The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Saint Mary’s students rally in support of transgender rights

| Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In light of President Trump’s new memo seeking to legally define sex as biological, Saint Mary’s students, faculty and community members joined together Monday on Library Green in solidarity with transgender individuals to support their rights.

The rally, organized by, junior Genesis Vasquez and sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Department, the SMC Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) and the Transgender Resource, Education and Enrichment Services (TREES), aimed to fight gender discrimination and exclusion of transgender individuals under the new Title IX law.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Members of the Saint Mary’s community gather Monday on Library Green to rally in support of transgender community members. The rally was convened in opposition to a recent proposal by the Trump administration to define gender as biological sex.

“Right away when I saw that sex and gender would be biologically defined, I got mad because this openly excludes and marginalizes a specific group of people,” Vasquez said. “The whole point of this rally was not only to support transgender students that are here but to be supportive of transgender people anywhere because whether it impacts you directly or not, it affects the rights of a certain group of people and that’s not okay.”

Vasquez said it is important for an institution like Saint Mary’s, which enrolls transgender students, to acknowledge and support transgender people in the community as they fight for the rights they deserve.

“Although Saint Mary’s does help transgender students, they still won’t publicly advocate for them,” she said. “If you’re not publicly acknowledging that this is an issue for people within your own community, you’re not only excluding them but you’re giving off an impression that they don’t exist. I’m not transgender, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn, and I can’t understand and I can’t be an ally. You don’t have to be within the LGBTQ community to care about this issue or to be an advocate or to be empathetic to the struggles people are going through.”

Nicole Aggarwal, a junior double major in Communication Studies and Sociology, explained that she participated in the rally to uphold her commitment as an ally and to use the privilege she has as a cisgendered woman to advocate for transgender people.

“If you consider yourself an ally, you have to be doing everything in your power and within your privilege to reflect that, and going to the rally really solidified why I am an ally and why I think it’s important to be an ally,” Aggarwal said. It’s more than just saying, ‘oh, I accept these individuals’, it’s fighting for their rights as well and standing with them in situations like this, where someone is intentionally trying to remove them and claim that they’re identity as a whole is invalid. For me, this is the perfect time to take a stand and show that even though I’m not trans and do not have that experience at all, I can find different ways to empathize and use my voice to help those who are.”

Aggarwal said she disagrees with the Title IX due to the fact that it removes the rights and freedom people deserve to have in expressing their own personal identity.

“I thought it was pretty appalling just because I don’t think sex and gender should be regulated at a federal level, it’s definitely a personal affair and I don’t think Trump or his administration has the power or authority to determine who’s considered a human being basically and who isn’t,” she said. “I think someone’s personal identity is personal and is, therefore, their decision.”

Aggarwal said Saint Mary’s as an institution should be doing more to publicly take a stand on situations, such as this one, that are becoming increasingly relevant and popular in today’s society and culture.

“I think Saint Mary’s does a lot of work towards promoting social justice and they’re a very open and welcoming community, but if we don’t take a stand against the Trump administration and take a stand with our trans friends and family and people that are going through this, that makes a statement and sends a specific type of message,” she said. “I know there’s a practice, and the administration and faculty have admitted that there is a practice, with regards to who can attend Saint Mary’s and who cannot. But I think it’s telling and disappointing that they won’t make it an official policy, let alone make a definitive statement or take a stand publicly.”

Tags: , , ,

About Iman Omar

Contact Iman