CSU community responds to possible Title IX changes

Julia Trowbridge

Editor’s note: This article briefly discusses gender-based violence experienced at Colorado State University.

The day after the Pride Center’s 20th anniversary, the New York Times unveiled the current administration’s plan to define “transgender’” from existence.

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The Title IX change would create a legal definition of gender. The change would define gender by a person’s genitals at birth and would make gender unchangeable. This would remove protections for transgender, nonbinary, intersex and agender people from gender discrimination.

Despite the potential change, the Pride Center is standing by and will continue to stand by their mission to support Colorado State University students, faculty and staff that identify under the transgender umbrella.

“We like to say, ‘Rams take care of Rams,’ so we have to take care of all Rams, not just some Rams,” said Dora Frias, the director for the Pride Resource Center. “These are folks in our community that we say we care about that’s included in our principles of community. And right now, a very specific community, and there’s lots of communities being targeted and attacked, but this specific policy change would have a big impact on the lives of trans and nonbinary folks, intersex folks… it could have real significant health implications.”

When the proposed Title IX change turned on the news, Fi Graham, a freshman art major, was at first angry and felt invalidated, but now sees this news as an opportunity to get their voice out there and show the world they exist. Graham said this potential change would also hurt cisgendered people because it would enforce the idea that there are only two genders, and further enforce the patriarchy and its negative effects on society.

Resources for Transgender People at the Pride Center:

Gender Identity Group
Transgender and Gender Fluid Support Group
Heathcare providers for Transgender people
WGAC podcast
SDPS counseling
Pride Center Office

“In general, ask people pronouns regardless of presentation because everybody meets trans people and they don’t necessarily know that they’re trans, so that can be an affirming way of moving away from just assuming based on presentation,” Graham said. “One thing that I think is helpful is when people try to approach gender identity through the lens of complexity, because oftentimes when people think about trans people and want to educate themselves about them, they’ll approach it through the idea of ‘Oh, if I get one trans person, I get every trans person,’ and I think everyone’s experience is different.”

Graham said groups that the Pride Center offers, like the Gender Identity Group, really helped them become comfortable with their identity. Graham is currently starting up an activist group in the community called Transgressive, aimed at supporting specifically transgender people in the local community where they need it.

Map of colleges under investigation for sexual assault cases. Tribune News Service 2015

Although Graham feels that they haven’t experienced a lot of gender discrimination at CSU, Axel F, who asked their last name not be published, said they have experienced a lot of discrimination at CSU. With the potential change to Title IX, Axel said it’ll only increase the amount of gender-based violence the transgender community already faces.

“I’m definitely worried about it, but as an agender person, I already don’t exist to the government in the first place,” Axel said. “I think it’s going to be really catastrophic if they remove transgender people from Title IX. But for me, I’m not sure it’ll make a huge difference because I already experience housing discrimination, job discrimination, violence on the daily from cispeople and from this government and everything, so it’s like, ‘What’s one more log on the fire?’”

Axel said when they came out their sophomore year, they experienced a lot of gender-based violence like being followed home, having things thrown at them and once being outed by a teacher in a CSU classroom as an educational tool without their permission.

Despite this, Axel said the Pride Center has been an instrumental resource that has allowed them to feel less lonely and build community at CSU.

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“I think, (at) CSU as a whole, trans people are an afterthought,” Axel said. “The Pride Center does really good work. The WGAC are great allies. I think the cultural centers are doing really good work to try to uplift trans people. But, in pretty much every other setting that I’ve been in at CSU, it’s an afterthought for the sake of being inclusive or being diverse.”

They deserve to be able to learn in a safe environment, they deserve to be seen as their whole selves, they deserve all of the things every other student deserves. We want to just give voice to that.” – Miel McCarthy, a researcher with SPDS, retention coordinator

Student Diversity Programs and Services is currently doing research to understand how to support transgender, nonbinary, intersex and agender students at CSU. The research team has hosted focus groups for transgender students to find what the students need to feel supported at CSU if any changes need to be made.

Miel McCarthy, one of the researchers on the team, said that these focus groups are important for gathering statistical data that the transgender community lacks. 

“I think that people deserve to have an opportunity to come to CSU, or go to any institution for that matter, and be treated with the same respect as any other student,” McCarthy said. “They deserve to be able to learn in a safe environment, they deserve to be seen as their whole selves, they deserve all of the things every other student deserves. We want to just give voice to that.”

Although the timing of the focus groups is aligning with this potential Title IX change, the two aren’t connected, McCarthy said.

Dwight Burke, the Title IX coordinator and director of support and safety assessment, wrote that CSU is currently and will continue to support transgender, nonbinary, intersex and agender students, faculty and staff. Burke also does not want to speculate about a law that hasn’t passed and isn’t defined, because it’s in a stage that’s too early to respond.

“CSU is following the current Title IX conversation related to potential changes affecting trans, non-binary, intersex and agender students and employees,” Burke wrote in an email. “There is no current legislation to respond to that requires a change in gender definition, so it is speculative to discuss what how that legislation would be written … We are committed to supporting all members of our community, regardless of their gender identity, and will continue to monitor this and other important issues, discussion and legislation that may impact Title IX.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.