Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Heteronormativity Alert!

I, along with the rest of the University of Maryland student body, recently received this e-mail:

The University community has been considering how best to protect faculty, staff, and students at Maryland who potentially face discrimination on the basis of gender expression or gender identity. Specifically, the University Senate discussed and unanimously passed a proposal to amend the campus Human Relations Code by adding "gender identity and gender expression" to the protections outlined in the Code, and I approved the Senate's action.
After extensive review, the State Attorney General's Office determined there is no legal necessity to amend the Code to include these categories, and the University may interpret the Code, without revision, to include both gender identity and gender expression.Based on the Attorney General's advice, I am writing to make it clear that members of our campus community will have recourse for discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression under the University's Human Relations Code as it stands without amendment. The Code and Enforcement Procedures are available online at http://www.ohrp.umd.edu/compliance/hrc/intro.html

I have two and-a-half questions about this update:

1) For a "bastion of tolerance" such as a public university, shouldn't this have been made clear before? I mean, shouldn't a student body comprised mostly of left-leaning people already be fully tolerant of the gay community, as we're led to believe? My roommate last semester was a gay guy. Sure, we differed in sexual orientation, race, religion, and political affiliation, but I wouldn't trade the stuff my old roommate taught me about college life for anything. We were actually going to make it into a sitcom before we decided "So we're different - who cares? We're Americans, aren't we?!" Damn - that guy was cool. Is it really conservatives who despise the gay community, or is it closer to being represented on each side then we're led to believe?

2) Okay, I digress - but secondly, is this in any way shape or form related to the infamous Jada Pinkett Smith Heteronormative "fiasco" a few weeks ago? Something about the time frame makes me think that "Indeed. Yes it does." I ask you to question other university students who may read your blogs and ask them if they've seen anything like this in their e-mail inbox?

2.5) I'll probably tick off a lot of people with #2.5, but the whole transgendered/unisex bathroom thing really irks me. I don't know about you, but I have a very difficult time using the lavatory if I think a female (even if she believes herself to be a man) could walk in there at any moment. Please. If you do not have male organs, no matter what you believe yourself to be, please do not use the men's room. I have had this problem at least 3 times. You are not the only one who can become uncomfortable, you know. However, this does not apply to single-person bathrooms, which, even in my high school, were used by members of either sex. But if it is a multiple-person lavatory, no, you should not be allowed to use whichever you please. The question is, are they going to take this and establish these bathrooms?

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