Yanna Awtrey, 21, is a former college student at Welch College, a Free Will Baptist Institution located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She was on her way to junior year but due to personal decisions that violated the school’s handbook, the college suspended her for two semesters and barred her from entering the dorms.
Awtrey has since kept her gender identity hidden while in school until a year ago after a roommate read her diary and revealed her secret to the school officials. Since then, she claimed to have been put under strict rules that prohibited her from telling anyone that she is transgender or bisexual in order to stay in the institution.
However, on August 2 she underwent breast reduction surgery and promptly received a notice thereafter from the college’s vice president Jon Forlines about her status as a student. Forlines forbid her to return to the campus because of her choice to become a man, which in the handbook, falls as a form of “sexual immorality” and “sexual perversion.”
Awtrey told NBC News that Forlines offered her food money and hotel stay while she look for new accommodations. She claimed that the college tried to have her sign a withdrawal form, which she refused to sign.
Awtrey also contested during the scheduled disciplinary hearing on Aug. 7 that she didn’t violate the handbook and the Bible since she didn’t commit any sexual act. However, Forlines clarified that sexual perversion isn’t “just a matter of sexual act.”
Meanwhile, Welch College President Matt Pinson iterated the college’s stand on human sexuality in a statement. He said that God created two sexes; female and male, and any form of behavior that rejects the “divine design for human sexuality” is a violation of the college’s community standards.
Pinson added that students who are experiencing gender confusion should be treated with “love and compassion” but clarified that an attempt to “alter one’s bodily identity constitutes a rejection of God’s design for humanity.”
Awtrey contested that “gender and sexuality are intrinsically linked,” but they don’t necessarily mean the same. She claimed that the handbook didn’t have anything for being transgender and added that it was “a long stretch” for the college to put her in that category.
Despite her rebuttals, Awtry remains under two-year suspension. She can re-enroll thereafter but would have to make an appeal to the disciplinary committee to be reinstated, which she declined to do.