Transgender Pinay scholar claims discrimination in housing fight at Cornell University

NEW YORK – Transgender Filipina Meredith Talusan is a literature graduate student and a scholarship recipient at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. With a Harvard literature undergrad degree, this Bulacena is also applying for a professorial position at Cornell University. As a scholar at Cornell, she gets free housing, as well as free meals.

But she may soon lose those privileges.

It all began after she came out as the first openly transgender resident at the Telluride House earlier in the year. Shortly after that, Talusan claims she was harassed and discriminated by a housemate whom we will only refer to as “MB”.

The Telluride Association requested ABS-CBN News not to name the housemate for safety reasons.

”It’s because I’m a transgender,” said Talusan. “I am always heckled. People come up to me and say, “you’re a man dressed as a woman,” and they also say “you lost your penis.”

Talusan soon filed a complaint before the housing administration against MB not only for these alleged harassment but for also reportedly bringing strangers to their shared home using a couch surfing website.

After an investigation, the Telluride Association ruled that MB did not break any rules. MB was also allowed to remain as a resident of their shared home.

MB could not be reached for comments at this time.

Mean time the conflict worsened between the two when Talusan and her friends broke into an impromptu protest against her alleged violator chanting “this is what democracy looks like”.

“Within 48 hours we got an email, saying that we suspended from the house,” said Talusan. “We cannot eat there. We can be in there and we have 24 hours to leave. So that was when I said “I’m not leaving.”

Talusan is now battling the Telluride Association saying she should be able to keep her housing scholarship. Talusan accuses the housing administration of having double standards as a result of transphobia.

“I’m working very hard,” said Talusan. “I’m struggling to have a better life. Just because I’m a transgender, just because I don’t look like everyone else – I am being mistreated. I don’t complain but all this is happening to me. There seems to be no justice anywhere.”

In an email to ABS-CBN News, Telluride Association President Amy Saltzman says they do not tolerate harassment, discrimination or threats to the safety or privacy of their students.

She says she cannot comment on the details of the investigation but they are working to provide housing for all parties involved.

In just a matter of days, Talusan says she is expecting to find out the final decision from the housing administration on whether she could stay or not at her campus home – a decision that could truly affect her future.

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