Saturn X want to be their true self, but it comes at a high price

Saturn was one of the students who participated in the March occupation of the Student Center in support of the SSTOP Hunger Campaign. 

For many out of state students, college would be near unaffordable without family support and financial aid.

But for students like Saturn X, a sophomore gender nonbinary student, familial support and extensive financial aid aren’t available because they’re trying to be their true selves.

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While it might seem that being gay or non-binary has no financial effect on college, Saturn, who hails from a Chicago suburb and goes by the pronouns they/them, faced struggles related to sexuality before even stepping on campus.

As Saturn prepared for the ACT, the stress of the test and the stress of not being out to their parents added up.

“The night before the ACT, I was really scared and stressed out,” Saturn said. “I felt like they should know. I was crying on the couch and I told them I think I’m gay.

“My dad just paused and my mom just paused too. My mom was cool with it but my dad was very much pissed off.”

Because of Saturn’s sexuality, their dad refused to provide financial support. With parents unwilling and unable to help financially, Saturn was denied the student loans they applied for.

Facing non-acceptance at home, Saturn came to UK hoping that they could express a more honest version of themself. But with the current high cost of college, Saturn might not be able to do that.

In the fall of 2018, Saturn was housing insecure. Saturn now lives in a dorm working as a peer adviser for LEXengage, a university program designed to increase awareness and understanding of issues related to civic engagement and global citizenship.

For a marginalized student like Saturn, the cost of college is starting to outweigh the benefits.

Every morning when Saturn steps outside their dorm room, they start looking over their shoulder. As a racial, gender and sexual minority, Saturn said they face discrimination through micro-aggressions, such as mis-gendering and dead name usage.

“I am back into a world where I have to watch my surroundings,” Saturn said of leaving their dorm.

Saturn, a gender and women’s study major with a minor in African American studies, feels more comfortable in their classes.

“I feel like I’m back in a safer environment,” they said.

When Saturn isn’t in class they are usually in the Office of LGBTQ* Resources in the Gatton Student Center. Programs like the LGBTQ* office help provide a more complete product for the campus’ students. These programs help students like Saturn, who have had to hide their identity in the past, to finally live their true self.

“Sometimes in the office, I’ll just throw on some heels and walk around to have fun,” Saturn said. “The LGBTQ* office is somewhere people can hang out and relax and be themselves.”