Editorial: Anti-transgender attitudes, actions must be opposed

Herald Editorial Board

The Issue: Levi Hanson, a transgender student seeking enrollment in WKU’s ROTC program, was recently informed he could not become a contracted cadet due to recent federal policies dismissing transgender soldiers from the military.

Our Stance: Anti-transgender sentiment, let alone in the military, is not something which has recently begun, but rather manifested and culminated itself in the highest form of our government. The effects of this attitude are already being felt on the local level.

It is rather shortsighted to claim this overarching anti-transgender sentiment began with President Donald Trump and his administration.

This attitude towards transgender and gender non-conforming individuals has been culminating years before our Celebrity-Executive-Officer ever set foot in the Oval Office.

Just ask 22-year-old transgender woman Chrissy Polis who was beaten into a seizure by three teens just outside of Baltimore, Maryland in 2011.

Talk to the substantial number of transgender individuals who lost their jobs, were refused health care, and evicted from their houses due to their gender status.

This prejudice not only affects the physical well-being of these individuals, but their mental health as well. According to National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts was considered “especially high” among transgender respondents.

The hatred has always been present; the only difference now is that it holds substantial power to affect the LGBT community on a national scale.

This power was put on display on Aug. 25 when Trump issued the directive to ban transgender military recruits. What began as a meaningless tweet has translated into discrimination of a group that already faces marginalization on a regular basis.

Levi Hanson’s inability to progress further in WKU’s ROTC program due to discriminatory federal policy is another slap in the face to a group with a long history of getting hit.

By no means is this a slight on our university’s ROTC program. An organization, especially like that of ROTC, can only be expected to follow the policies created by those higher up on the chain of command.

This further reveals the anti-transgender sentiment is going to get worse before it gets better, a sentiment echoed by Hanson’s boyfriend CJ Wicker. When a minority group that is already misunderstood by the majority is further marginalized, the likely result will be even more division, which sometimes can to violence.

We must offer any support we can to the transgender folks in, and outside of, our lives so no one is limited in what they can accomplish due to prejudice, due to hatred, due to ignorance.

WKU has already taken the initiative of supporting transgender students through the availability of counseling services specifically for gender non-conforming students, the presence of all-gender bathrooms located throughout campus, and the creation of the WKU Pride Center which provides support for WKU’s LGBT community.

These resources are a good start to show that we will continue to stand and support those transgender individuals whose lives are negatively affected due to prejudice.

There are several other student run initiatives for LGBT students at WKU, such as the Queer Student Union. However, there is always more to be done. As we see the detrimental effects of one presidential administration we think about our own as well.

President Timothy Caboni’s interests, thus far, at WKU have lied heavily in fixing our financial straits, however, we hope to see his interests and influence reach beyond our financial issues well.

For instance, we hope to see him continue the tradition started by President Gary Ransdell of hosting the LGBTQ Ice Cream Social. However, ice cream should never be a stopping point.

If the federal government is bent on discrimination against LGBT people in the United States, we can only count on our own communities and local governments to combat a growing sentiment of hate.