News :: Local

Transgender Man Disputes With Pa. College, FBI Investigates Bomb Threats

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Apr 20, 2012
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Seamus Johnston, a transgender man who was expelled from the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown earlier this year for going against the college’s transgender policy, has filed a complaint against the school, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The university’s transgender policy states that individuals must use the school’s restrooms and locker rooms based on the gender that is listed on their birth certificate. But Johnston, 22, is accusing the college of discrimination.

Johnston’s battle with the university has been publicized, which led the FBI to question Johnston and his partner, Katherine Anne McCloskey, 56, a transgender woman, about bomb threats that were made to the university. After agents interviewed the couple they were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury.

Johnston and McCloskey both say they were not involved and do not know anything about the three-dozen bomb threats made to the school.

Johnston’s discrimination complaint against the school was filed with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations and claims that the school went against the city code on discrimination on the bases of sex and handicap.

"One, I’m hoping the Human Relations Commission will be able to put enough pressure on the university that they stop this ridiculous policy and that every other trans person going to Pitt is treated decently," he said. "And the second [reason], which I suppose is less likely to happen, is I hope the pressure is enough to get them to drop the criminal charges against me."

Johnston was born a female but identifies as a male and was declared fully disabled by the Social Security in May "for a variety of emotional liabilities that included gender identity disorder," the complaint says. Local authorities arrested Johnston in November for repeatedly using the school’s men’s locker rooms after he was not allowed to use the facility. The college then offered Johnston a private locker room, which he used for a while, but then told the school he would once again use the men’s locker rooms.

Johnston wants to "seek reinstatement from Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, the next step in the process," the article says. Johnston, however, is awaiting trail on three misdemeanor charges: indecent exposure, defiant trespass and disorderly conduct.

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