By Bethaney Lee
Gender fluidity became widely discussed at City College after Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Development Samuel Santos issued an email on Feb. 23 pertaining to the Trump Administration announcing the repeal for protection of transgender students.
Federal guidelines upheld by the Obama Administration recommended the equal treatment of transgender students was protected against sex discrimination under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments.
Aside from the precedent set by Obama, the Trump Administration issued new guidelines in late February of this year allowing states to individually decide whether or not to allow sex discrimination within their campuses.
“Regarding Trump’s policy, I have personally had to step back from being so politically up-to-date in order to focus and be present for the work I do in the community,” non-gender conforming student Micaela Scofield said.
Santos explained within a “Dear Colleague Letter” issued by the Obama Administration that public schools are directed to “allow students under Title IX interpretations to use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity.”
He added: “All Trump did was say, forget that letter, each state can decide how they want to enforce and implement Title IX.”
States like California and cities like San Francisco may not see much change in their public school, but in states that tend to be predominantly Republican, the repeal of Title IX protections for trans students is paramount.
“It is frightening,” Gender Diversity Project Coordinator Andrew Ciscel said. “And it is so consequential to students.”
Ciscel advocates for trans students and said “City College is actually behind the curve in terms of the preferred name being part of the system,” bringing awareness to a problem that existed within our campus long before the changes to Title IX.
He added: “There are community colleges in Southern California and in Oregon who already operate under a system using preferred name. Meaning when you are in your WEB4 or when the roll sheet is printed out from your instructor, you can have your preferred name versus your birth name read aloud,” effectively outing the student in front of their peers.
Members from the Gender Diversity Project have made finding a solution for this problem a top priority.
“It is a binary system in society,” Ciscel said. “In our world when there are not people who fall into this one, two binary society- we need to find ways to respectfully include them and clearly we have not.”
The college tried to further embrace its trans students offering gender neutral restroom facilities, transphobia classes and transgender health classes.
“As a queer person and person who at different times in my life has felt fluid in my gender, I learned so much about ways to support people, the culture and the language through taking the transgender health class on campus,” Ciscel said
Though there is still progress to be made Santos said, “what new Title IX guidelines means for us hear at City College is minimal, but symbolically when these articles come out and these changes happen what that does to students and employees who identify as transgender is sends a message that they aren’t supported by the federal government.”
Santos added: “I want to let trans students know that we do a number of things to make students feel welcomed into our college community.”
Sex discrimination at the college is still prohibited by state and local law.
“The goal is to eventually get to a place where I can have a healthy balance of both, but for now it is too triggering,” Scofield said.