Question to a Speaker

| Aug 3, 2020
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Sophie at the Nittany Lion Shrine

As the Chinese curse says–we live in interesting times.  Dangerous times for out transgender people, especially transgender women.  Here at Penn State, speakers regularly come to discuss a plethora of topics.  On August 11, we have Dr. Chatters speaking live (via Zoom). The following quotes the email sent by the University:

“Are You Prepared? Real Talk About Race and Identity in the Classroom

This webinar will provide educators at all levels (K-12 and higher ed) with tools and techniques they can use to engage in effective conversations with their students about identity and race…

Dr. Seria Chatters is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Counselor Education in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education in the College of Education at Penn State and the Director of Equity and Inclusivity for the State College Area School District. Her research focuses on how different aspects of diversity, such as ethnicity, race, disability, LGBT, religion, poverty and veteran status, impact experiences of bullying, cyberbullying and interpersonal violence. Dr. Chatters is also a licensed professional counselor and a licensed mental health counselor.”

Usually, when we have a speaker, questions should be submitted in writing and in advance, as they tend to be involved, complex questions. Makes sense.  So, what follows is the question I submitted. It’s involved, but not really complex. 

In the past 3 years, the current administration has passed/declared through executive order over 90 anti- transgender actions, including stating that transgender people nationally:

1. May be denied health care lawfully.
2. May be denied housing in shelters lawfully.
3. May NOT serve in the military.
4. Are no longer to be considered as their “true” gender, only their birth gender, essentially legislating us out of existence in the U.S.
Transgender women, especially transgender women of color, are being murdered at a record pace. In most states, including Pennsylvania, transgender people may legally be denied all of the above, including employment, and life itself (trans-panic defense.)

Last October, Penn State allowed a campus group, “Turning Point”, to host two extremely anti-transgender speakers, Sargon of Akkad and Hunter Avallone, and barred transgender people holding tickets from entry (me.) They also continue to employ a professor, Christopher Reed, who purposely mis-gendered transgender and non-binary students. They even awarded him the “Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts and Humanities at Penn State” in 2019.

This is spite of great strides made by the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

—-> With all that in mind, how “safe’ can a transgender or non-binary student be at PSU? What steps can faculty, staff, and students take to make higher education, specifically at PSU a safe haven for those students?

I signed off with my name, field of study, student number, blah blah.  

So, was that too direct? Not direct enough?  

If my question is chosen, I’ll try to post the answer here best I can.

Until then, keep safe and be well.

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Category: Transgender Opinion

Sophie Lynne

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  1. NereidOfDoom NereidOfDoom says:

    I am thinking “out loud” that it could go either way. If she has observed what you have on campus, especially with BIPOC, she could: stand for the students and speak out, minimize the issue at large, circle the wagons and defend her colleague. Does the professor have a history/reputation for intersectional injustices? Sorry, those came to mind.

    I sense optimism that if she picks, and maybe distills, your very appropriate and well-balanced question, she will have something to say in calling out the injustices and actions you spelled out.

    Love you!