Let the Public Debate on Sex and Gender Begin

Let the Public Debate on Sex and Gender Begin

Two thumbs up for President Trump’s sensible decision to reverse the Obama administration’s unprecedented, unlawful edict on transgender students.

Those decrying this decision as discriminatory and oppressive should actually read the letter the Obama administration issued last May if they want to see what discriminatory and oppressive action looks like!  

Institutions like Ave Maria University received this federal directive, with the seals of both the U.S. Department of Justice and Education adorning the masthead, entitled, “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students.”  The communication ominously began that the “guidance” it was providing would be the basis for evaluating whether a university was compliant with their mandated interpretation of Title IX’s provisions dealing with sex discrimination.

The new dogma that demanded adherence? “Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.”  It continues, “Harassment that targets a student based on gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition is harassment based on sex, and the Departments enforce Title IX accordingly.”  Here the Obama administration was threatening any institution that adhered to an interpretation of what for millennia has been the standard for distinguishing between males and females, with the withdrawal of student eligibility for Federal grants and loans.  The message was clear:  share our beliefs or we will shut you down.

For residential colleges like ours, “the Departments” had more “guidance” to dictate.  “A school must allow transgender students to access housing consistent with their gender identity and may not require transgender students to stay in single-occupancy accommodations.”

This heavy-handed approach of the Obama administration was well known to faith-based institutions like ours.  We had been bullied by his administration’s pontifications on matters of religious liberty, human sexuality, and institutional autonomy for eight years.  That’s why we were among the first in Federal Court suing over the Obama mandate on contraceptive services, including abortifacient drugs, and our health insurance plan.

In my opinion, the Obama administration, in its zeal to advance the LGBT agenda, went too far with its transgender directives and the accompanying threats of federal retribution for those not sharing their point of view.  President Trump’s common sense decision to end the Obama administration’s undemocratic policy is welcome relief.  The Trump administration rightfully pointed out the confusion and undemocratic nature of their predecessor’s overreach, and came out on the side of state and local control.  Makes perfect sense to me.  Perhaps now there can be a public discussion about how to balance the rights of a tiny fragment of the U.S. population with the rights of the overwhelming majority, particularly when what is encroached upon touches serious issues where the American people are not even close to a consensus.  Unelected Federal bureaucrats should not be deciding such matters.

Faith-based institutions like ours concur with the LGBT community view that sex is assigned at birth.  At issue is the question of how this “assignment” occurs.  The Judeo-Christian tradition believes that the One who assigns has done so from the beginning of the human race.  “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).”  Embracing this sincerely-held religious belief and traditional anthropology does not make one a bigot or proponent of discrimination.  Faith and reason are in harmony on this point.  

No one on our campus wants to discriminate against transgender students, and this University would not tolerate it.  Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Those words were spoken by Our Lord without qualification.  I am proud of how welcoming the AMU campus environment is.

Let the debate begin in America on sex and gender, and let the voice of the faith-based community be heard like all others.  It will be nice to speak in the public square again and have our voice heard without the threat of Federal retribution hanging over our heads.  Good riddance to the Obama-era letter!