Following a bold move from the White House that threatened to change current definitions of gender, the University has responded with stronger protection and resources for its LGBTQ+ students. The support did not go unnoticed.
Last month, after learning that the Trump administration was considering a redefinition of gender under Title IX that would effectively roll back a number of legal protections for transgender individuals, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi, and University of Wisconsin Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, wrote a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, advocating for the continued protection of transgender individuals.
In a letter to the LGBTQ+ student body, Judy Jarvis, director of the LGBT Center, pledged that there will be “no changes to Princeton’s trans-inclusive healthcare, non-discrimination policies and support.”
“Not long at all after the statement came out, there were a lot of little support systems just to quickly reassure people. An email, some posters, and conversations alone helped us all to remember what we’re still fighting for: just being able to live our lives,” LGBTIQA peer educator Nico Cooper ’21 said.
Some students think that the University still has more to do to protect trans students.
A trans graduate student, who requested anonymity, told The Daily Princetonian that while it was great that Eisgruber sent the letter, it was discouraging that only a few schools signed it.
“The administration could and should do more to stand by its trans students,” the graduate student said. “They should make it easier for trans students facing hostile family situations to gain financial independence.”
The student added that the University should mandate training for professors to teach them how to interact with trans students in a respectful and affirming way.
“These things really are not asking a lot, but they would make a huge difference for the trans students on campus,” they said.
“While I don’t identify as a member of the trans community and cannot speak for the experiences of trans students, I think that despite Eisgruber’s support of trans students at the federal level, [the University] still needs to examine the realities of the disparities on its own campus to ensure an equitable experience for trans students and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, especially regarding financial aid and stability for students facing abusive situations related to their identity at home,” Amanda Eisenhour ’21 said.
The LGBT Center has added programs designed to support the trans and gender non-conforming community on campus. These recent efforts include the creation of a working group to direct the University’s response if the proposed policies are enacted. Additionally, the Center is offering students one-on-one meetings with directors Jarvis and Eric Anglero. It also plans on revamping the student Gender Group to discuss concerns of trans and gender non-conforming students in light of the news. The Center has held a lunch event for trans and gender non-conforming students and hosted a staff training series with special focus on the experiences of trans students.
Scooter Liapin ’20, a co-president of Princeton Pride Alliance, said that the Center’s trans-oriented programs are focused on “remembering trans activists who are no longer with us as well as celebrating trans activists who are doing amazing work in the community.”
On Nov. 14, the Center will host a Transgender Day of Remembrance, beginning at 7 p.m. with a keynote speech by transgender activist and founder of Familia: TQLM, Jennicet Gutiérrez. The following day, Gutiérrez will host a workshop to discuss building support for the trans and queer immigrant communities.
Liapin noted that it is important to remember that trans activists are responsible for much of the progress made within the larger LGBTQ+ movement in recent years. When addressing deceased LGBTQ+ activists, including those trans activists that will be remembered and celebrated on Nov. 14, the phrase of choice is “rest in power.”