What’s Title IX got to do with sexual assault?

1 04 2009

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and at many college campuses nationwide, students will be holding Take Back the Night rallies and other related projects geared towards ending sexual violence.

Title IX was enacted in 1972 and states:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

It laid the foundation for equal opportunity for men and women in education: both in classrooms and in athletics.   It prohibits sex discrimination in any educational programming, activity or event that receives federal funding.  Such examples of sex discrimination include sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence as a whole.

Students who have experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence on their campuses and do not receive adequate assistance, support, and resources from their schools are disadvantaged compared to other students because they have been traumatized and often times re-traumatized after being ignored by their school administrators.

It may be difficult for student survivors of sexual violence to remain in or return to their schools.  Even if they do stay in school they may still have a hard time concentrating, keeping on top of their schoolwork, being involved in extracurriculars and social activities, etc.  They may be re-triggered by certain events, seeing certain faces or going to certain places.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project has teamed up with Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) to combat sexual violence in educational institutions based on Title IX.  They’ve compiled a fact sheet on Title IX and Sexual Assault: Know Your Rights and Your College’s Responsibilities.

From this fact sheet:

A college or university that receives federal funds may be held legally responsible when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities. The school can be held responsible in court whether the harassment is committed by a faculty member, staff, or a student. In some cases, the school must pay the victim money damages.

That means that survivors of sexual assault can sue their colleges or universities in courts for ignoring and/or failing to act on known cases of sexual assault.   Therefore it would make most sense for schools (cough cough, Tufts) to hold perpetrators accountable for committing sexual assault (just a friendly reminder that rape is a felony) and to respond appropriately in compliance with Title IX.

Come on schools (yes, you Tufts!) and stop lagging behind.  Catch up with the law.

“Tranny” Is a Form Of Hate Speech

1 04 2009

Continuing on angryblkfeminist’s subject of offensive words, I’m getting fed up with people (even feminists and liberals) throwing around the word “tranny.”  For those of you who weren’t previously aware, “tranny” is a slur.  The usage of the word has become so normalized in the media and in casual conversation that many people don’t even realize (or care to realize) that the word has negative implications.  But in fact the term is offensive and derogatory.  Queenemily over at Questioning Transphobia put it this way:

See, the word “tranny” gets used with alarming regularity in the media, and I’m not sure it actually registers that it is a slur.  It’s always so jolly, like it’s a whimsical, fun term that cis people can throw around with abandon.  Always with the implication that trans people are laughably pathetic.  Because my identity, our history, of itself is a joke.

What is missing  is that in my personal experience as a trans woman, “tranny” is a form of hate speech.  The last person who called me it literally spat on me.  It’s frequently paired with “faggot”–yet no-one sprays that word liberally around the media.  When someone spits a word at you, the implication is clear– you’re disgusting, barely even human.  And that disgust is worked out violently against the bodies of trans people.

So why do people keep throwing around the word “tranny?”  Some cisgendered people (people whose gender identities match with the socially assigned behavior or role for their sex) might argue that they have heard the word used by some trans people and therefore it is completely okay for cis people to use as well.  But just because an individual trans person chooses to use the word does NOT give cis people the right to “reclaim” the word or throw it around.  Even if you consider yourself an ally, you simply don’t have ownership over the word since you have not been oppressed, harassed, attacked, and discriminated against in the same way that transgendered people have.  

Some cis people may truly just not know that the word is problematic.  I have had many friends tell me that they had no idea that the word was offensive.  Well, now you know.

Here is queenemily’s guide for the word “tranny:”


Did you all get that?  Good.