I really hesitated about going back into politics in my column, as I’m not usually one to impose my political beliefs on others. But I had some major problems with what went on during elections, particularly with the issues surrounding ROTC.
I did, to a degree, feel trapped during elections, trapped between both sides of the debate concerning Measure A, the advisory vote on ROTC. Although I did appreciate the Campaign to Abstain’s attempts to best represent transgender rights, I felt that their voice was not my voice — and yet, on the basis that I am a transgender person, people both within and outside of the queer community assumed that I was for the Campaign to Abstain. I personally did not support this campaign. I think that there should have been a strong movement that sought a “no” vote. And what I found problematic was that it was assumed what my position was. I did, to a degree, feel tokenized. I felt that because of the fact that I was a minority within a minority, my identity was exploited in order to accomplish political goals. But I didn’t feel comfortable enough to quite say anything, because I didn’t want to risk dividing the queer community. I felt conflicted between my community and my own individual opinions. These conflicting feelings stripped me of my agency, and I felt trapped and ostracized from the very community that, ironically, did what it did in order to protect my rights. And as much as I appreciate my queer siblings, I did not feel like I had a voice within that movement. I didn’t feel like I was allowed to have a voice. Perhaps this is a sign that the queer community does need to work on how it treats its own minorities. Dear Stanford queer community, I love you to death, but I was hurt by what happened, and I think I need some time to myself before I can be part of you again.
I also felt trapped by the many debates that occurred surrounding ROTC. There is a difference between having a respectful discussion about an issue and throwing around borderline hate speech. Saying that transgender people “don’t matter as much as other people” demeans me as a human. I felt personally hurt by a lot of debates that raged both within and outside of my dorm about ROTC. In the end, the debates that occurred were less about ROTC and more about transgender people, and if transgender people were important enough to matter just on a human level, on whether a minority is worth protecting. One of the points I heard was, “Well, there aren’t many transgender people on campus, so they don’t really matter anyway in the grand scheme of things.”
And to this I respond — at this point, I don’t think transgender issues are a point for debate. Arguing about whether I’m a valid Stanford student or a valid human being is not a point of debate, either. At this point, this is an opportunity for education — to present the profound idea that hey, maybe we do matter, and that maybe we are worth protecting, whether we are a minority of one, 10, or 100. Going all “high school debate tournament” on these issues is just insensitive and disrespectful, and I felt that this aspect of my identity was exploited for the debating pleasure of my peers.
The whole deal surrounding elections and ROTC, I admit, upset me. I felt exploited, taken advantage of. I did not feel comfortable about people throwing around the merit of my humanity and whether or not I mattered within the Stanford community. And I’ll be honest — I think I do matter. And yet from the dinner table and dorm room discussions that stemmed from the ROTC advisory vote, Stanford students made me feel otherwise. In my four years here, I didn’t think I would have to defend not only my rights as a Stanford student, but my rights as human being. To have my own residents and fellow classmates tell me that I don’t matter — that hurt and made me feel unsafe in the very places I call home.
To tell you the truth? I wish Measure A was never on the ballot. I wish the ASSU Senate, in their discussions earlier this year, decided that this issue was not something to be voted on by the student body. The debates that stemmed from Measure A caused me as well as several of my transgender peers a lot of emotional distress and personal damage. Causing a minority emotional turmoil for the sake of politics is not okay. And Stanford, I don’t think that should happen again.
Have something to say about Measure A? Email Cristopher Bautista at [email protected].