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Against the Attempts of Transgender Erasure

By Melanie Y. Fu
By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.

Harvard Medical School released a statement on Nov. 1 condemning the Trump administration’s plans to rescind federal recognition of transgender, intersex, and gender non-binary individuals. In doing so, HMS cited its professional duty as an organization of healthcare providers to condemn the federal change as overly simplistic in its understanding of sex.

We applaud the Medical School’s statement, as it seeks to defend trans, intersex, and nonbinary people across the country from discrimination, and we applaud the school for its use of school-specific expertise to do that work. Harvard’s engagement with this issue must go beyond this statement, however, and the rest of Harvard — on both the College- and University-wide levels — must continue to stand up for the rights of community members affected by Trump’s attempt to limit our understanding of gender.

The Medical School’s statement is the appropriate response to the administration’s policy proposal. It addresses the issue by providing evidence and opinions from medical experts, as opposed to a general political pronouncement. However, we believe that a response from the University would be helpful as well. In the current political climate, the Trump administration frequently makes political proposals that threaten our campus communities.

Although the University should be judicious in addressing political issues, it should speak out about policies that could pose a danger to members of the Harvard community. The University should state unequivocally Harvard’s intention to commit itself to protecting those the proposal puts at risk.

In this instance, Harvard should release a statement assuring non-binary, transgender, and intersex members of the Harvard community, from undergraduates and graduate students to faculty and staff, that the University will continue to recognize and validate their identities, ensuring protection against attempts to erase them.

Harvard should acknowledge that this proposal affects members of the community. The University has a responsibility to affirm threatened identities when possible. In making a public statement, Harvard can use its hefty influence to lead the way in standing up for its students and affirming non-binary, transgender, and intersex identities on a national level.

Additionally, Harvard ought to provide systems of support for non-binary students struggling through the ramifications of this proposal. Finally, in light of the failings of our presidential administration, we applaud Massachusetts for leading the way and approving ballot question 3, which reaffirmed the rights of transgender individuals across the state. As the federal government fails to protect the rights of vulnerable citizens, Massachusetts residents should take solace in the state’s proactive and protective stance.

This staff editorial is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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