Transgender professor identifies how legislation hurts the trans community
Dr. Loren Cannon, an award-winning HSU philosophy professor with numerous published essays, presented a talk focused on trans-directed injustice to a room overflowing with students and community members on Thursday, Feb. 7.
HSU students Elijah Patterson and Summer Gilstrap, who identify as trans, were inspired by Cannon’s experience and wanted to show their support.
“[Cannon’s] a successful, fully transitioned male and it’s a goal [for me],” Patterson said.
Cannon believes the Obama administration had an understanding of Title IX, a law that protects people from being sexually discriminated against, which he said the Trump administration does not.
“Title IX should be interpreted how the Obama administration did,”Cannon said. “They did it correctly.”
“It’s a blatant attack against trans people. They’re not interested in protecting people.”
Gilstrap, a political science major who identifies as a trans woman, agrees that the Trump administration is silencing trans people, not allowing them to be heard.
“It’s a blatant attack against trans people,” Gilstrap said.. “They’re not interested in protecting people.”
After showing “Keeping Massachusetts Safe,” a commercial made to inflict fear that trans people will assault cisgender people in restrooms, Cannon shared a story where he found himself in a similar situation.
A couple months into transitioning, while teaching at Arizona State University, Cannon went to use the restroom, not knowing two little girls were in the stall next to him. A woman ran out alerting the girl’s fathers that a man, Cannon, was in the restroom. Cannon, gender ambiguous looking at the time, tried to look as womanly as possible, smiling as he exited.
“I preformed femaleness well, so I didn’t get hurt, but the option isn’t always there,” Cannon said.
Some people eventually choose not to go out because they can’t participate in society because they’re prohibited from using restrooms due to their gender identity. Cannon found studies showed trans people are likely to develop PTSD due to fear of bathrooms, which can lead to urinary tract infections.
“A lot of other trans people have debilitating dysphoria around restrooms that can cause real psychological harm,” Gilstrap said.
In response to a student asking how HSU can improve the safety of trans lives, Cannon said gender neutral bathrooms on the BSS side of campus is needed, as well as a LGBTQ+ center funded by professionals as a permanent position so administration can be there to advocate for LGBTQ+ people.
“There’s still a lot of things trans folks that are affected by. We just want to be respected as people.”
While HSU has made improvements like allowing students to change their preferred name and pronouns in their student center, there are still improvements that can be made. Neesh Wells, a non-binary-identifying student, wants others to know that they don’t have to be afraid of trans folks or non-binary people.
“There’s still a lot of things trans folks that are affected by,” Wells said. “We just want to be respected as people.”
Offering classes that bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community more often in course rotations may help people from outside the community gain more knowledge about people within the community and the struggles they face.
“I personally think it’s super important to continue involving folks who don’t identify as cis gender,” Wells said.
Maral Attallah, who planned the event, pointed out that Lisa Bond-Maupin, the College of Arts and Humanities dean, was the only faculty member to attend the talk. Attallah, like many other supporters, highlighted the importance of representation and support from allies outside of the community to help advocate for issues the LGBTQ+ community faces.
Having representation is important for groups who don’t always feel welcomed. Giving Cannon a platform to share his stories and knowledge allows others to use that safe space to share their own thoughts and experiences.
“It’s inspiring to see someone be successful, who I can relate to,” Patterson said.