‘You can’t get rid of us’: Students speak out about Trump gender memo

Melody Carey, Photo by Bonnie Cash

When junior Melody Carey came to Chapman, her roommates did not feel comfortable living with her in a dorm room because she was transgender, she said. Carey said she had to go from door to door to find new roommates, outing herself as transgender to each person to prevent that from happening again.

The Trump administration wants to legally redefine gender as strictly biological and determined by genitalia at birth, in an effort to federally invalidate transgender and genderqueer community, according to the New York Times.

“We exist, you can’t get rid of us,” said Emma Barda, a sophomore news and documentary major, who identifies as trans.

Emma Barda, Photo courtesy of Emma Barda

The Department of Health and Human Services proposed the new definition of sex would be defined as either male or female, “unchangeable” and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a memo from the department that was reviewed by The New York Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified through genetic testing.

“It’s just so detrimental to the community as a whole, and it’s detrimental to the view of the community from other people,” Carey said. “The only good thing coming out of it is that we’re coming together.”

Carey organized the Oct. 31 transgender rights and LGBT solidarity walkout on campus because fellow Queer Student Alliance (QSA) members wanted to speak out and protest against the memo.

“It’s taking away rights, civil rights and liberties that we all deserve as humans and categorizing people based off of things when we shouldn’t be categorizing people. We should be looking at humans and human rights, not transgender rights, not women’s rights, it should be everybody has rights,” Carey said.

Avery Roberts, a junior vocal performance major who identifies as trans, said she feels “troubled” and “saddened,” but not surprised by Trump’s decision.

Avery Roberts, Photo courtesy of Avery Roberts

“I hate taking steps backward,” Roberts said. “Every step forward is so hard-fought that it feels like we just got this recognition, we just had people accept us on a national stage for the first time.”

Conservatives believe sex and gender should be one and the same, which shows their lack of understanding of the trans community, Roberts said. The hatred against minorities comes from fear and this anger in their own lives that is transferred over to people who are vulnerable because of people like Alex Jones and President Donald Trump, she said.

“It’s this idea that it’s OK to talk down and literally physically attack other people in order to make yourself higher,” Roberts said. It’s not a zero-sum game, though. We can have our rights, you can have your rights, we can all get along.”

Barda traditionally dresses more feminine, they said, but when the memo came out, Barda considered cutting back on the more feminine dressing a bit, afraid of the hate they might receive.

“If (this) gets passed, I’m not afraid of what the law specifically says it will do, but how other people will interpret this law existing and use this law to enable their own personal transphobia, and that’s the real problem,” Barda said. “If we have a president that says it’s OK, that means people will believe this is acceptable when it is not.”

Roberts said she wishes to live her life as a trans person and not be questioned, verbally attacked or physically attacked for that.

“It just baffles me beyond anything that there’s so much vitriol over the fact that I exist,” Roberts said. “I want to make music. I want to live. I want to write. I want to be (viewed as) a normal person because I am a normal person.”

The best thing students can do, as allies, is vote Nov. 6, Carey said.