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CSU hosts panel on transgender policy

Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Brianna Titone discusses what she is doing to help the trans community at the transgender panel Oct. 25. “It’s not the sound of my voice that matters, it’s the words that come out of it,” Titone said as she explained her tough decision of whether to work on voice therapy or run for office.

A panel on transgender policy in the U.S. was held on Wednesday, Oct. 25, as part of Colorado State University’s Symposium for Inclusive Excellence this year. Wednesday’s panel was a collaboration between the Pride Resource Center and the university’s Office for Inclusive Excellence.

The panel featured journalist and activist Erin Reed, the author of the Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map, and Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone, the first transgender individual elected to the Colorado state legislature. The discussion was moderated by PRC Director Maggie Hendrickson.


Also slated to speak at the event was Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first transgender legislator elected in Montana. Zephyr was unable to attend due to getting sick before the event. 

The panel focused on legislation around the country pertaining to transgender individuals, the restrictions being imposed in certain states and the protections being passed in others. They also discussed trans joy as an act of resistance in the face of growing hate and their own experiences as prominent transgender individuals. 

The speakers began with a brief overview of some of the current anti-trans legislation in states across the country.

“In just the last year, we saw 550 bills targeting the LGBTQ community in a large variety of ways,” Reed said. “They ban our past, our present, our future.” 

Reed continued by showing her Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map, which color-codes the country by state. Dark red states have the worst active anti-trans laws, and dark blue states have the most protective trans laws. 


Courtesy of Erin Reed

“An example would be Kansas, where they passed the bill that defines sex as binary and defines it as your assigned sex at birth,” Reed said. “They are currently going back to all of the trans people’s birth certificates right now, and they’re changing them back. It doesn’t matter if you moved out of Kansas and you’re living somewhere else; it’s dangerous, and this is what we’re seeing.”


On the opposite end of the spectrum are the states with protections, such as Colorado. Reed highlighted a bill in Colorado that was signed into law this year that legally protects people coming to Colorado from other states to access reproductive healthcare, including gender-affirming care. 


“I want to say that we’re not seeing a universal movement against trans people,” Reed said. “We are seeing a divergence where some states are saying, ‘We will respect you and take care of you,’ and others are making it to where we cannot exist in those borders safely.”

The panelists also discussed how legislation targeting transgender people ties into our democracy.

“When we take away people’s rights, that’s not democracy, and that’s what we’re seeing with all these bills taking away people’s rights,” Titone said. “It’s taking them to second-class citizenship, it’s taking away healthcare, it’s taking away their ability to be themselves. That is the antithesis of democracy. Democracy is inclusion. Democracy is you all having a right to vote.”

The importance of joy in fighting back against anti-trans legislation around the country was also highlighted in the discussion.

“Joy is what gives us the strength to fight; joy is what we run on,” Reed said. “Joy is how we know that it’s worth getting up there and fighting. If we didn’t have joy, we would have given up a long time ago. We would have given up in the 30s, we would have given up in the 50s, we would have given up during the gay marriage fights. It is because of the joy that the community collectively experiences that we are still standing, and I think that’s important.” 

As part of CSU’s Symposium for Inclusive Excellence, the panel served as both an educational opportunity for the community and a reminder of people’s power within democracy.

“A lot of students can get overwhelmed, and I think people in general can get overwhelmed because of the targeted hate on the LGBT community,” Assistant Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Ria Vigil said. “But this, to me, was a really great reminder that we can do things. We can get involved; we can make a difference if we start today and we look at where we are and the influence that we can have from our own positionality.”

Reach Hannah Parcells at or on Twitter @HannahParcells.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Parcells, News Editor
Hannah Parcells is currently the news editor at The Collegian, a role that she loves dearly. Parcells uses she/her pronouns and began writing for The Collegian in fall 2023 as a reporter under the news, science, opinion and life and culture desks.  Parcells is currently pursuing two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a concentration in global politics. Parcells has always been passionate about understanding and helping other people and hopes to use her education to try and leave the world a little better than she found it.  Raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Parcells grew up with a love of learning, music and writing. She’s always working to learn more about the world through history and art and loves being introduced to new places, people and ideas.  On the off chance that she’s not buried in textbooks, research papers and policy analyses, Hannah can be found on a hike, watching movies or at any local bookstore or coffee shop, feeding her ongoing addictions to both caffeine and good books. Parcells is incredibly proud of the work she’s done at The Collegian so far and is excited to continue that work as an editor of the news desk.

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