Transgender rights should not be erased

By Lisa Lillianstrom

The Trump administration has announced on Oct. 22 that they are looking to rollback an Obama administration decision and define gender as a biological immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, and this announcement is cause for alarm among students.

This plan is only a proposal currently, but if approved then Title IX, which is a federal civil rights law that bans sex discrimination in federally funded schools, would not apply to transgender individuals. Every identity matters, and what is going on right now with the administration is a good reason to get mad, but it’s also a good opportunity to educate people on what it’s like to be transgender and how to help.

“I am not surprised, but I am still angry, and I still want to show this is important,” sophomore psychology major Ruti Greenfield said. “It is also going to affect people who aren’t even transgender because just the idea of not being able to change your birth gender or birth sex on your birth certificate and being allowed to be discriminated against because of your sexuality, it really affects a lot of people.”

It is important to speak out because it is important for the transgender community to know that they have a voice. If they aren’t happy with what is going on then, they need to let others know that they are not happy with the decision that was made by this administration.

The NIU Gender and Sexuality Resource Center hosted an event “Show Up For Trans Lives” which took place at noon on Oct. 29 at the MLK Commons. Tim Kirsininkas, an attendee at the event who graduated in December 2017 with a major in communication said, he felt it was important to come out and show his support.

“There have been so many things happening lately with the oppression of transgender people,” Kirsininkas. “It is really important that cisgender people like myself just show up and support the transgender voices in our community.”

NIU is a very diverse campus, and some students are potentially going to have their gender be considered invalid by the government. This possibility is very alarming.

Regardless of what someone may identify as, they matter. This country is the land of the free so that should mean free to be themselves, free to live their own lives the way they want to, and they deserve to feel safe no matter where they go and what they are doing.

With this legislation, the government is saying it is ok to discriminate against trans people in their workplace, housing, medical facilities, and, schools. The civil rights laws that protect cisgender people will not apply to transgender people.

“I am thankful to be on a campus where students can use their voices to educate and connect with other people,” Molly Holmes director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center said: “I was concerned with how students were feeling and reacting to the news [and] I am definitely supportive of events like this where students can use their voice to find connections and hopefully see other support from their peers and faculty on campus.”

When proposals like the one President Trump has in mind get brought up, it is cause for concern, but there are spaces on campus for students to cope and talk about their experience.

Some of the safe spaces students can go to include the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center located at the Arndt House. Students can also go to the support group Transitions where they can gather and celebrate the intersections of gender in each others lives. Prism, an organization which provides opportunities for LGBTQ+ students and their allies to come together to share common interests in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere, also provides a community for students to seek comfort.

“If you are transgender and you are mourning this, and if you need to time heal do that, there are so many safe spaces on campus,” said Greenfield  “You won’t feel loneliness or isolation because you will have a community. If you are cisgender, use your time and money and donate to organizations that are helping us, come to rallies like these and show your support.”

Even though some people may not know what it is like to be transgender, support can still be shown because that person can be a friend, sibling, a favorite professor, a relative or maybe even someone’s future child, no matter who it may be it is important to listen to what they have to say.

“It is important that they know that we are here to support them; it is hard to understand the struggle that they face, but as long as we show up and listen to what they have to say then we can better understand, and we can all be more tolerant and accepting of one another” Kirsininkas said.