Transphobia – An Attack on Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students

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“When trans people can’t access public bathrooms we can’t go to school effectively, go to work effectively, access health-care facilities — it’s about us existing in public space,” she said. “And those who oppose trans people having access to the facilities consistent with how we identify know that all the things they claim don’t actually happen. It’s really about us not existing — about erasing trans people.” – Laverne Cox

My dear queer children,

Now that we have finished this blog’s series on the dating scene and being in a relationship, I want to now turn to something alarming that happened in the news a few weeks back that needs to be brought to your attention. The Trump administration, not unlike previous administrations, has failed to support and create equity for the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people. However, what is particularly alarming is that the administration is making deliberate attempts to erase transgender and gender non-conforming people.

If you’d like to listen to the rest of this week’s blog post, feel free to tune into a podcast I made about this attack on transgender and gender non-conforming students. You can check out my podcast here. If you’d like to continue reading this week’s blog post, continue reading below.

A recently leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services states that it will introduce a legal definition of sex for Title IX. The New York Times states that this definition will define sex as “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with”. While the current administration says that this legal definition we provide uniformity across governmental departments, it is in reality a mask for the bigotry and transphobia that pervades the American system. 1.4 million transgender Americans will lose legal recognition. Currently, transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) people have basically zero rights and protections from discrimination in the form of federal public policy. If this memo is accepted by the Justice Department, these people will also lose legal recognition, and it will make it all the easier for transphobic people to harass and discriminate against transgender and GNC people.

The reason why this impacts LGBTQ+ college students is because Title IX applies to “any educational program or activity that receives federal funding and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex”. Thus, transgender and GNC students in elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities that receive federal funding are impacted by this change made under Title IX. Furthermore, while this legal definition would impact transgender and GNC people the most, it will also affect those who are not heterosexual, because proponents of the Department of Health and Human Services’ memo argue that even homosexual people do not fall under Title IX. The entire LGBTQ+ community would be affected to different degrees.

For example, transgender students’ use of bathrooms and locker rooms that match or most closely match their gender identity would be affected. There is nothing in place to protect these students from transphobic discrimination and harassment in these spaces. Should the legal definition be put in place, transgender people could not even make a legal case that these attacks on them are because of their transgender identity because the definition of sex under Title IX would not even recognize that they exist. Transgender and GNC people will be legally erased if nothing is done to prevent the memo from being accepted by the Justice Department. This will also contribute to institutional transphobic precedents that will make it even harder for future administrations to give transgender and GNC people rights and protections. The Department of Justice is already capitalizing on this transphobic movement by siding against transgender people in cases of discrimination and stating that “sex” has only been grounded in biological sex and only that, even though courts have consistently ruled in favor of transgender people and have interpreted sex more broadly to be more inclusive of gender identity..

Therefore, my LGBTQ+ college students, I am looking to not only inform you of this deliberate attack on transgender and GNC lives, but to implore you to be active and fight back against this attack and future attacks on our community. As much as we are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and are present with our transgender and gender nonconforming members, we also must be intentional and active with our support. We cannot believe that only our words of affirmation and our presence will be enough to help transgender and GNC people. We must support them by protesting against the government and its transphobia. We must make others aware of what is happening so that they can join us in the fight. We must protect transgender and GNC people by standing by them in our schools and defending them against bullies and oppressors. We must support them and their material needs, such as by raising money and sustaining their financial livelihood in a system that prevents them from economic success. In short, we must practice what we preach.

I know this was a difficult topic to discuss, but it’s important because it impacts people in our community who we experience in our daily lives as college students. And should transphobic measures gain momentum, the rest of the LGBTQ+ community could undoubtedly face similar hate and phobia in the near future. We simply must stand and fight together.

That’s it for this blog post! As always, please let me know if you would like my to write on a specific topic. I am always a resource for you.

Until next time,

Love, Your Gay Godparent,

Joe

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