FAT HEAD: Left-Handed and Left Behind: A Marginalized Student’s Story


Disclaimer: this is not news. This is part of the Fat Head, a Flat Hat senior tradition in which the outgoing editors dunk on themselves, the College, and the student culture here. Again, this is not news. If you treat it as such, that’s on you. Any resemblance to characters, real or fictional, is purposeful and malevolent. We warned you.

As a queer woman of color at a predominantly white institution, I’ve experienced microaggressions and marginalization beyond modern imagination. But no identity has pushed me so far to the margins, relegated me so far back into the hidden corners of society, as my self-identification as a left-handed student on this campus.

My name has been mispronounced repeatedly in classes over the past four years, and I’ve heard fellow students throw around “that’s so gay” like it’s their first name. But I’ve never felt more acute pain than when I walked into my class in Tucker Theater, armed with my notebook and pencil, to find not a single left-handed desk inside. The humiliation of setting my things down onto a heinous right-handed desk and hunching over it sideways for the simple comfort of being able to take notes was unbearable. Worse, still, was the embarrassment of bumping elbows with a right-handed student next to me that I had no intention of interacting with for the duration of the semester: all while I attempted to write the date in the top right corner of my loose leaf.

Every time I play Wii with my friends, they look on with disdain as I tearfully change my Wii Sports preferences to my left hand. At Campus Golf this year, I felt the cruel gaze of every student on the Sunken Gardens as I shakily stepped up to putt with my left-handed golf club. And don’t even get me started on when my right-handed peers stepped up to putt “with their opposite hand” as some kind of twisted joke, only to perform better than I had when I used my left hand. Is there no decency?

Students on this campus have things to say about me. They say I have a god complex because I’m left-handed. They say I think being left-handed makes me better than everyone else. And they’d be right. But that won’t stop me from being overly assertive about my opinions anyway.

People make assumptions about me as a result of my race, gender, and sexuality. But the assumptions they make about me purely because of the orientation of the hand with which I choose to hold my utensils is truly inexcusable.

Fellow William and Mary students, whom I had even grown to consider my moderate acquaintance, have felt bold enough to say to my face: “I figured you were a left-handed person. You give off that vibe.”

Some have even taken the liberties to inform me that my lifestyle is “embarrassing” and even “humiliating.” And one particularly mouthy student informed me that they were okay with me being left-handed, as long as I wasn’t “in their face about it.” The fact that I have to suppress my natural inclinations, my lifestyle of choice, simply to accommodate fellow students’ learning preferences is abhorrent to me.

What would I like the William and Mary administration to do about this? Absolutely nothing. If they replaced all of the right-handed desks at this school with left-handed ones, I would find a way to complain about that, too, because I’ve grown used to writing on right-handed desks. I develop an intimate relationship with the gum-stained wood as I lean on top of it to take notes, and I can’t deny getting a thrill when I bump elbows with my unsuspecting neighbor. But, I’ll make a fuss about this anyway, likely in a 280-character format that will allow me to go viral on W&M Twitter without making any significant progress on anything whatsoever. Because it doesn’t matter if things change, as long as I get another pinned tweet.

So before you sneer at a fellow left-handed peer just trying to eke out a meager living on this hostile campus, stop it. Get some help. Consider what I’m going through. And don’t forget to retweet my list of stats about left-handed individuals that I have not bothered to cite or fact-check. If I go viral, you’re doing a struggling community a huge favor.


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