On the breezy afternoon of Oct. 31, colorful pride flags for the LGBTQIA+ community decorated the steps to Leatherby Libraries, capturing the attention of passersby. Around 50 students gathered in the Attallah Piazza to protest in support of transgender rights and stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community a little over a week after the Trump administration announced it would consider defining gender as a biological condition determined by genitalia at birth.
If this legal definition is altered, it would eliminate federal recognition of the 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender.
Starting at around noon, Chapman students took turns sharing their experiences with discovering their identities and advocating for the equality of people in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Junior Melody Carey, who identifies as transgender, spoke to the audience about how she came out to her other female roommates during her freshman year at Chapman.
The response she received involved an intervention with the students’ Resident Advisor after Carey’s roommates claimed they were uncomfortable with her, Carey said. She then had to move into new housing.
“Housing has been a lot easier now since once you’re able to house with people you know – you know who’s going to be accepting,” Carey, a mathematics and computer science double major, told The Panther. “The school has sex- and gender-inclusive housing … I would suggest anybody who has any worries to use that.”
Carey also described how in a meeting with Dean of Students Jerry Price, he mentioned taking steps to add gender-inclusive bathrooms in new buildings on campus.
“It’s amazing … that (the Chapman community) is cognizant about these issues and that they train faculty members in sensitivity, create safe spaces on campus, have the cross-cultural center, have an awareness month for LGBTQ members, allow clubs (like) the Queer Student Alliance (and) they’re open to free speech,” Carey said. “It’s incredibly important they’re taking steps in the right direction and they’re open to listening to feedback.”
One speaker at the event, Ally Evans, a junior creative writing major, spoke to the audience about the discrimination that the LGBTQIA+ community has had to face.
“How many of you guys knew that the press secretary says Trump agrees businesses should be allowed to hang signs saying they won’t serve us?” Evans asked the crowd. “That the Trump and Pence administration refused to sign a statement that would show support for equal marriage and trans rights? That the Department of Justice said that the civil rights laws of 1964 do not apply to LGBTQ people and then rescinded discrimination protections for transgender people?”
Some speakers urged students to vote in the Nov. 6 midterm elections to elect people who will support the LGBTQIA+ community.
“The biggest thing we can ask for is for people to try,” Carey said toward the end of the rally. “That applies not just to transgender individuals, (but also to) lesbian, gay, bisexual queer, intersex, … Going to events like these and showing your support is also very important as an ally. And the biggest thing about being an ally is vote Nov. 6.”