Transphobia on campus cannot be ignored any longer
Bigotry at MCCC is blatantly disregarded

I assumed there would be another batch of protesters at this Board of Trustees meeting. I expected a new round of foolishness and asinine arguments. I genuinely expected to sit back and listen to protester after protester cry about their self-victimization and supposed threatened safety caused by a trans person in the same bathroom as them. 

What I saw, though, were students and staff pouring their hearts out in front of the board. There were no arguments. No verbal devolution and no words toward dehumanization.

Mick Valentino

This meeting took place on Feb. 26, which was about a month after the first public circus of a Board of Trustees meeting. Unlike the previous meeting, the room was not filled with protesters trying to bastardize the transgender community.

To me, there was an air of disinterest the whole meeting. An air of disinterest during a moment of passion and bravery and genuine pride from students who just want to exist in peace. Students who want to feel safe on their campus. Students who are caught up in an argument that shouldn’t exist.

Instead of arguments and protests, there was a call for safety. A call for the better treatment of gender diverse students facing a backlash that they should have never faced. It was a plea for support.

And to my surprise, the plea was answered– yet it was answered with law. When speaking on the discrimination students faced on campus, Kojo Quartey, president of our college, brought up the Elliott-Larsen Act. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in Michigan, including discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

“As a public institution, let me make this clear, we cannot circumvent or disregard the law,” Quartey said. “The Elliott-Larsen Act is clear.”

This act of support is the law, our president said. But if it wasn’t the law, where would we be? If this protection against discrimination wasn’t legally mandatory, would there still be protection at all?

What if we could just show unwavering support for the marginalized community under attack?  What if, law or not, we stood up for the students who just want to feel safe? What if we bypassed the safety of claiming legality and bravely advocated for acceptance and equality? 

I would like to know why the blatant transphobia on our campus has not been called out. Why haven’t we used the word that explains what’s happening here in our bathrooms and on campus? This is transphobia. This has been a transphobic attack on the students of this college. 

The email Quartey sent on Feb. 29 regarding the affirmation of everyone was a good start, I suppose. But it wasn’t specifically for the students under attack. It wasn’t a public show of support for the people who needed to hear it. It felt disingenuous and performative. I want to know what comes next, though. Is that where the support stops? I’ve been told that actions speak louder than words and I want to know why actual action hasn’t happened. 

If there’s a real, actual need to make the students feel safe and welcome, then don’t appease the protesters. Don’t listen to their arguments and entertain their fears that aren’t based in reality. Don’t fan the fire of misinformation and mindlessness. 

We need to stand up against those who refuse to move forward and we need to advocate for our gender-diverse community members. I want a clear show of support specifically for the LGBTQ+ people on campus. It’s quite straightforward. Silence is compliance, and I haven’t heard a word of support toward those who are affected by this mess. 

“I am not your enemy and I don’t think we’re each other’s enemy,” Quartey said.

You’re right. We’re not enemies. There are no enemies here in this battle for progression and equality. There’s only victims and aggressors. And if you’re conciliating the aggressors, you’ve become one.