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Transgender student kicked out of Christian college after ‘top surgery’

Yanna Awtrey. (Photo Provided/WKRN)

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — A transgender student woke up from a body-altering surgery to find he had been kicked out of college.

Student Yanna Awtrey said Welch College claims sexual perversion and immorality are against the rules.

“When I was 11, I started experiencing these very severe forms of gender dysphoria on the physical side,” Awtrey said. “It didn’t let me interact with other people because I didn’t want people to see me on how I was.”

Awtrey said he’s always wanted to change his physical appearance from a female to a male, but as a daughter of Christian missionaries and a student at Welch College in Gallatin, he said it would be a leap of his own faith.

“Even at the time, when I didn’t know the word ‘transgender’,” Awtrey said. “It’s obvious that people don’t want you to go outside those norms, especially in Christian societies.”

Ahead of his junior year, Awtrey decided to have his breast tissue removed in what’s known as “top surgery,” but when he woke up, more than his physical appearance had changed.

“I received an email from my college that said I was not to be allowed back in my dorm,” he said.

The email from the vice president of student services said the college had found out about the procedure and Awtrey would not be allowed back on campus.

“They kicked me out,” Awtrey said. “In their handbook, I believe they did not have any terminology that covered being transgender or covered just transgender-related surgeries, and so they listed me under their college handbook which cited sexual perversion and sexual immorality. I believe that was a really big stretch to put me under, but they put me under that definition because they wanted me out as soon as possible.”

Under the Title IX civil rights law, private colleges have a religious exemption allowing them to discriminate based on sex.

“I want a Christian education, they’re just saying that I don’t deserve a Christian education, that I don’t deserve an education that teaches me about the bible or housing or just the everyday necessities that people need,” Awtrey expressed, “Which, in turn, says that I am subhuman, that I am a second class citizen, in this country that is praised for its liberty and its freedom, and its equality for all.”

Welch provided Awtrey with a hotel and food expenses for a week.

He is headed to North Carolina to stay with other family friends until he recovers. He then plans to return to Tennessee and get a job.


“Welch’s community standards hold that students are to obey God’s revealed will in Holy Scripture and avoid behaviors that constitute a rejection of the divine design for human sexuality.”

Mike Pinson, president, Welch College