BREAKING: On February 10, just two days after Jeff Sessions was sworn in as Attorney General, the Department of Justice took a first step toward dropping their defense of the transgender student guidance in court. While the guidance is still in place, this is a major signal that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is likely planning to stop defending the guidance entirely and may try to reverse the guidance. It is more important than ever to take action now to stop this from happening.
– National Center for Transgender Equality
A federal judge in Texas has ordered the Department of Education to temporarily stop investigating complaints related to trans students’ restroom and locker room access. Within two days of starting his job, Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the support of the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, have started to backtrack from defending the guidance in court, indicating that the federal government may stop defending against the lawsuit entirely. Technically speaking, the other parts of the guidance, not dealing with restrooms or locker rooms, are still in effect and the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights can still investigate complaints relating to those other types of discrimination. Right now, you can still complain directly to them (see link 1, below).
During the Presidential transition, Vice President Pence and others associated with the Trump administration have said that they plan on reversing that guidance. As of now, that has not happened--but as noted above, Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos are indicating they might no longer defend that guidance in court. The National Center for Transgender Equality is fighting to make sure that the new administration doesn’t take away this guidance. Even if the new administration does roll back the guidance, that can’t change the Title IX law itself—and it doesn’t change those federal court opinions that say the law protects trans students.
There’s great uncertainty right now about what trans students’ rights are at school. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what happens in the new administration or with the Supreme Court, many schools will still be willing to support trans students. In many places, there are state laws or other protections in place to rely on, even if the federal protections are eroded. These links will help you access key documents below:
Please consider passing this along to colleagues, list serves, friends and family, and if you are teaching, ask your peers and students to write letters in support of transgender youth.
On behalf of the youth you are about to help, we all thank you. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Please, please, pass on.!
sj Miller, Ph.D.
“And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's going on?”
-4 Non Blondes
“What’s Up?” In 1992, The 4 Non Blondes sang these lyrics “what’s going on” which were once (and still) prophetic but now, timely. Drawing from this song, I am reminded that our country has always been at war just in different ways and about different topics. So, why is “now” any different than then? As we say at Passover—slight turn of phrase- “Why is this election different than any other?” Well, here’s why.
Many people including myself, are struggling with sleep, reacting more hastily and with agitation than ordinarily. My anxiety is at an all-time high, my mind is racing 129 miles an hour. My head is spinning around like the head spinning doll in The Exorcist. I have become possessed by the government and my gaze is completely hijacked by the demagogue in DC. Lest I turn off the news, I fear that something else is going to happen and I want to, er, need to know, as much as I can— or, that is actually being shared with us—so I/we can take immediate action. The problem is, where to start? The Trump Plan is to uber-overwhelm the general population into protest fatigue, and wear ourselves so thin, that we will be divided, rather than united in our struggle for equity and equality. When a population is stunned into stratification, it ceases to dismantle the interlocking infrastructures that incarcerate and surveil. I find myself in a constant state of saying, “What now?” “Is this for real?” “Uhm, what’s going on?” but, my wish is to say, “YOU’RE FIRED!”
Taking up this litany of questions, we can find ourselves renewed by each other’s commitment to reclaim our country as we put foot to pavement, soil, dirt, trail, leaves, cobblestones, water, etc., and move ourselves into individual and collective actions. Looking at the massive protests spawned as a result of the feckless brush of a strangled pen, held by an impetuous man-child who lacks dexterity, our country and its allies around the world are not taking these executive orders lightly. We are finding common ground in spaces and on issues that many had not considered, or who had yet to stand up or in for. Now, people are coming out of the woodwork like termites, ready to use the natural materials and gifts of our earth to co-create universal sanctuaried-spaces and rebuild fissured and gutted infrastructures in the image they want it to be, need it to be. We are swarming like bees, and will make honey along the way. We will fight for our refugees, for our Muslim kin, LGBT folk, and any persecuted group now or in the not-so-distant future. We will leave the government to ask, “What’s going on?”
So, what do we do?
I leave you with these lyrics as you continue to build, protest, demonstrate, and sing:
“And I pray, oh my god do I pray
I pray every single day
For a revolution.”
In the struggle with you,