It was “the best and worst day of my life,” said Yanna Awtrey, 21, to Advocate in an email. Awtrey, a student of Welch College, Gallatin, underwent a gender transition surgery this month. However, just hours after he awakened from anesthesia, he received an email, from his College, suspending him. The reason? The nature of his surgery.
Yanna Awtery, grew up a son of Baptist Free Will missionaries. Assigned female gender at birth, Awtery realised his transgender identity from the age of 15. All through his puberty, Awtery had been experiencing gender dysphoria, even though he hadn’t heard of the term ‘transgender’. He explained how he felt saying,
“that my body needed to be more than it was. And for that reason, i thought i hated my body. I wasn’t able to fully become who I wanted to be.”
-As reported by Tennessean
Gender dysphoria is a medical condition wherein the individual is conflicted about their gender assigned at birth and the gender they identify with. Awtery thought that his gender dysphoria was actually poor self-esteem. He recalls the time when he was 14 and visited the states with his family. It was on this trip when he, for the first time, tried masculine clothing. He told Tennessean that the euphoria he felt at that moment “really stuck” in his head.
It was time to head for College:
When a decision had to be made for his choice of college, a non-Christian college wasn’t something his parents approved of. Hence, he joined a private Baptist school, Welch College, situated in Northeast Nashville. Awtery only informed a few people and his parents, that he is transgender. However, his parent’s aren’t supportive of his identity. They are currently on a long term missionary trip in Bulgaria.
As part of his transition, Awtery began with hormone replacement therapy earlier this year. Furthermore, on August 2nd, he had a gender transition surgery. Specifically, a top surgery for breast reduction. He said,
“I woke up and I cried from happiness to the point where my nurse told me to be quieter for the other patients’ sake.”
– As reported by NBC News
It was “the best and worst day of my life.”
Awtery had asked friends of his parents to care for him post-surgery. However, when the caretakers realised the nature of the surgery, post completion of the procedure, they immediately informed his College and parents. The couple also refused to take care of the student.
While he was still recovering post-surgery, he received an email from Jon Forlines, the school’s vice president. The email was to inform Awtery that he was no longer welcome on campus. The email read,
“Please be aware that because of the choices you have made we will not be able to allow you to come back to the dorm,”
-As reviewed by Buzzfeed News
The College concluded the email saying, “We’re praying for you that the love of Christ will speak to your every need in the coming days”. A couple of days later, the College offered to cover his stay in a motel and food, for a week. However, he would be on his own then on.
Awtery also posted about the situation on Facebook. When asked by the college to withdraw from the school voluntarily, and amend the Facebook post, he declined, resulting in a hearing on Wednesday, 7th Aug in front of the disciplinary committee.
The decision resulted in a 2-semester suspension with an option to re-apply post the suspension. Nonetheless, he told Advocate, in his email, that he doubts the college would accept him, and that the suspension is under, “the false notion that I have a chance at returning into their good graces.”
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Until Monday he stayed at the college provided accommodation. Furthermore, It will take about 2 months for him to heal enough from the surgery to find a job. During this period, he has found new friends with whom he can stay.
Welch College’s stance:
There is no rule that explicitly bars students from undergoing gender transition surgery, in the college handbook. However, in the disciplinary hearing, vice president Forlines claimed that Awtery violated a clause from the handbook that bans “engaging in acts of sex immorality—including premarital and extramarital relations, sexual advances and sexual perversion in any form.” – As reported by News Week
Welch College did not comment on Awtery’s case but clarified its stance to Buzzfeed news. In their statement they said,
“The College holds that God created humanity in two distinct and complementary sexes: male and female. The College acknowledges that the Fall of humanity into sin has introduced brokenness into God’s good creation, including in the realm of human sexuality.
“Welch College believes that individuals experiencing such confusion — and the distress that usually accompanies it — should be treated with love and compassion. The College also believes that attempting to alter one’s bodily identity constitutes a rejection of God’s design for humanity.”
The president of the college, Matt Pinson, added that “We will continue to pray for all people experiencing gender confusion while also honoring the values of this institution and its sponsoring denomination, which are shared by the Christian tradition over two millennia.”
School’s policies and expectations:
Welch college said that students are informed about the policies and principles of the school. Through a comment on Advocate’s post, a Welch graduate also defends the college decision by saying that the school is not against transgender people, however, “It stands on the biblical principle that sexual perversion (including the altering of one’s sexual orientation to better fit what he/she defines themselves as rather than the way they were born) is a sin. Welch College is very clear with students their expectations and beliefs before students ever enroll. The same consequences would have been the result of a night at the bar that resulted in a drunken state, or a night in with one’s significant other outside the bounds of marriage.”
Source Credit: Advocate, LGBTQ Nation, NBC News, News Week, Pink News, Tennessean,