If enacted, these policies will sharply restrict transgender people’s rights in Virginia. While the immediate target of the policy is K-12 students, its effects would come to bear on the University’s transgender students, professors, staff and community workers.
According to a recent Washington Post article, the policy’s guidelines state that “trans students must access school facilities and activities, including restrooms and sports teams, that match their sex assigned at birth.” Moreover, the guidelines make it difficult for students to change their names and pronouns at school and allow teachers to refuse to use transgender students’ names and pronouns. In an even greater violation of the students’ gender identities, the guidelines suggest parents should be told about students’ gender identities, even if this disregards the students’ wishes.
While we all ascribe to different ethical and belief systems, many of us agree that our greatest human responsibility is to strive to reduce suffering in our world. This responsibility does not end with ourselves and our families and social circles — it extends to all. Our first step toward alleviating suffering is to extend compassion to all suffering, including that of people who look, speak, and worship in a different way from ours. We need to challenge ourselves to empathize and understand, to the best of our ability, the suffering of others, even if we can’t relate to a specific pain.
These policies are attacking trans people throughout the country. We don’t have to be trans to understand the alienation that comes from being prohibited from being who you are. Therefore, I want to see our trans friends free to transition according to their needs and be made welcome in the world as their true selves.
If you feel the way that I do, I urge you to go to the Governor's online comment town hall by Oct. 26 and stand up for trans youth — stand up for human rights.
Cora Schenberg is assistant professor of German at U.Va. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.