But then I got to wondering if anyone has looked into the possibility that distance learning programs have a higher percentage of trans-identified/gender-questioning students than regular brick-and mortar ones. I think the environmental factors are there that might draw more gender non-conforming students than traditional higher ed environments:
- Less safety concerns: in a distance learning environment, you can do your academic work relatively anonymously online, where gender expression and "fitting-in" would not be an issue or a possible weapon to be used against you in face-to-face social situations. You don't have to worry about walking across campus and being harassed or worse by drunken frat boys, etc.
- Distance learning inherently draws older students and older trans-identified individuals are perhaps more likely to have grappled with gender expression issues and "come out."
- You don't have to worry about bathroom usage issues as much.
- You don't have to worry as much about your voice "outing" you to your classmates or causing confusion among your classmates.
- You don't have to worry as much about generalized discrimination, because gender cues are not as important in online communications.
Anyone know of any research out there on this front? I did a very prelim search and didn't find anything...