When I enrolled at OU, I identified as a heterosexual man. Or rather I would have, had I ever thought about it. Gender identity had never been a concern for me, as since childhood I had been raised in a conservative society by conservative parents who expected me to be a typical male, and I followed those expectations unquestioningly and unthinkingly. I have also suffered from major depression since elementary school, which greatly hindered my ability to communicate and connect with people (and thereby learn of other identities).
After coming to OU, I encountered a few people who did not fit neatly into the categories I had been raised to believe in, people I could not immediately identify as male or female. This bothered me, and I avoided them. Only by happenstance did I have a class with such a person and was forced into interaction. In an effort to counteract my depression we conversed, and for the first time I thought seriously about my gender. Am I a “man”? What is a “man”? Such questions led me to realize I don’t care about gender. Even before coming to OU I had been uncomfortable with stereotypical masculinity, but I had not been able to identify that. I became increasingly aware of and uncomfortable with the norms demanded of people, and now I try to think carefully about my actions and whether I am blindly following arbitrary gender norms.
I cannot recall any of my professors ever mentioning gender identity in any positive or negative way, and outside of OU mass mail I never encountered or learned of any relevant student groups. However, my depression begot social and mental isolation, so I cannot usefully represent the prevalence of student groups or the effectiveness of OU’s support thereof. I think at best I can say that before I came to OU I identified as a heterosexual man and followed such norms, and now I do not. I am still biologically male, but I no longer see that as central to my identity or how I should treat or behave around people.