‘We want to feel included’

Students open up about life as transgender

The light blue, light pink and white flag represents being transgender.

Elizabeth Hanson

The light blue, light pink and white flag represents being transgender.

Story by Brenna Thompson, New Assistant

LGBTQ policy formation has been at the center of controversial issues across the nation in recent years, with a typical divide between far-right conservatives and far-left liberals. Kansas as a state tends to fall into the more conservative beliefs, which can have serious negative and marginalizing impacts on the LGBTQ community and their allies.

In a statement released in early March, the Kansas Republican party has decided to “oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity.” The party has since released explanation, stating it will follow and align with gendered beliefs and values based on biology rather than self-perception.

The implications of this statement means that Kansas government officials will not side with the transgender community, but rather stand against them.

Baker, as a private university, is sheltered from the unacceptance and lack of policy in support of LGBTQ citizens. However, this doesn’t mean the statement doesn’t hurt, scare or create discomfort and fear in those who represent and are inclusive of the LGBTQ community.

Junior Blythe Smith, who is openly transgender, said “it’s taking the easy way out, instead of discussing the issues [surrounding transgender people]; it’s dismissing it all together.”

Although Smith understands religious freedom, this is no longer considered to fall under religious freedom.

“By speaking their mind they are harming every LGBTQ person in Kansas,” Smith said. “It breaks up the community because people are afraid to gather. We are afraid to come together and fight this.”

Junior Jessica Watson is also openly transgender and said it is not surprising that a conservative Christian state has released such a statement.

Yet Watson said it really isn’t Christianity. A state shouldn’t get to decide who to judge or isolate, yet that is exactly what they are doing.

“It’s not love, its judgement- hatred filled opinions and personal judgement,” Watson said.

Unfortunately the unacceptance and stigma associated with LGBTQ persons are only exacerbated by statements such as the opposing efforts of transgender validation. Smith said these statements create such fear that many refuse to come out completely.

“Although Baker’s environment is set up to promote acceptance, each student needs to gear toward behaving in similar ways,” Moses said. “We want to feel included.”

Smith said that especially now that Kansas doesn’t recognize any kind of protections for LGBTQ people, they can’t be out safely. Smith said people may think such statements are ‘no big deal’, however, even if no policy follows, the Kansas government is essentially giving the green light for marginalization, stigmatization and discrimination of the entire LGBTQ minority.

“It’s really frustrating,” Smith said. “The United States and Kansas specifically were making progress, and now this dump truck happened.”

Smith said there is always the constant worry that someone will get upset about who they are, and they get hurt because of it.

“There is the fear for me, but also for my friends,” Smith said. “I hope gay people, trans people and allies will stand up and voice ‘this is wrong.’”