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Last night, the Undergraduate Council passed a fine resolution urging the University to expand its non-discrimination clause to include transgendered individuals. Without passing judgment on the ethics of individuals who identify themselves as a sex different from that which they were born, and without providing an intellectual discourse on the social construction of gender (to whatever degree that exists), we feel that it is proper for Harvard to recognize the equal rights of the transgendered within the context of University policy.
The current University policy does not account for the transgendered in its protection against sex and sexual-orientation discrimination. This is because the term transgender reflects a self which is a product of an individual's conception--not one based on chromosomal make-up (sex) or one forged against the opposite sex (sexual orientation).
If the University recognizes the value of diversity and does not discriminate in terms of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status or disability unrelated to job or course requirements, then adding the category of gender identity to this protective umbrella serves the ends of Harvard as presently conceived. It is not so much because members of the aforementioned categories of persons are discriminated against that the University seeks to protect them. Rather, it is the possibility of such discrimination that prompts Harvard to take the pro-active non-discrimination policy, which is designed to head off problems by providing intra-University methods of redress.
The enlargement of this system to be responsive to the needs of students who--for whatever reason--feel compelled to identify themselves differently from their born sex seems to us only a good step. Nothing harmful can come of extending the privileges of the establishment to the disenfranchised. We find the concerns of those who worry about the undermining of gender identities outside the domain of the issue at hand. What we are endorsing is the protection of an even greater number of individuals within the context of University policy, which is designed to further individuals as individuals.
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