USG calls on administration to reaffirm support for transgender Tulanians

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Last night, the Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution which called on President Mike Fitts to reaffirm Tulane’s support for transgender members of the community.

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its plans to more narrowly define gender as biological and unchangeable — a federal proposition that some students say will directly put the rights and identities of transgender Tulanians at risk.

Chief Justice Peter Kintner, Senator Eva Dils and Gender and Sexuality Affairs Council Chair Kennon Stewart put together a resolution immediately after the news was released. The legislation outlines the consequences of such a bill being passed.

“This definition will be an act of political and legal erasure and systemic violence against intersex Tulane community members whose sex would be publicly discounted and relegated as nonexistent,” the resolution reads.

Stewart said trans and nonbinary erasure could jeopardize the rights of the entire queer community and called on the Tulane community to recognize and act on it.

“As long as they’re in power, the Trump administration will continue making it easier and easier for institutions to infringe upon the rights of humans with minoritized identities,” Dils said. “So it’s on us to resist … We cannot rest until we’re sure that the rights of our siblings aren’t going anywhere. Today that looks like this resolution, but tomorrow it might look like a rally, or a sit-in, or casting your vote at the polls. We need to be there for it all.”

The legislation was sponsored by USG President Erin Blake alongside other members of the Executive Board, Executive Cabinet and Senators. The Senate passed the resolution at its meeting last night.

“There are trans people at all five colleges of Tulane,” Gender Exploration Society president Lydia Bell said. “We are students here, and it is important that we are as protected as any other student.”

The resolution calls on President Fitts to not only reaffirm Tulane’s support for transgender members of the community but also to uphold inclusivity measures already in place and continue work on anti-discrimination policy.

Several specific requests are outlined in the resolution. Some include calling upon the Division of Student Affairs and Human Resources to publish a map of where all-gender restrooms are and calling upon the Tulane Office of Title IX to recommit to recognizing students by their own gender identity. The legislation also urges the Office of the University Registrar to recommit to recognize all students by the gender and name they identify for themselves.

“[Tulane USG urges] the entire Tulane community to stand in allyship with the transgender community at Tulane and across the country to protect the basic rights of recognition and equitable access in the eyes of the United States government,” the legislation states.

This would not be the first time that USG has made efforts to foster inclusivity on Tulane’s campus. On April 5, 2016, the Senate passed a resolution for the expansion of all-gender restrooms and on Nov. 26, 2016 passed a resolution for active personal pronoun usage.

If the federal actions are taken, the Department of of Health and Human Services will define sex as either male or female as determined by a person’s genitals at birth. The definition would deny the 1.4 million transgender Americans protection from harassment and discrimination under Title IX.

Before the legislation was brought to Senate, more than 150 members of the Tulane Community signed in support. The resolution is continuing to be signed by students, faculty and staff before it is set to be sent to President Fitts’ office Thursday morning.

The Registrar’s Office has indicated it is in full support of the resolution. The President’s Office has thanked USG and has said it is eager to read the full text.