This morning the newspapers carried yet another ominous headline: the Trump administration has rescinded protections for transgender students. I am not the right person to weigh in on the legal issues here, and in any case there are plenty of thoughtful people doing so already. I do want to say that as president of a residential university, withdrawing protections from people who are vulnerable to discrimination and abuse is a failure of moral obligation, and of imagination. It is shameful and hurtful.
At Wesleyan, we will continue to ensure that our transgender students receive all the protections necessary to secure their equal participation in the life of the university.
Last summer, I sat next to transgender activist, writer and alumna Jennifer Boylan ’80 at a talk by then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Ms. Lynch underscored the importance of the civil rights issues at stake in regard to the federal government’s work with transgender Americans. Addressing the transgender community directly, she emphasized “we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
It just so happens that Ms. Boylan and Alexander Chee ‘89 will be speaking at Wesleyan next week. On Friday, March 3 at the Smith Reading Room at Olin Library, they will be reading from their recent work and discussing queer politics on campus and beyond.
Let’s make the same commitment to any vulnerable members of our community that Attorney General Lynch made to transgender people: We see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.