Rescinding of Title IX protections for trans people creates fear of marginalization

Meyer Grunberg/Contributing Writer

Transgender students want a level playing field; the rescinding of their protection under Title IX threatens that.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights refers to Title IX as an education amendment that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal assistance.

For many, when this law states that there will be no discernment based on sex, this simply refers to the binary definition of sex as just male and female. Yet, there is a gray area in between for the percentage of the population whose gender identity does not match their sex and who are thus unprotected by Title IX.

On May 13, 2016 the Department of Justice and the Department of Education under President Obama sought to include transgender students under that amendment and expand the law to include prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status.

However, on Feb. 22, 2017, Donald Trump’s administration rescinded this interpretation of the law to its original form that does not specify gender identity as a means of protection under the ruling.

“ … [This] means people who are marginalized will now be marginalized again,” said Gisela Vega, associate director of the LGBTQA Initiatives at the University.

She said that while the change of directive from Washington might lead to further discrimination based on gender for students on campus, all students would continue to benefit from the institutional support of the University.  

“In FIU in 2015, we included into our non-discrimination clause gender identity and gender expression, which covers trans people … we’ve been very progressive in terms of trying to make sure that our trans population feels safe and protected,” she said.

In addition to the University policy which safeguards from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, there are various student-led groups like Stonewall Pride Alliance, Delta Lambda Phi, and Safe Zone Training that aim to offer the support students may need.

“People feel a lot more unsafe when you have things like this turned into a political issue and it becomes to clear that your lives are politicized…,” said president of Stonewall Pride Alliance, Tim Vargo. “[On campus] it wasn’t as scary, this was primarily a scary thing for our youth [in high schools].”

Vargo said he would like to see an increase of involvement from transgender students at the University. The lack of involvement might be due to a lack in knowledge of the groups available, insecurity in ‘coming out’ or due to simple time conflicts, Vargo says.

He believes that much progress has been made, as seen by the gender neutral bathrooms on campus, but there is still much work to be done.

“The main thing is making sure that bathrooms aren’t gendered at all … non-discrimination laws are always a start,” said Vargo. “[Our goal is] making sure people can use the bathroom of their choice [and] ensuring protective laws to make sure nobody is being assaulted.”


Photo retrieved from Creative Commons

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