Transgender activist and former teacher found guilty of triple murder was rejected by U.S. Supreme Court: “In our country, equality before the law and the equal protection of the law include the right to be protected from sex discrimination and that includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity.”
By Elizabeth Weisgarber
On March 20, 2016, I was sitting in one of my classes in the University of Rhode Island when a professor interrupted a lecture to ask, “Is the transgender community really that different from the gay community?”
My answer was, “Yes, they are, and here is why.” As I launched into my argument, I was interrupted by a student in a chair who said, “There are gay people here.” I explained to her that I was not referring to LGBT people as a group, but to the individuals, and that it was just a fact that there were gay people here.
She seemed to understand the point, but when she returned to her seat, she continued, “There are trans people and they are different. They say they want to live as their gender but they are not even allowed to get married or have a family here.”
At that point, a student in an adjoining classroom stood up and said, “My daughter is a trans girl. Where are the trans people?” The comment, even coming from a student, was clearly a trigger for me. At that moment, it became clear that my identity was of no interest to the person who was in a chair. It was not a thought that I was aware of, at the time, or had ever considered. It was not one of questions that I had ever had to answer, or the doubts that had ever been raised. It was a statement that did not fit in my mind, as I looked over to hear why it mattered so much.
The point of my story is not to argue that discrimination against transgender people is morally wrong. I certainly do not believe that it is. I believe that transgender people are human beings just like any other, and I agree with the Supreme Court that they should be protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.