Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Confessions of a trans woman

Stanford University isn’t the haven I thought it would be when I first set foot on campus.

Across the country, I see my sisters fighting and winning against a system not made for us. I see the tireless work by trans communities like TAJA’s Coalition, see history made by transgender activists even as the cisgender community breathes silence. I see grief and mourning, celebration and victory. I see every day the desperate vivacity with which my community survives.

And I wonder what I’m doing here.

A poll by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation included a small statistic on transgender people: eight percent of Americans know or work with a transgender person. There was no further elucidation on that number, but I have no doubt that the percentage who know a transgender woman is smaller. I have no doubt that the percentage who know a transgender woman of color is smaller than that.

I comment on the intersections of these identities not to isolate myself as a trans woman of color, but to identify society’s – and Stanford’s – blindness to the particular injustices we face: trans women of color are disproportionately murderedharassed and discriminated against on all levels of society. But even more concerning than this narrative of trauma is that trans women often find themselves with little else to talk about. What does it mean if whenever I hear the phrase “trans woman of color,” I brace for the words, “suicide,” “murder” or “incarceration” following it? In an editorial in Out & About Nashville, James Grady puts it bluntly: for trans people to make the news, we must “get famous, get caught in the ‘wrong’ restroom, get put in the wrong jail cell, or get murdered.” Few of us actually get famous.

At Stanford, things aren’t much different. Speaking about the probing stares I receive in bathrooms, misgendering I receive from institutions and transmisogynistic and cis-normative language in classrooms, at my residence and in community spaces has become my calling card on campus, my marker of trans identity. In every space, my presence seems justification enough for a constant barrage of questions about issues on campus, endless interrogation on trans politics, a request for the full syllabus of transgender 101 at any given moment. The mere act of existing as trans at Stanford is exhausting.

And when I defended in an article published earlier this year the benefits of being able to take a break, of safe spaces, a commenter casually suggested that I simply go home instead. And they have a point: there is no discrimination in my room, no harassment when no one else is there, no slurs or ugly laughter. I am safe in my room.

I am humiliated knowing that my room is the only safe space I am allowed.

To escape my own narrative of discrimination, fear and prejudice, I need Stanford University to be a place where I can thrive. Barring that, a place where I can at least survive. Earlier this year, I called on cisgender people to take responsibility in their own communities. Title IX, which protects transgender students in schools from discrimination, is clearly not enough – how many lawsuits would be appropriate to rectify the situation at Stanford?

I offer the following recommendations for Stanford University and its students, staff and faculty as the beginning steps to create a safer campus.

1)      Mandatory training for residential staff, faculty and other university employees on not only LGBT, queer and trans issues, but also on best practices to reduce discrimination in classrooms and to increase feelings of safety on campus for transgender or gender-nonconforming students.

2)      Clearly visible and accessible gender-neutral bathrooms in every major student, staff and faculty building, in order to make facilities more inclusive for transgender and gender-expansive individuals.

3)      Inclusion of academic literature, research and critical study of transgender topics, especially in courses, programs and departments concerning gender, LGBTQ+ identities, health and medicine.

4)      A standard, campus-wide policy guaranteeing gender-neutral housing for students on campus in all residences.

It is absolutely unacceptable for Stanford University to be named “Most LGBT-Friendly College” in the U.S. and fail on the part of its administration, organizations and communities to support its trans students. As an out and visible trans woman of color at Stanford, I refuse to be a fleeting memory for students to smile at in thirty years, a token trans person on campus. Stanford: it is your responsibility to do more than care about a theoretical community. It is long past due for concrete action to replace ineffective sentiment.

Contact Lily Zheng at lilyz8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Lily Zheng

Lily Zheng '17, is a weekly columnist for The Stanford Daily, a Social Psychology major and co-president of the student group Kardinal Kink. Her weekly column revolves around consent culture, queer and trans identity, social justice and activism. In her spare time, she enjoys wearing too much black clothing, accidentally sleeping in her makeup and spending quality time with her partners. Contact her at lilyz8 'at' stanford.edu – she loves messages!
  • Amboy School, California

    Excellent Lily! Shame on Stanford for continuing to be a higher education venue of ill repute!!!! One would think that intellect would be revealed much more than innately and would indeed be found in practice at Stanford. I don’t have a college degree and never will but do I admire those who pursue one particularly at Stanford. If anyone should be facing the headwinds of change, it should be institutes of “higher” learning.

    I challenge Stanford to read and heed what Lily has recommended. I hope to hear back from Lily with an update on whether Stanford has truly reached maturity, or not.

  • Sinny

    Stop the self-pity and self-victimization. You’re examples of discrimination in this article are flimsy, and you are given a platform more often than anyone in the Daily to share your views .

  • Lily Zheng

    Trust me, if all I had to do was stop victimizing myself, I would have done so a long time ago.

    Maybe if people like you got the memo, this column wouldn’t have been necessary.

  • sinny

    I don’t need a memo because I have never discriminated against you or and trans person. You complain about people expecting you to explain the world of trans (trans 101) to them but you position yourself as an expert on these matters with your weekly narcissistic pontifications in the Daily. It’s become your “calling card” because you have chosen to immerse yourself in it. All you can come up with is “probing stares” and “misgendering”. Stop providing this mush about “cisnormative” culture when male and female are the norm. Just because a normal common form exists doesn’t necessitate the existence of discrimination of the abnormal and less common states.

  • Berk

    Me no agree with you’re comment. Go fix you’re 1) grammar 2) attitude.

  • Reader

    If you, yourself, are not a trans person of color, then you have never experienced this discrimination, and you have no idea what this experience is like. If you do happen to be a trans person of color, know that not all experiences are the same, and delegitimizing someone’s pain is not so different from disqualifying them as a human being. Your comments are not new.

  • sinny

    I’m a trans person but of a “different color” than Lily. I’m not sure what “person of color” means exactly or why that would amplify discrimination at Stanford. Sure, she may have been made uncomfortable but the “probing stares” that I also get, but I think it is damaging to exaggerate the discrimination we undergo at Stanford which bends over backwards to be tolerant, and to ask everyone else to spend time and money on trans training, trans bathrooms, trans courses when we make up under 0.1% of the population.

  • StanfordStudent

    Question: I believe gender (if it exists at all) is a complete societal construct based off generalizations and stereotypes. As a result, I don’t see how it’s possible to identify as the other “gender” but only as the other sex. Yet it’s never phrased this way, and there are people who choose not to transition not due to financial difficulty etc. but simply choose not to. I haven’t read any convincing argument that it isn’t this way, namely that gender doesn’t really exist as some abstract concept – I’ve seen you post on your articles in a comment before. Help (explain being transgender)? I’d never ask this in real life because it’s offensive, etc. but to me gender is like the soul: some people claim it exists, some don’t, neither can prove they’re correct but the no-it-doesn’t side has a lead.

  • sandman

    “A standard, campus-wide policy guaranteeing gender-neutral housing for students on campus in all residences.”
    Can you clarify what you mean by this? From my knowledge all housing in Stanford is gender-neutral except Greek houses and Roth.

  • More-information
  • Lily Zheng

    what’s it called if everywhere my math professor went, people asked them to explain multivariable calculus? Over and over, in bathrooms, in bars, in clubs, over snacks in the living room, while watching TV — is that the responsibility they’ve taken by positioning themselves as an expert?

    You call me narcissistic. Is that what self-love looks like to you? Is my mention of transgender identity as something that isn’t inherently shameful threatening to you?

    Am I supposed to sit quiet as my sisters are murdered on the streets, rot away in prisons, and are erased from history literally and figuratively? Tell me: what is it that I should do that I am not doing?

    And why aren’t you, then, doing it?

  • guest

    Genuine question; is there anything wrong with asking your perspective on trans* politics, or to explain certain concepts of what it means to identify as trans? If someone asks me to explain something about my culture/identity to them (often because I’m also an LGBTQ+ POC), I see it as them being genuinely curious and wanting to be educated more, so that they can deepen their understanding and better act as more tolerant and respectful toward that group. You’re an outspoken trans* activist on campus (which is awesome!) but is it morally wrong for people to ask you about the thing you so openly speak about? Better than them intentionally staying ignorant, no?

  • Lily Zheng

    I think it’s important to respect capacity, and to understand that while I am happy to educate (I enjoy it, really), there is a limit to my ability to educate everyone, all the time. Usually when people ask for my perspective, it’s done without first considering the reality that everyone asks me the same questions all the time. Add this to the fact that at this point most of my opinions are online, or that most of the information is easily google-able, and the end result is that the overwhelming majority of the questions I get asked are redundant. I get really disheartened when I’m exhausted and tell an individual to look up their question online, only to be told that I’m an ineffective educator because I wouldn’t take my own time to privately educate them.

    Even professors have office hours, y’know?

  • sinny

    You’re just too popular and important to devote your time to answer questions in regards to this area. However, you are arrogant enough to write weekly columns espousing your views, criticizing others who do not feel that transsexualism is normal even though they do not discriminate against those who identify as such, and make expansive and costly demands to satisfy your desire to have every campus building install extra bathrooms for you, force everyone to take classes reinforcing your views, and undergo training to make your views (and your views specifically) feel “safe”.

  • guest

    Oh ok I gotcha! Yeah, I’d imagine that constantly being bombarded with questions would get irritating after a while. Thanks for responding, you keep doing you :p

  • Lily Zheng

    1) Calling an op-eds columnist “arrogant” for expressing opinions seems amusing

    2) Who said being trans was normal? Trans people are different. We have different needs. Stanford University aims to meet the needs of its students. I am expressing to Stanford that my needs are not being met.

    3) It’s my policy to take people seriously when they tell you they are being discriminated against. It is not my place to tell people whose experiences I do not fully understand whether or not they are feeling discriminated. What I *can* say, however, is what I have been through.

    And I have been discriminated against.

    Whether or not you want to listen to me is up to you. But trying to claim that I am “criticizing others…even though they do not discriminate” against me is ridiculous. Have you been in my classrooms? How about my frosh dorm? How about during my appointments in Vaden?

    Please tell me: what makes you think you know about my discrimination better than I do?

  • Latina, Trans, AF Veteran

    Oh if it only were self-victimization I would have no choice but to agree with you. Trans persons are extremely victimized, and there is no “self” there.

    Case in point

    After graduation from high school, I enlisted in the US Air Force, served honorably doing my secret-clearance part even as a teen in keeping America’s arsenal safe and in friendly hands.

    After hire with Victor Valley Community Hospital in 2010, and only days after coming out as trans, I was fired. Coincidence? I had never been fired before. Firing someone for who they are despite overwhelming job skills, especially someone who put her life on the table for her nation if necessary requires no “self” victimization any more than depriving someone of their personal belongings does.

    Wait, that’s not the worst part. I tried and tried to solicit legal assistance and I received but words of solice:

    “Oh, we’re so sorry that happened to you”.

    Compensation? zero. Damage to self-esteem? Tremendous. How so? Five years of unemployment to show for it. Can’t you just put it behind you and move on? I’ve tried but failed. Why is that? Well, when life teaches you a lesson that skills matter nothing but transgender matters everything, the opportunity costs to self and nation are immeasurable.

    Victimization? Let’s talk,and you listen.

  • Latina, Trans, AF Veteran

    Please wise up and realize that your “normal” defies credibility.

    Normal defined:

    No Real Meaning At alL

  • advocato

    i actually think that sinny has a good point… and berk, you should check YOUR grammar

  • Billy

    Yawn…

  • Really?

    Someone doesn’t understand sarcasm…

  • Incurably Imbecilic

    Yeah dude this is not the place to ask this question. This is an article about concrete actions and you’re still on Trans 101.

  • did someone say gender?

    Gender and sex are both spectra. Yes, even sex. There is no “opposite gender” or “opposite sex”. Some people are masculine, others are feminine, others are somewhere in between or none at all. Some people are born with vaginas, others with penises, others with both or neither or something in between (any surgeries made to perfectly healthy intersex genitals are purely cosmetic, to fit into a cisnormative world).

    And yes, gender is socially constructed and influenced by societal factors, but that doesn’t mean it “doesn’t exist”. Your sense of self, values and belief system are influenced by societal factors too, but no one will tell you they don’t exist. Imagine you were told you couldn’t hold the values/beliefs that you feel most innate to you, just because you didn’t have the right body. But unlike values/beliefs, gender usually solidifies at around ages 3-6 and is very difficult to change (though it does in some cases throughout a person’s lifetime).

  • wow…

    do you think Stanford “bends over backward to be tolerant” because it’s sweet and darling and just wants to be nice?
    no. Stanford is only accommodating to trans students– and students of any minority– because *they demanded it* and because they continue to demand it. progress is not made with mere gratitude.
    i was in one the classes Lily was referencing in the column; the professor taught us that transness and cross-dressing were the same thing, and despite constant corrections, continually misgendered trans characters in media. in a *gender studies* class. how is this acceptable in “the most LGBT friendly school in the country”?
    also, i suggest you read the article “Why We Don’t Know The Size Of The Transgender Population”. even in the most conservative estimate, the trans population is never under 0.1%.

    the Asian population in the US is under 5%. does that mean AASA shouldn’t exist?
    think about the minuscule population of Stanford students in wheelchairs. does that mean the school made a poor investment on ramps?
    Stanford’s mission is to create a safe, thriving environment for its students. not just for the majority of its students.

  • hjohnson

    Do you know how expensive that would be?! Talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe millions in creating a sensitivity training program that is aimed at making an extremely small portion of the community’s lives a probably unnoticeable amount better. Do you really think the change in the faculty/staff would be worth all that money? It’s a little ridiculous to demand these things.This is not to say that just because the population is extremely small means that it’s unimportant You are important. Your feelings, comfort, and safety are extremely important, as are every individual’s, but from a realistic standpoint, this is ludicrous. A couple gender-neutral bathrooms is maybe reasonable, but putting one in every building or further, putting one wherever there is an existing bathroom would be spending an inordinate amount of money on a very small population of students. I can’t even imagine how uncomfortable it must be to go into a gendered bathroom as a transgender individual, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else must pay thousands and thousands of dollars to make you more comfortable. I’m really not trying to invalidate your experiences or your discomfort, but really, think about it from someone else’s perspective, i.e., the person who would have to pick up the bill on this.

    Secondly, I don’t know what point you intend to make with the statistic that a very small percent of the American population knows someone who is transgender. Obviously this number is small, since the transgender population is extremely small…? Math? Would anyone expect anything different? Would that number be higher if the treatment of the transgender population were to drastically improve? Nope, because math. Am I missing something?

    Lastly, here’s an ugly truth: people only do things that are in their best interest. Refute this all you want with outliers and specific cases etc, but it is generally true. Why would I, as an individual who is not transgender, go out of my way to learn about all the transgender culture and rules and acceptable terms/non-acceptable terms when I have other things to do? Correct me if this analogy is wrong, but why would I strive to become an expert on every single racial or cultural minority, no matter how small, just so that I’m prepared for the off chance that I meet one? Of course, if I were to encounter a trans individual, I would treat them with kindness and respect, and I would love to listen to his or her experiences and learn about his or her life and struggles. However, as you said, a bunch of people have never been exposed to transgender individuals, and therefore, a certain amount of unintentional “misgendering” or “trans-misogynistic” remarks are to be expected and should be taken as unintentional rather than malicious, at least to a certain extent. You can’t have it both ways where you expect every single person to educate themselves on a topic that has very little to do with them and also, at the same time, get upset that you have to explain things to people and field questions or even stares. You are in an extreme minority, which I’m sure at sometimes really sucks and is very hard to live with, but you can’t expect people in the majority to understand something that is so difficult for outsiders of the minority to understand. It’s a really confusing topic for people who aren’t living that reality, actually, and we need the benefit of the doubt on this matter.

  • Lily Zheng

    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/jews-less-than-0-2-of-world-population/2012/09/20/

    Sounds like a pretty extreme minority to me.

    I would challenge you to wonder why the trans community (which is estimated at .3% of the population, by the way) is so invisible when other groups that are statistically similar in terms of population are not. Let’s talk about this in terms of laws. If Title IX protects trans students at Stanford from discrimination, how is your justification that these protections don’t matter because our community is small a valid concern?

    I came to this university because I believed that I could finally be treated fairly and not discriminated against due to my gender identity. From Stanford’s non-discrimination policy:

    “Consistent with its obligations under the law, Stanford prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law in the administration of the University’s programs and activities”

    I am sorry that you believe filling these obligations is hard. Prohibiting discrimination is hard. But these laws exist for a reason.

  • hjohnson

    Again, I’m not sure why the comparison to the Jewish population is relevant. I suppose Jews are considerably more visible than the transgender community in America, but that is also because the Jewish American population is a little more than 2%, compared to the transgender 0.3%. I also live in a state (and a country) with a disproportionately large Jewish population, so I’m not sure how to contextualize that. Objectively speaking, though, 0.3% is pretty tiny. That is not to say that the individuals in this minority matter less simply because their minority is smaller.

    Which brings me to the laws that you mention. Discrimination laws are meant to ensure that everyone is treated fairly regardless of their race, religion, status, etc, etc. Meaning that a professor cannot refuse to teach someone simply because that person is Jewish. Or that a university affiliated club can refuse to take you because you’re Asian. Or that you are denied any sort of right or privilege that any other Stanford student has. The university does not, however, have any sort of obligation to bend over backwards to fill the needs of every single sub-population of students. I don’t want to get into analogies or analogous examples, because I think they often offend more often than help, but my point is that there is a difference between being a victim of legal discrimination vs. being subjected to discomforts and inconveniences inherent to one’s specific minority identity. Especially when they come at such a monetary cost. “Filling these obligations” is not just “hard,” it is expensive and time consuming and requires a lot of administrative effort in order to make something more comfortable. Okay here goes a bad analogy: I’m a woman and would love for the university to provide tampons in all the bathrooms because it is uncomfortable to get your period in a university bathroom and not have any tampons. It would make me, as a woman and because of social constructs, very uncomfortable to have to go back to class covered in blood because I was not provided with a university tampon. Is it fair to ask the university to stock all the bathrooms with tampons or is it something I should just deal with? Is it discriminatory to women to not have tampons in the bathrooms, or is it just an uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing convenience?
    Please, if I’m wrong, correct me. I really don’t want to offend anyone, but I am having trouble with the logical portion of your argument.
    Lastly, having faculty and staff that are not entirely educated on the topic of your identity does not necessarily make them discriminatory. If they accidentally offend you by saying something wrong in simple ignorance about the matter or using the wrong pronoun, that is not discrimination. It may be rude and uncomfortable, but it is not legal discrimination. I do believe that having sensitivity sessions with the faculty would cut down on these awkward or uncomfortable experiences, but it would not help discrimination. If someone is going to discriminate against you they are going to do so whether they’ve attended an hour long, $2 million speech about tolerance or not. That’s just not how the human race works.
    Thank you for your response, by the way. It is wonderful that you are engaging in discussion and trying to help people understand.

  • Lily Zheng

    Discrimination: The act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment, or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of their race, age, gender, handicap or other defining characteristic.

    If all facilities say “men” and “women,” what about individuals who are neither?

    If all cisgender people get to have their pronouns respected, then why not me?

    What is it called when I am called a man to my face? What is it called when misgendering becomes a chronic, constant issue, or is done intentionally out of malice?

    When students like me are kicked out of classrooms on the basis of their identity? When students like me are insulted and denied healthcare at Vaden? When students like me are put into housing situations which make them unsafe?

    These are not “inconveniences.”

  • hjohnson

    I am of course not speaking about you personally or about your personal experiences, and I am not saying that you have not been discriminated against at Stanford on a number of levels. Of course being denied healthcare at Vaden and getting kicked out of classrooms is discrimination and wrong. Obviously. I hope that you’ve followed up on these instances and have been taken seriously about them.

    That being said, misgendering or pronoun mistakes or even being called a man is not discrimination, even if it is done maliciously. It is rude and mean and hurtful for sure, but it is not discrimination under the university’s jurisdiction. Sorry, it just legally isn’t. In a perfect world it wouldn’t happen, but you can’t say that the school is responsible for making sure that nobody offends you in this manner.

    As for bathrooms, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like nobody is going to stop you from going into whichever bathroom you choose, and you will be met with limited resistance. (Sure, maybe a rude look or even comment, but unless you’re physically or verbally forced out of the bathroom by a representative of the university, you have not been denied access to facilities) It isn’t ideal for people who aren’t traditionally male or female, of course, but to say it is legal discrimination is a real stretch, never mind the cost of it.

    Using these laws to back up a social agenda is really the wrong way to go about this. Demanding costly changes by using legally-charged words- such as “safe” “threatened” and “discrimination”- won’t improve the tolerance of the community and therefore won’t bring the acceptance and comfort that you’re clearly missing at Stanford. I think what everyone really wants is a social change rather than legal action, and strong arming people with a flimsy, and, frankly, too vague to be useful, law is not going to get you the better social treatment that you deserve.

  • Lily Zheng

    “Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment.”

  • Jonathan Poto

    Your argument about cost would hold more weight if we didn’t have a multi billion dollar endowment.

  • Space Cowboy

    To ask Stanford to offer more for you, so that your life can be more ‘fair’ (because you’re ‘special’) is absurd! Maybe, you don’t pay full price tuition, but my parents do! Let me understand this- You believe that it’s ok for others to pay what for sure will end up as a raise in tuition costs because you need special bathrooms, Stanford personnel/employees trained in LBGT “issues”, and guaranteed ‘gender-nuetral’ housing?

    Who are you?!

    When will it be enough?

    Why can’t we live in a world together and realize that life isn’t perfect?
    Life will never be tailored enough to satisfy everyone’s needs or desires.
    Stop playing the victim and live your life (whatever sex you might want it to be). You’re wasting your time on this Earth and the meaning of your life by being petty and self-serving.

    Do something good in the world, something that really matters that will help others with far greater worries than whether or not a school and it’s employees are slighting your trans-ness.

    Stop whining and start living the life God wanted you to live!

    (And, by the way- don’t waste this chance to get a great education because you feel slighted about your living conditions, which-by the way, are 100X better than any one living in a 3rd world country.)

  • StanfordStudent

    To me, your sex is whether you have a penis (male) or a vagina (female). If you have both, it’s true that you’re something in-between – you are intersex, but I forgot to mention these individuals in the same way that you can say negative numbers are the “opposite” of positive ones and forget about the existence of zero. Having neither is incredibly rare, but I suppose you could examine whether there’s a testes or something that could have been a vagina and go for there and identify someone that way. I see no reason to not have words associated with a given trait: we say “blondes,” “redheads,” and “brunettes,” right? Yes, there are stereotypes associated with certain of these groupings (ie dumb blondes) just like there are with gender (ie girls like dresses) but I don’t see this as a reason to stop using them entirely.

    And I don’t see how being told “you can’t believe that” is related to transitioning. What are people saying (other than perhaps you’re a boy so you can’t play with Barbie) where just being a certain sex invalidates your opinion entirely? That’s not a sex issue, it’s a huge societal issue where certain minority opinions (compared to an entire population or just a subset) are ignored because they’re coming from a certain group of people.

    I agree that gender is just a compilation of traits that are associated with a given sex… so can you identify as the opposite gender without identifying as the opposite sex (this is the part I don’t get)? It’s not particularly acceptable to say “I identify as blonde” when you’re a redhead – you’re either a blonde at the moment or you’re not. Likewise, you’re either male or female (or intersex) regardless of how you identify.

  • Space Cowboy

    This is not an article about concrete actions. This is an article (from a Tranny) who thinks she’s not treated right, who feels slighted because she has chosen to be different and expects others to change whatever they have to, so that she can feel like she’s treated fairly. This is an article to drum up support for her cause. She has not thought anything through, especially regarding realistic costs, but when she does, I hope she realizes how absolutely pathetic and ridiculous she sounds.

  • Calum You

    >chosen to be different

    ok

    Also, with the ‘realistic costs’ thing you keep harping on about: many buildings on campus which actually try to be inclusive have created gender-neutral bathrooms by placing different paper signs on the doors. A training on the ways to address persons with non-traditional pronouns for those staff that need it, especially residential staff, would take an hour. Once. Obviously more could be done, but at an institution with lavish grounds, continuous construction and incredibly generous funding for all kinds of things, it seems incredibly sad to raise financial barriers as a reason not to even make these small gestures towards inclusivity.

  • LanceCS

    Human biological sex is as much of a spectrum as human hands or human legs. Are you willing to extend your ridiculous logic that an extremely small percentage of the human population that experiences a wide range of biological conditions is now enough to no longer refer to the human species as being sexually dimorphic, as having 5 digits per hand and as having two legs? Are you prepared to say that human beings are not a bipedal species simply because thousands of people (vs. 7 billion) are born without the ability to walk?

    I thought so.

  • LanceCS

    “Help, I’m living in a rich U.S. college campus and I’m just trying to SURVIVE here”.

    Wow yes I am sure life must be incredibly difficult for you.

  • Bolt

    Lily, you do allude to legitimate instances of discrimination if indeed transgendered students have been kicked out of classes solely because of their gender, or likewise refused healthcare at Vaden. Although the skeptic in me would want to know more details in particular regarding being thrown out of a classroom, as I can’t imagine a scenario where a university official learns about a student’s gender and immediately tosses them out of the classroom on that basis alone.

    That aside, while the university has an obligation to remove all discrimination based on the factors we all know and love, the university is not required to enforce the right of people not to be offended. The line between taking offense to being discriminated against is usually a personal one, and therefore the university at most is required to provide equal opportunities for all students.

    And let’s look at the math for adding one new bathroom to every building on campus for transgendered people. Stanford has over 700 buildings (http://facts.stanford.edu/about/lands) and the average cost of a bathroom remodel is $13k (http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/bathrooms/remodel-a-bathroom/) . We’ll be very generous and use the $13k number despite the fact that the additional restroom will most likely be created from the space currently occupied, which would require additional remodeling and reduce the utility of that built-into space. Let’s say that half of Stanford’s declared buildings don’t require bathrooms. The total is roughly $4.5 million dollars. Assuming that Stanford is a community of 30k people, that $4.5 million dollars to serve 90 transgendered persons, or roughly four new bathrooms per person. $50,000 of bathroom remodeling per transgendered person and I’m honestly not sure how all these new bathrooms are going to help reduce discrimination to a significant degree, which is our ultimate goal.

    Hjohnson is spot-on by mentioning how using discrimination laws to back a social agenda is the wrong way to achieve meaningful lasting results. Full acceptance is changing the hearts and minds in a society, not just bathrooms.

  • Hp440lisa

    85% of intersex people identify as the sex they were listed at birth and as heterosexual within that sex. As for surgery calling it purely cosmetic is a pretty rude thing to do. The sooner the public wises up that self appointed “LGBTQ” activist are lying jerks the better.

  • Hp440lisa

    As a person of transitioned history I really can’t stand people like you making yourself a self appointed representative for all of us. Personally I see your preferred word of “Transgender” as nothing but a fancy way of calling yourself a queer Transvestite. If I was at Stanford I’d be filing sex discrimination complaints against “LGBTQ” activist for including people like me in your delusions and demands.

  • Hp440lisa

    I’m wondering if maybe you transitioned and enjoy educating so much as part of your kink identity? One does not have to be “Transsexual” or to even have gender dysphoria to claim to be “Transgender.” In fact people with multiple paraphilias and other psychiatric problems are allowed to transition and since the adoption and promotion of the use of the word “Transgender” there really are no standards of care. While it has also been said many “Transgender” people do not like the word “Transsexual” the fact is many if not most “Transgender” self identified people are not Transsexual. I think the two terms ought to be separated as well as the word Intersex and strict rules need to be put on their use. No more queer activist confusing people as to who is what or why and making ridiculous demands of the general public.

  • Lily Zheng

    You’re right; full acceptance goes way, way, WAY beyond bathrooms. This op-ed is not the only thing I have written. These demands are not the only thing I am seeking to contribute.

    The reality of the situation is that I am one woman. I cannot win everyone’s hearts and minds — what I can do is try to change the institutions and systems that hurt people like me. This is the first time I have made demands on the Daily — try not to see this as the only thing I have ever done for my community.

    As for bathrooms, I am frankly unimpressed by your numbers. Would you make the same argument against making buildings accessible for disabled people? All those ramps. All those elevators. Millions and millions and millions of dollars, all for a few people with crutches and wheelchairs. Would you honestly make that argument? The fact of the matter is that I am making these demands because it is my right to not be discriminated against on this campus. That so many people feel threatened by this, and are taking every avenue possible to discredit these demands, speaks really to the state of affairs on campus. It’s fine if trans people get a vigil. It’s fine if trans people are hurting. It’s fine if trans people are doing the invisible work of education, one person at a time, exhaustingly. But the second we appear in the public eye to ask for anything, we’re “doing it wrong.”

  • Lily Zheng

    Yeah, news flash: I have privilege! Would I have to be the most disadvantaged, hurting, bedraggled person for people like you to listen to me? Would you tell a cancer patient that they should stop complaining because some people have cancer AND AIDS? Your arguments amounts to the statement that no one at Stanford can complain about anything. That all issues on campus are a moot point because this is “Stanford” and we have it good.

    I am fully aware that people have it worse. I am tired of people making the fallacious argument that anyone having it worse immediately invalidates my experiences.

  • Lily Zheng

    I don’t know what you’ve experienced, but I am sorry you see trans activism as threatening to you. I am fighting against discrimination on this campus for people like me — if you don’t feel like it applies to people like you, then that’s fine. “Transgender” or “trans” has been adopted by most queer communities as an umbrella term to encompass people who are many, many identities. If you believe other things are better worth fighting for, than that’s fine.

  • Hp440lisa

    Are you really fighting to end discrimination? Because I do not see what you are doing as that. I see the word “transgender” as a weasel word and a as way that as you call them queer activist can sexually discriminate against every person from every supposed subgroup of the umbrella term “Transgender” that does not self-identify as or with the “LGBT.” Really “Transgender” is a very offensive word who use it is time to end.

  • *sigh*

    I like how every spineless transphobe comes crawling out of the woodwork in the comments section of columns like these. They do it anonymously because they know they would be laughed at in real life, and are too cowardly to attach their name to their ideas.
    Don’t worry, Lily. Your article has been shared and read and appreciated by ten times more people than those who want to feel important by screaming in your shadow.

  • Bolt

    Thanks for your comment.

    Looking at your posting history you are indeed striving for full equality on a number of fronts. Although, calling your suggestions “demands” does have an aggressive connotation, and it may be more difficult to recruit more advocates for your cause using such strong language.

    On the bathroom topic, I find your equivalence between the spirit in which the ADA was founded and the conditions that transgendered persons are in currently to be false. All the ramps, elevators, and handrails installed in compliance with the ADA was to provide equal access of all facilities between abled and disabled persons. Transgendered persons have equal access to all facilities to abled-bodied persons currently. To discriminate against disabled people in this instance would be to deny them access to facilities strictly because they’re disabled. However, if you still believe that such an equivalence between the two groups exist then I’m afraid that on this subject, you and I must agree to disagree.

    I’m distressed by the end of your post. We went from talking about bathrooms to you voicing your opinion that the majority of SU is fine if transgender people are hurting, and that every time those in the transgendered community ask for anything, their requests are rebuffed. Your rhetoric seemed to escalate very quickly and I’m concerned that such knee-jerk reactions are hurting your cause, instead of facilitating an amicable discussion. While I can sympathize that living as a transgender in a society still adjusting to the concept is incredibly difficult, brash negative generalizations don’t help create a safe space in which all sides can work towards progress.

  • Lily Zheng

    I think that what I’ve found in my experience is that aggressive asks get you heard, and different situations call for different tactics. When I am giving panels or talks, I take a very different approach with my activism, as my audience requires a different set of strategies. For widely-consumed Daily columns, the tactics I have been using are the most effective for sparking conversation, action, and change.

    As for bathrooms, I would very much argue that the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus severely hurts the trans and gender-expansive community on campus, and that not having a bathroom that reflects their gender identity not only denies these people access to facilities, but often forces them into situations in which they must use facilities that are dangerous for them. By dangerous, I mean this:

    http://www.thefrederickcenter.com/uploads/3/2/2/9/32298427/lesbian_gay_bisexual_and_transgender_youth_talk_about_experiencing_and_coping_with_school_violence-_a_qualitative_study.pdf

    http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1253&context=jcl

    http://idahossc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Transgender-and-Gender-NonConforming-Youth-reccomendations.pdf

    http://sex.sagepub.com/content/16/7/807.full.pdf

    The reality of the situation on campus is that there has been very little effort on behalf of the administration or student body to care about trans issues, except when a murder happens or our community is in pain. From my own experiences, this is what I have observed. I think acknowledging that there’s a dearth in the cisgender community at Stanford truly caring and committing themselves to helping the trans community, and see nothing wrong with this acknowledgement if it’s reality. I get that hearing me say that puts you on the defensive, as a cis person. I get that the rhetoric of “not all cis people” or “some cis people” is inherently more comfortable. But the fact is that we cannot work towards progress unless we acknowledge the current reality, which is that cis people at Stanford make life harder for trans people at Stanford. I get that not every single cis person at Stanford is inherently transphobic or discriminatory, but the usage of that rhetoric (that I’m ‘generalizing’ or being ‘brash’) to invalidate my very real concerns is frustrating to hear.

    I think it’s very much an unfair situation in which we create environments that are inherently hostile to marginalized communities, and then blame them for responding with anger or rudeness. I think the image of the always-polite-sweet-caring-patient-resourceful-handholding-activist is very much an impossible standard that many people from hurting communities are held up to.

  • Jonathan Poto

    Follow your own advice and stop trying to change people by whining making them feel bad about expressing their opinions,

  • Jonathan Poto

    If you’re jealous about not having your voice heard, go get a columnist job somewhere. Write your own oped. But don’t come out and attack the writer of an opinion piece out of some desire to see them shut up. I would call that discrimination,that is, if anyone actually cared what you had to say.