out of a SafeZone training facilitated at the Athens Public Library. In addition to supporting the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) groups at Athens High School and Federal Hocking High School, bautista and the LGBT Center have also provided training for mental health providers, educators, and others throughout southeast Ohio.
*delfin prefers the lowercase form of their name and gender neutral/plural pronouns (they, them, their) or just delfin.
bautista’s media placements include:
New York Daily News
The College Fix
The Columbus Dispatch
The Athens News
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