Dear Breitbart News: I challenge your transphobia

Kiera McGee, Opinions Editor

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Last week, Tom Ciccotta ’17 was removed from his position as President of the Class of 2017 with only 10 days left in the semester. When he questioned Bucknell Student Government (BSG) President Mark Merino ’17 about his removal, he was told that it was due to the fact that he missed four mandatory meetings out of 79 that took place over the course of the semester. Breitbart News Network covered the story, purporting that the removal was controversial because it was a violation of the student government constitution and a public punishment for organizing conservative events on campus.

Honestly, I cannot speak to the veracity of these claims⎼I have not spoken to anyone involved in the situation and I am not knowledgeable about the school’s policies regarding absences from BSG meetings. However, I take serious issue with a particular sentence of the Breitbart News Network article in which Allum Bokhari writes, “Merino’s emailed response contained a signature listing his preferred “gender pronouns” as “he/his/him,” a popular device used by members of the radical identitarian left who believe that one’s gender can be chosen or changed.”

For someone who is fighting an alleged violation of the right to free speech, the oppressive and derogatory attitude exhibited in this paragraph is astounding. Illustrating the importance of gender identity is not a ‘popular device,’ but a life­saving one. Gender is a social construct meant to confine people to vague and meaningless roles, put in place only to uphold the notion of the patriarchy by suppressing free will. I often wonder why the conservative right struggles so profoundly to accept and embrace transgender individuals. The complete lack of empathy for the incredibly onerous burden that weighs on them is disturbing to say the least. I cannot imagine what it would be like to feel trapped in my own body, afraid to express my true identity for fear of being ostracized.

I respect the fact that the right wing disagrees with liberal politics and policy­making. I consider myself to be open-­minded and understanding of divergent points of view. What I cannot tolerate are personal attacks on people’s identities. Children and teenagers are being persecuted and physically and sexually abused for who they are. An alarming number of transgender people attempt to end their lives after being harassed and tormented for their very selfhood. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being transgender; the issue lies in how society treats transgender individuals.  We need to stop torturing and killing our youth. It’s 2016⎼open your eyes.

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