The University of Houston-Clear Lake hosted its first annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event Nov. 19 to pay respect to those in the transgender community who are proud of who they are.
Over the years members of the transgender community have had little to no rights when it came to discrimination. UHCL and other colleges and universities across the state are currently working on adding a new clause named “gender expression and gender identity” to their current nondiscrimination policy.
Schools in Texas would like to add the “gender expression and gender identity” clause, but some are confronted with resistance in their efforts to do so, while some schools have the clause already in place. On July 23, 2009, colleges and universities met to discuss adding the policy to schools, during the first Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit.
“Putting gender identity and expression on the policy does not prevent discrimination,” said Josephine Tittsworth former co-chair of the Houston Transgender Unity Committee. “But it puts it out there that the university will not tolerate it.”
Julie Smith, coordinator of women’s and LGBT services, hosted the event in the Garden Room in the Bayou Building. There were three keynote speakers: Lily Roddy, Lou Weaver, and Andrea.
Lily is a transwoman who serves as board president for the Transgender Foundation of America, secretary for Houston Transgender Unity Committee, and board member of the Community Advisory Board for the Trangender Center while promoting awareness politically and socially. During her time at the podium, she expressed the struggles of coming out to the world.
“When I told my family, that was the last time I saw them,” Lily said.
Lou is a transman who began his transition two years ago; he is currently the president of the Community Advisory Board. Lou feels his change has benefited him but says, “Everyday I face a little bit of prejudice, judgment and acceptance.”
Andrea is a transwoman who spoke about the difficulties she would face at work if she were to openly come out and share with her employers how she really wants to be addressed. She has to portray an image at work as a guy because she fears the repercussion of losing her job or being demoted from her high-ranking position. To help protect her identity, she keeps her last name a secret.
“I want people to learn this is a problem for all of us,” said Julie Smith, coordinator of women’s and LGBT services. “Our hope is to educate people.”
Currently UHCL and the University of Houston are taking steps to implement the “gender expression and gender identity” clause on campus, and will have their next board meeting February 2010 with the chancellor and the university Board of Trustees.