NASPA, first and foremost, reaffirms our support, recognition, and the validity of transgender and gender non-binary members of the higher education community and beyond. We have been monitoring conversations about a recent New York Times report indicating a potential threat to gender identity protections through a significant narrowing of the federal definition of sex. We know that students, faculty, and staff may be feeling vulnerable at this time and will continue to work with our communities to provide support and encourage solidarity in our efforts.
The New York Times reports that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposes to change the definition of sex to an immutable, biologically-based, male/female binary. NASPA has identified in the past, and continues to affirm, the problematic nature of policies that misinterpret or conflate concepts of “sex” and “gender” resulting in the continued marginalization of transgender and gender non-binary communities.
As stated in our official Position on the Protection of Trans Individuals’ Rights, NASPA opposes state and federal policies that restrict the rights of an individual to be treated in any way inconsistent with their gender identity. NASPA also supports reinstating the inclusion of “gender identity” within Title IX guidance, as interpreted through the 2016 Department of Education Dear Colleague Letter, rescinded under the current administration in 2017.
While the number of jurisdictions that currently enforce anti-discrimination policies in support of trans rights is growing, many states, cities, and localities still lack this form of legal protection. NASPA encourages institutions of higher education to continue to uphold values, policies, and practices that protect transgender and gender non-binary people and promote inclusivity overall.
Student affairs professionals often stand at the forefront of providing students with much needed resources during difficult times. NASPA commends and acknowledges that work and the important role of higher education in elevating the rights of transgender and gender non-binary communities.
NASPA will continue to work with our constituent groups to educate, advocate, and uphold the rights of all people, especially those who are minoritized, marginalized, and are denied equitable treatment under discriminatory policies and legislation. As we learn more of the proposed policies, we will engage our members and the higher education community in this important fight for human equity.