A Christian college in Oregon has denied claims that it refused to provide on-campus accommodation for a trans student, but said he would not be allowed to live in dorms without having gender reassignment surgery.

George Fox University said on its website that the student, Jayce Marcus, was “instead offered a single on-campus apartment or off-campus housing”.

However, it says that it did not offer Marcus a place in the male dorms as “it is consistent with our beliefs and our community values that a presurgical transgendered person will be provided on-campus housing in appropriate alternative housing well-connected to the residential community”.

This policy is legal due to the college being granted a religious exemption to discrimination laws, which it said it sought “to preserve its right to draw on its religious convictions to handle situations related to students experiencing gender identity issues”.

Paul Southwick, Jayce Marcus’ lawyer, told Inside Higher Ed: “If George Fox University is drawing the line at gender reassignment surgery, that is not the line drawn by state and federal law. Gender identity protections do not extend only to those individuals who can afford, or who are ready, for gender reassignment surgery.”

He also mentioned the point that most transgender people do not undergo surgery.

George Fox University claims that in most US states, a citizen has to provide a record of gender reassignment surgery in order for them to change their legal status, and that “In the State of Oregon, applicants must provide documents showing that they 1. have undergone sex-reassignment surgery (“SRS”), or 2. are a transsexual undergoing gender reassignment therapy with a qualified therapist and are living full time as the desired gender as part of gender reassignment therapy.”

However the Oregon State Legislature website states that a court can legally change a person’s gender if “the individual has undergone surgical, hormonal or other treatment appropriate for that individual for the purpose of gender transition and that sexual reassignment has been completed”.

The college also defended its treatment of Marcus, writing that, “On many occasions, the student expressed to Student Life staff that he has felt safe, listened to, supported and cared for at George Fox – by students, faculty and Student Life staff. He has acknowledged that this is why he has chosen to remain at the university.”