At my school, graduate students can get almost a free ride if they have a graduate assistantship. (That’s because we have an awesome union – GEO, UAW local 2232 - http://people.umass.edu/geo/.)
Trouble is, it’s not easy to find these mythical assistantships.
One time, when the tuition bills were coming due and I still didn’t have an assistantship, I went to the graduate financial aid office to ask what my other funding options might be, if I couldn’t get an assistantship. I went in looking pretty ratty, too, because I had just gotten out of work and was all paint-stained. I thought about going home to shower and change first, but the office is only open until five, and I got off work at 4:30, and besides it never hurts to look a little bedraggled when you’re asking for financial assistance.
At first the people at the front desk hassled me for a few minutes about how anyone should be able to find an assistantship, especially with work study funding, and basically why wasn't I looking harder. Then their supervisor came out, looked me up and down and said, "Have you tried the EveryWoman’s Center or the Stonewall Center?"
I did not say, "Am I wearing a fucking sign?"
I did not say, “I'm here about my financial aid, not my sexual orientation."
I did not say, "Hey, maybe that's why I can't find a fcking assitantship!"
I just left.
Shows what they know, because those two Centers are broke, too, and haven't hired any grad assistants in years.
All's well now, because I graduated and got a job. Stay tuned for more recent stories about job searching as a queer tranny.