Student Government

Bringing gender identity issues to forefront


From right, CLASS Senator Guillermo Lopez, SGA President Charles Haston, CLASS Senator James Lee and recent master’s recipient Josephine Tittsworth addressed questions and concerns at a town hall meeting. Along with LGBT Resource Center Program Director Lorraine Schroeder and communication and marketing senior and transman Lou Weaver, they discussed a proposed University bill that would allow transgender students to use their discerned gender, name and title.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

The Josephine Tittsworth Act is a bill that has garnered considerably notoriety in its brief lifespan. Though it’s existed for only around a month, many questions have been raised because of the bill’s tendentious content — namely that it directly advocates the recognition of UH’s transgender community in regard to record-keeping at the University.

To address possible concerns surrounding the Student Government Association University Bill, a town hall meeting was held Wednesday in the SGA Senate Chambers, where more than 50 students, faculty members and alumni were able to voice their opinions about the bill.

The bill, which was authored by SGA President Charles Haston, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senator James Lee and former CLASS Senator Guillermo Lopez, cited the University’s nondiscriminatory policy as grounds to allow “students, faculty and staff to apply their preferred first name, title and personally discerned gender in all standard forms of documentation or record keeping,” including “PeopleSoft and all other university documents that require persons to designate their gender regardless of the individual’s biological or birth-determined sex.”

A panel composed of the three co-authors as well as LGBT Resource Center Director Lorraine Schroeder, marketing senior and transman Lou Weaver and Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Jason Bergeron led the meeting, along with alumna Josephine Tittsworth, a former SGA senator.

“It’s difficult for us to wrap our heads around the transgender issue, since there are lots of things in life that are difficult to understand, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real,” Schroeder said.

“The experience of these people typically is not that of a trans person, but of that gender they’re expressing. A transman experiences himself as a man and a transwoman experiences herself as a woman. Things like transgender surgery are all efforts to help their outward experience match their true identity and who they are.”

The meeting operated in a confidential question-and-answer format. Speaker of the Senate Shaun Smith passed around blank slips of paper on which attendees were able to write questions without revealing their identities. A considerable majority of the questions were regarding the legalities and real-world effects of the bill rather than people expressing their opinions regarding it.

“People are realizing that diversity is an asset — not something that holds you back, but something that helps you step forward,” Tittsworth said.
A concern that seemed to resonate with many dealt with the issue of housing and whether transwomen who were identified as female on UH documents could be assigned as roommates to women who are not trans.

“Though I can’t say how specifically it would be done, the safety and consideration of all students would be taken into consideration,” Schroeder said. “We’d work the ins and outs of how we’d make those accommodations in the housing process. Just because we don’t know the answers to those questions doesn’t mean it can’t be done — 47 schools have already done (what this bill proposes).”

Several members of the UH Greek community voiced the concerns of Panhellenic fraternities and sororities during the meeting. The possibility of a transwoman filing legal suit for being rejected, though it may not have been on the basis of gender identity, was addressed.

“Throughout our conversations, it seems that this has become a fraternity and sorority issue … and I don’t see it as that,” Bergeron said. “Fraternities and sororities have always been about mutual selection of members. They (will still be allowed to) select whom they want in their organization.”

Bergeron cited a favorite quote of his: “‘Seek to understand, then to be understood.’ There’s an incredible amount of opportunity to understand, and then work on being understood.”

SGA will vote on the bill in an upcoming meeting.

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  • Why does this bill exclude all the students who don’t identify as transgendered? Why are we discriminating against those who aren’t trans? What if I decided that I wanted to change my name on all school documents? Am I not allowed to because I don’t identify as trans? What if I wanted a bill to be passed that says I can identify as both male and female? Do I then gain access to both male and female housing? Would you then be obligated to provide me with those options. This is an overreach of the Student Government Association and ought to either go into referendum or to the administration. I am a 23 year old white gay male and I am telling all of you people that this is not something the LGBTQ Community stands for.

    • You’re one 32 year old cisgender white male speaking for the entire LGBTQ community, and you’re wrong. This is exactly what the community stands for: equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. There’s a fundamental difference between a transgender person wanting to be recognized as who they are and making a consistent effort to be that person, and somebody just running around making declarations about who they are and doing nothing else to back it up. Going to therapy and getting on HRT is a huge life-altering thing, and the affirmation of being accepted as who we are (as a gay man, you should know how important that is) can literally save our lives. But you’re young, so maybe you don’t know how hard it was 10-15 years ago for gay people, which is still not as hard as it is now for trans people. You don’t understand, so you fight an ignorant fight against a segment of your own community that’s been backing you up for decades. How nice.

      • Lol this does nothing for those people. This “fight” is being fought the wrong way. I am all for equality. But this bill is not for equality. It’s an overreach of power.

        • It is for equality, and if you can’t see that then you’re just ignorant to transgender issues. You care about YOUR equality and anything beyond that is nothing to you.

          • You are absolutely correct that I care about my equality. And you can sit here and lie to all these people but when you go to the polls and vote you don’t vote based on what everyone else wants and how it will benefit them. You vote in yourself. Get over it.

            • Well, I care about MY equality too. Marriage equality means nothing to me as a transgender woman, but a trans-inclusive ENDA does. Bathroom rights do.

              I have voted and fought for gay rights because it’s the right thing to do, and instead of standing up for part of your own community you claim that OUR rights aren’t what WE ALL stand for. What the hell is wrong with you?

              • “I have voted and fought for gay rights because it’s the right thing to do…” What makes it the right thing to do? You are no different than far right conservatives who only want the world to look at their views and agree with them. You are taking away the right from people to feel and believe the way they want. If someone wants to vote this Bill down because they are an ignorant bigot, then I support them. We live in a country that grants us the right to do so. You are attempting to make people feel uncomfortable just for you to feel comfortable. That’s wrong! And that is the reason the LGBTQ Community has struggled with progress. We are trying to force things onto people and that is not how tolerance is achieved.

                • NO. I am not taking away people’s rights to FEEL the way they do by voting for EQUALITY. They can FEEL that they lose something by US being equal, but that’s an utter falsehood. The only thing they lose is knowledge that they have something we do not… and that is nothing. They can still FEEL how they feel about us.

                  There’s a difference between a cisgender person feeling uncomfortable and a trans person feeling uncomfortable. 61% of us are victims of violence just for being who we are. 41% of us attempt suicide because of the pressure we’re under. The vast majority of us are under stress that the APA has said is worse than Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that war veterans deal with. We’re regularly beaten and murdered BECAUSE they feel uncomfortable. What happens to cis people when they’re uncomfortable? Oh right, they get to beat us out of existence. They get to legislate our rights away.

                  You’re not only wrong, you’re ignorant. I’m not liberal for the sake of being liberal, I actually believe in truth and equality. You just admire people for sticking to meaningless “values” that destroy other human beings and their right to live their lives without fear.

                  You know, civil rights had to be bitterly fought for for black people. They didn’t just share a bunch of cake with whitey to get acceptance and get what they deserve. They still deserve better.

                  So do I.

                  So do you. Even if you’re a complete and utter fool who just doesn’t get it.

                  • You still didn’t answer my question but I didn’t figure you would. Education isn’t exactly a strong point for most liberals. Anyway, you do you and I will do me. This Bill is disgusting to me and I get to feel that way because I am an American. You don’t get to force your views upon me the same way I don’t get to force mine upon you. Good luck!

                    • I have to explain why voting for human rights equalities is the right thing to do, really?

                      But hey, you say you don’t get to force your views upon me, then go about making sure that your views ARE forced upon me by opposing things that make it safe for me to live. So there’s that.

                    • Maybe this might explain it, Shelby:

                      “The right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, like the other guarantees of the Bill of Rights, may not be submitted to vote; it depends on the outcome of no elections. The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.”

                      — Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 269 (1972)

                      The US system of a constitutional Republic was set up precisely because untrammeled Democracy causes Tyranny. There must be “checks and balances” over lynch mobs for example.

                      You wrote:

                      This Bill is disgusting to me and I get to feel that way because I am an American

                      No, it’s because of other reasons. It’s not “disgusting” to many Americans.

                      You can feel any way you want to, but so can every person on the planet. Because you’re in America – rather than being American – you have the right to express those feelings, though even there the laws regarding libel and slander constrain you.

                      You may “feel” that the Earth is Flat, that the Moon is made of Green Cheese, that Obama was born on Mars, or anything else. You may express these opinions. But it doesn’t make them true, nor does it require others to treat either them or you seriously.

                    • From one cis gay dude to another, I sincerely hope you choke on a dick Shelby, you’re making us look like bigoted dipshits.

                    • Megan, it’s not dismissive but merely my response when the conversation is going nowhere. This Bill will get voted down and most people who are for it will bash those he voted no. Why is that okay? Why are they not allowed to vote no? Why? Because it’s not what you want.

                    • The safety of a few is worth more than the comfort of another few. This isn’t just an opinion, it’s basic human rights. You’re a transphobic gay man, and totally uninformed on the issue.

                    • Thank you for giving me a title and placing me in a box when you know nothing about me. Seems like you and us “right wing conservatives” have more in common than you think.

                    • You placed yourself in the box with your ignorant and misinformed comments. I just called what I observed.

                    • And you did the exact same thing when you decided to pass judgement on someone you know nothing about. You have no ode what I have experienced and what connection I have with the trans community, yet you believe that you do.

                    • I’m part of the trans community. You’ve done nothing but express a lack of support for trans issues and claim that this isn’t what our community stands for. I can only go by what you’ve said, and what you’ve said is uninformed, unsupportive, and ignorant.

                    • I find it interesting you thought the bill would get voted down. I think If I remember what the vote count was, and I do because I was there, only four senators voted no and ELEVEN voted yes. You should pay more attention to the needs of people in your own community, ass wipe.

                    • It is rather sad that a gay guy like Shelby has fallen for the RWBS that “they want special rights”, or that a majority should be able to deny a minority the right to assert the identify they were born with. Unfortunately it would appear that he’ll argue that green is red simply to get the last word. He’s a troll, as evidenced by his “liberals are all blah blah”.

                    • Shelby is not a troll. You are more than welcome to have a conversation with me and interact with me in person. This is something I feel passionately about.

                    • You are appropriating the exact same language as those who oppress gay people, but against trans people. “They don’t want equality they want special rights” = your overreach comment.

    • This does not in any way exclude students who don’t identify as transgender, nor discriminate against students who are not trans*. You and other cisgender individuals would benefit from the new rule if you wanted to change your name on school documents. This would be awesome. Also, it is a side effect of what happens when equity is extended to trans* people.

      • So if I were a heterosexual male and I decided to list that I was transgendered would I be able to then room with a female who put they are trans friendly?

      • Rani, not really surprising at all, I’ve seen it repeatedly throughout LGBT history and in my time in this community. They want everyone to drop what they are doing to support their issue concerns, but once attained, they could care less about anyone else’s issues.

        And that selfishness is magnified when they call themselves ‘proud conservatives’

        • And you know about the issues I care about how? I don’t need you or anyone for that matter to support my issues. My issues are my issues. Your issues are your issues. Is this a very selfish way of looking at it? Yes. But it is the way we all look at it. It is the way we are made. If you can gain a right but someone else loses one, you will. Get down off your cross and quit acting like you really care. Because if you did them you would have written this bill yourself a long time ago.

          • The majority of the American people still believe that every single
            individual in this country is entitled to just as much respect, just as
            much dignity, as every other individual
            –Barbara Jordan

            Human rights is not a zero sum game in which if you grant rights to a marginalized group, somebody else loses something.

            Everyone gains when human rights are expanded. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed specifically for African-Americans 50 years ago, but other ethnic groups, and the gay community have benefited from its passage. .

            That conservative BS thinking is why this no brainer Tittsworth Act was unnecessarily contentious

      • Being white doesn’t have much to do with it. Minorities aren’t much more inclusive of the trans community than whites if they are at all.

        But then again, I think new-age terms like pansexuality are stupid. Bi is perfectly apt at describing sexuality.

        I don’t really care if this bill passes or not, it’s really up to the vote of the school if students feel you should have to get a legal name change or not. They can start accepting otherkin on legal documentation if the students vote for it. But I don’t really take voting against such things as serious examples of “oppression”.

        • Shelby, You have already proven yourself to be an anti-trans gay man who was too cowardly to step into the room last night and express his opposition to the Tittsworth Act for the entire world to see,
          but wants to hide behind a computer screedn to do so.

          You have proven yourself to need Jesus, awareness of the fact that you are swimming in WMP and deliberately ignorant about a lot of things.

          How inclusive my community is about the LGBT people of African heritage in it is just another of the subjects you know precious little about.

    • That’s the problem you are a gay white male expressing your beliefs about the transgender experience which you know nothing about.
      If you change your name you could receive the same type of treatment as a trans student about your identity.
      Although trans folks have medical interventions that also keep their records private

    • Your pathetic attempt at trolling has done nothing but expose your neanderthalic nature. Maybe you ought to spend more time getting educated on these issues instead of making comments that only expose your idiocy.

      • I’m not trolling. You may need to freshen up on what trolling actually means. I am extremely educated on these issues and you wouldn’t know if I were or not. You don’t know me the same way I don’t know you. God Bless you! 😉

      • why are you mocking neanderthals? are you a bigot. Would you use bushmen or tribesman in a condescending way?

        • You are correct. I apologize for shaming neanderthals by including someone as stupid as Shelby Caelum Jeffcoat in their racial group. I would like to formally apologize to the neanderthal community. It was not my intent to offend them.

    • For real. So much of this comes down to difference in opinion or philosophical differences. The fact that people disagree with the trans community on how name changes should be dealt with is not equivalent to oppression. Oppression is physical, and emotional attacking. Choosing to not allow students to just change their names on school documentation as a workaround legal name changes does not make everyone who philosophically disagrees a bigot.

      Bigot, racist, and sexist have become shut out tools from more radical social justice warriors to shut down any conversation or disagreement with their philosophical positions. It often doesn’t matter how polite, pro-rights, or active you are in social justice movements yourself, disagreeing with a position often gets such names slung at you in an attempt to put you on the defensive.

      The cisgendered, white, straight male becomes the enemy of such people quickly, even on the smallest disagreements. It gets thrown as an insult way too fast.

      Just take a look at tumblr. If you don’t think transethnic otherkins are an oppressed class, you become satan to many users there.

      • I even had someone chastise me for using the pronoun “he” in place of a gender neutral pronoun in a recent paper of mine. Never mind the fact that “he” has been used as gender neutral for much longer than silly made-up pronouns like xie and fae have been around. It doesn’t make me sexist, or society sexist that “he” is the normal neutral pronoun. “Womyn” is not real word either. Sorry SJWs.

      • If you don’t want to be called bigoted, sexist, racist or transphobic, don’t engage in behaviors that will get you called out as bigoted, sexist, racist or transphobic.

        • You don’t have to do any of those to get called that name. Are you insinuating that everyone who wildly accuses someone of one of those crimes is automatically guilty? Is over-sensitivity not a thing?
          Am I bigot for thinking otherkins are ridiculous now?

    • I remember back in the 80s… people saying the same thing about the word “heterosexual”. Now it’s just business as usual. Saying cisgender is normal is saying transgender is abnormal. While one is certainly more common, both happen naturally, so why the hostility in trying to imply trans is abnormal? Also, it’s “cisgender”, no “ed” on the end. Same with transgender.

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