Opinions

From the community | We stand against transphobia, and so should you

April 7, 2022, 8:04 p.m.

This article was written by the Terra staff for the 2021-2022 academic year. Terra is one of the largest co-ops, tucked in Cowell Cluster (right behind Vaden) and it’s the unofficial LGBTQIA+ theme dorm. This means that we center and prioritize the needs of queer and trans folk on this campus, and globally. Terra values the loving community that has emerged from centering QT folk but is simultaneously aware of the ways Stanford and co-op communities exacerbate exclusion on the basis of race, class and ability. We’re committing to centering Black and Indigenous QT folk, disabled QT folk, undocumented QT folk and other historically marginalized members of our communities. Queer and trans liberation cannot happen without overturning systems of white supremacy, settler colonialism and capitalism. As a result, we have a zero-tolerance policy against any form of discrimination, including homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, ableism, classism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and more. We will also not tolerate any form of assault, abuse or violence. Our community is our home, and we want all of our residents to feel safe.

“The issue is not with trans people. It’s with policies that allow men to enter spaces designed to keep women safe. And it’s with the people who take advantage of those policies to harass, intimidate, assault and terrorize women in such places.” — Lucy Kross Wallace

On March 31, 2022, the International Trans Day of Visibility, The Stanford Daily published the article From the community | I stand with J.K. Rowling, and so should you filled with transphobic sentiments and bad-faith arguments about the experiences of J.K. Rowling to further the author’s harmful transphobic beliefs. As the student staff of Terra, Stanford’s only queer-trans themed dorm, we found it necessary to respond immediately. 

This article is nothing short of the pure rot of the American culture war which has regurgitated the same points since 2014 and presents them as revelatory truth; the author probably does not care for either issue except to grift from the outrageous claims she has consistently published for the past two years. The term “outrage politics” encapsulates this best: the author hides behind terms such as “free speech,” “tolerance” and “liberal-democratic values.” If this was about standing with women, she would discuss single mothers across the country who struggle to feed their children, trans girls who are abused and ostracized by their families and the domestic labor that women are expected to do without compensation. Yet, she would rather “stand” with an elite celebrity who hides in her vampire castle and writes snarky articles about the downtrodden of our world. We say downtrodden because it is known that trans folk are ostracized and consistently subjected to abuse by both civil society and the state. 

All over America, trans people are at risk of violence and death. They may often need to enter precarious situations due to the lack of support they receive from traditional institutions such as family, legal institutions and school. Even at Stanford, an oasis from the worst that trans folk encounter, TGNC (transgender and gender nonconforming) students are universally at the highest risk of violence. The results of the 2019 AAU survey conducted by Stanford show that 30% of TGNC undergrads have experienced unwanted sexual contact by their fourth year, and 55% have experienced harassment. 

It is laughable to say that J.K. Rowling “represents” women: she has more in common with the rich men who sell out our country and make life unbearable for women. But the delusion of the culture war obscures the obvious under abstract terms and knee-jerk arguments. 

The populist right want to believe they are for the common people, as the author posits herself as an ally to women. Yet, she utilizes women as fodder to protect a multi-millionaire, just as the populist right protect any politician, celebrity or whomever else they believe to be “oppressed” by a mob. It is delusional, and insulting to any cause that is truly “for the people.” 

At Stanford, we often repeat the adage ‘assume intent, acknowledge impact’ as we navigate issues that impact vulnerable community members. However, the Rowling article is filled with transphobic sentiments obscured by “rationality.” As we began with the article, the author states how “the issue is not with trans people. It’s with policies that allow men to enter spaces designed to keep women safe. And it’s with the people who take advantage of those policies to harass, intimidate, assault and terrorize women in such places.” This is an intentional jab at calling trans women “men,” which is a tired joke that sounds more like a middle school sneer than the remarks of a reputable adult. We cannot assume that you had any good intentions towards trans people. It is very clear that we cannot change your mind or educate you further on gender expansiveness, but we still felt moved to write this statement as part of the queer community. There is no place for transphobia at Stanford, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that. 

The Rowling article calls for empathy for Ms. Rowling amidst the doxxing and death threats she is receiving. Terra staff do not condone any form of violence: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or digital. Ms. Rowling does not deserve to fear for her life, no matter how vile her positions are. We believe that harassment towards Ms. Rowling is wrong and should be criticized. However, we must ask you; why do you have empathy in abundance for Ms. Rowling, a wealthy, white, cis celebrity who has used her platform to endanger vulnerable people — yet such little empathy for your trans classmates and community members?

Ms. Rowling wrote about her own experiences as a survivor in further defense of the vile and harmful beliefs she has. Again, it is awful that these things have happened to her, but it gives her no right to be malicious towards our trans community members. Why do we prioritize her needs and her trauma over the experiences of trans survivors, trans elderly, trans youth and trans children? Trans people are globally at the most risk for gender-based violence and share similar traumatic experiences.

Finally, we as Terra staff are incredibly disappointed in the author, the Opinions editors and The Stanford Daily at large for publishing such a transphobic, ignorant article on the same day as International Trans Day of Visibility. As Stanford University has a very high population of LGBT community members, it felt like a slap in the face to an integral, yet vulnerable part of the Stanford community. The Stanford Daily is read far beyond Stanford, from Bay Area residents to powerful alumni to prospective students. Statements like this do not reflect us at all. As the author writes, the rest of us do have a choice. 

The right one, however, will never be rooted in transphobia. 

Signed,

Terra Staff 2021-2022

Munira Alimire, External RA-C (2021-2022), Kitchen Manager (2019-2020), ASSU President (2020), ASSU 21st Undergraduate Senate Chair (2019-2020)

Lois Wi, Queer Health Associate (2021-2022)

Elias Aceves, Community Manager (2021-2022), Queer Health Associate (2022-2023), Stanford YDSA Co-Chair (2021-2022)

Noor Fakih, House Manager (2021-2022), Kitchen Manager (2019-2020), Member of Abolish Greek Stanford. 

Phillip Ipock, Financial Manager (2021-2022), Community Manager (2022-2023).

Megan Hall, Kitchen Manager (2021-2022)

Jacky Lin, Kitchen Manager (2021-2022)

Callum Tresnan, Terra RA (2022-2023)

This article has been updated to change the headline from “In support of Rick Riordan” to “We stand against transphobia and so should you” at the request of the authors.

The Daily is committed to publishing a diversity of op-eds and letters to the editor. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Email letters to the editor to eic ‘at’ stanforddaily.com and op-ed submissions to opinions ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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