Please listen to trans people! A reflection on transphobia


Jay Kratz `23 asks the community to complete the simple request of of listening to trans people in the wake of horrific transphobia.

Jay Kratz

Content warning: contains discussion of violence, transphobia, school shootings and suicide

When I clicked on the hashtag #schoolshooting on Twitter late in the afternoon on March 27, the first image I saw was of a shooter’s professional headshot next to their name and pronouns (he/him). Female, read the headline of the tweet. Fuck, I thought. 

I woke up at 5 a.m. the next morning and checked Twitter again. I saw that Elon Musk had promoted a tweet by some right-wing commentator. It had four different shootings listed with the repeating phrase: “shooter identified as trans.” Well, there it is. Not only are children dead, but the tragedy will doubtlessly be used to bolster attacks against trans people across the country for the crime of existing. I am even more terrified for my life and rights as a trans person.

The week before spring break, we had a bit of a campus cultural moment wherein there was a flurry of activity, debate and an outpouring of — I will say it — explicit transphobia on the anonymous app YikYak. For context, I am aware that the app is currently banned on campus Wi-Fi, but I must admit that I, along with so many others of you, have occasionally been known to use the app (for personal context, I deleted YikYak the Wednesday evening all of this went down because it became too intense for me). I wanted to speak very briefly on the issue that sparked debate, the petition to have the College unsubscribe from the New York Times as an institution, but more importantly, on the transphobia that resulted from it. Please try to take this as a moment of education and reflection. 

Articles written, published and promoted by the New York Times have been cited in countless numbers of anti-trans legislation introduced around the country during a terrifying wave of transphobic sentiment overwhelming legislatures everywhere. Are you aware that on the very same Wednesday that campus was busy debating the merits of transphobia on YikYak, the Iowa state legislature passed several anti-trans bills? One of them forces trans students out of their preferred bathrooms and changing rooms — even visitors and parents to the school must conform to this new bathroom fascism. Another one bans gender-affirming healthcare for anyone under the age of 18. Do you really think they are going to be stopping there? 

According to an open letter signed by over 1,200 New York Times contributors, in the past eight months alone, “15,000 words of front-page Times coverage debating the propriety of medical care for trans children” has been published (see for more information and to read the letter itself). I just checked Twitter again — Indiana has just passed a ban of gender-affirming care for those under 18. That makes it the 12th state to do so. Almost 25% of the country is now virtually unlivable for trans youth. If you think I am exaggerating about the “unlivable” part, google the suicide rates for trans youth who do not have access to proper care. I am too devastated at the moment to do it for you. 

After all of this, I have my simple ask of you — please listen to trans people. We are living in a terrifying, hostile state right now, both literally and figuratively. Please be considerate and take the time to educate yourself for the sake of your fellow human beings. We exist too, and we deserve to live our fullest lives. I am tired of being outspoken, I just want to live in peace. 

We exist too, and we deserve to live our fullest lives. I am tired of being outspoken, I just want to live in peace.

I will leave you with this tweet, written by Alejandra Caraballa (@Esqueer), about the gut-wrenching and devastating recent school shooting in Tennessee — 

“Thank god Tennessee protected the children from the so-called horrors of drag and gender affirming care so they can be shot up at school by an AR-15 instead.”

For information on the current anti-trans legislation happening around the country, I recommend a couple folks on Twitter: the independent journalist/activist Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) as well as Harvard Law instructor Alejandra Caraballa (@Esqueer).