Trans lives threatened

The Obama Administration helped the transgender community make strides in the way of civil rights, but a leaked memo shows that the Trump administration may be reversing some of the progress that was made.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, the New York Times leaked a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services that would narrowly define gender as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” The definition would retract protections given to the transgender community under the Obama administration, such as with Title IX, reaching to federal protections in education, employment and health care access.

According to NBC News, “if the memo were to become a policy, protections and federal recognition for the approximately 1.4 million people in America who recognize themselves as a gender other than what they were assigned at birth would be eliminated.” The projected impacts of the legal redefinition of gender would extend to and beyond the Guilford and Greensboro communities.

In a statement responding to the memo, LGBTQIA+ Coordinator of the Bayard Rustin Center Meagan McNeely expressed her disappointment.

“The Bayard Rustin Center for LGBTQIA+ Activism, Education and Reconciliation believes and acts on the premise that trans lives are beloved, valued, sacred, appreciated and needed,” McNeely said. “We must resist every form of evil that threatens the rights, safety, belonging or basic access to the resources trans people need. Over the next several days, do what you need to do to take care of yourselves and your communities.”

Many individuals are taking to various social media platforms in order to rally together under the hashtag #WontBeErased.

“Make no mistake, trans people are under direct attack from the Trump administration— but we #WontBeErased. We’re here. You can’t define us out of existence,” stated the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Weaver Academy student Damon Kennedy expressed similar sentiments.

“Pretending trans people don’t exist will only make us stronger,” Kennedy said. “Just like with HB2, I know the trans community will come together and set things right again.”

McNeely set aside a safe space in the BRC located in King 128E on Tuesday, Oct. 23 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for those hurting from the recent news of “transgender” potentially being defined out of existence. In addition, McNeely hosted open office hours from Wednesday, Oct. 24 to Friday, Oct. 26 for community members wishing additional support in private.

“Trans people fight very hard and we deserve a break,” said Tyler Baldwin, a student at Western Guilford High School.

Although many community members are worried about what the memo could mean for them if gender is legally redefined, some are doubtful that any change will take place.

“Trump’s a lot of talk,” said Early College student Connor Thonen-Fleck. “He’s said a lot of things, like the military ban, that only functioned to be an inflammatory heading to get people talking. Nothing even came of it. Based on that, I’m really not worried. The timing with elections seems to be the main motivation for this.”

Some individuals attribute the purpose of the memo to a need for attention from the media and public.

“(The memo) is to incite his base,” said Professor of Political Science Ken Gilmore.

Regardless of the legal outcomes that may follow, Guilford will continue to support its transgender and gender nonconforming students.

In an email to community members, Guilford’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office stated that “Guilford College is and remains committed to providing a safe and non discriminatory environment to all students, staff and faculty.”

The BRC, Intercultural Engagement Center, Counseling Center and Friends Center remind students of resources available to those seeking support during this time.