CAPPA STATEMENT ON THE RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER AND GENDER DIVERSE STUDENTS
Access letter in PDF format here.
March 10, 2017
The Campus Advocacy and Prevention Professionals Association (CAPPA) was founded in 2015 to provide space for campus-based advocates and prevention specialists to come together to share their expertise, develop best practices, and support each other as professionals in the field. CAPPA envisions campuses free from all forms of interpersonal and gender-based violence, including dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, and stalking.
On February 22, 2017, the US Departments of Education and Justice announced the withdrawalof the 2016 Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students. While this withdrawal does not change that Title IX applies to transgender and gender diverse students, CAPPA’s Leadership Council and over 400 members who work on and with college and university campuses across the United States know this is a critical time to affirm our commitment that creating safer and more supportive campuses for transgender and gender diverse students is essential to ending gender-based violence.
Transgender and gender diverse people face disproportionate violence. The 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Surveyfound that 47% of respondents had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime with 10% having been sexually assaulted in the past year. More than half (54%) had experienced intimate partner violence, with 24% having experienced severe physical violence. Nearly one fourth (24%) of people who are out as or perceived as transgender in college have been verbally, sexually, or physically harassed because of their identity. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)indicates that transgender women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence than cisgender women survivors and the majority of hate violence homicide victims (72%) in 2013 were transgender women and 53% of LGBTQ hate crime victims were people of color.
Interpersonal violence against transgender and gender diverse people does not occur in a vacuum but, like all violence, is the product of societal oppression. The falsehood that transgender and gender diverse people are seeking access to restrooms in order to harass people or commit sexual violence distracts from our critical work to end sexual violence on our campuses and in our communities. This perpetuates two myths: the myth that transgender and gender diverse people are disproportionately perpetrators of assault when in fact they are disproportionately at risk for victimization and the myth that campus sexual assault is most commonly perpetrated by a stranger behind the bushes or in a restroom when in fact 90% of campus sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim/survivor. Perpetuating these myths and falsehoods also reinforcesthe rigid gender roles and oppression that actually lead to violence. As professionals dedicated to ending violence, we are adamantly opposed to laws and policies that further stigmatize transgender and gender diverse people. It is essential that our movement continues to advocate for structural changes that will promote safer and healthier communities through gender equity, including protections for transgender, genderqueer, gender-nonconforming, and questioning people.
We also value and support our transgender and gender diverse colleagues who work to end violence while facing discrimination, harassment, and institutionalized oppression within the institutions they serve. We hope for the same protections and easily navigable systems for our colleagues that we want for our students. Services and prevention programs for sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking survivors have often reinforced the same rigid gender binaries that we know harm everyone especially transgender and gender diverse people. The gender-based violence field must continue to foster leaders who center equity for all genders in our work.
While this guidance withdrawal is disheartening, it is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitments. The following actions are possibilities to do so:
Continue to advocate for best practices, including those provided by the Department of Education in 2016. Federal guidelines are not a ceiling, but a floor. For members wanting more information on the implications of the rescinding of this guidance, we recommend this FAQ from the National Center on Transgender Equality.
Remain dedicated to ending harmful stereotypes against transgender and gender diverse people by providing accurate facts and statistics about sexual violence perpetration and victimization. Now is an important time to center transgender people, who face such a disproportionate amount of sexual violence and have often not been served or have been harmed by the binary division of sexual violence-related services. In addition, it is important to continue to raise awareness that most perpetrators are intimate partners, family members, and acquaintances--not people hiding in bathrooms.
Remind our colleagues and leadership that this guidance withdrawal does not overturn all protections of transgender students. This position statement on Title IX, gender equity, and gender expression from the Association of Title IX Administrators may also be relevant when interfacing with campus administrators.
Partner with our colleagues in campus and local LGBTQ Centers.
A significant number of our members serve in advocacy roles, and one in five LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence seek help from service providers. We must strive to be the safest possible spaces for transgender survivors to land. FORGEis an excellent resource for more information on how to do so, as is the Network of Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse.
Until all levels of our social ecology, including public policy, create affirming environments for students of all gender identities and provide clear protections for transgender and gender diverse people, we must continue to strive for an end to violence through working for social justice.
This statement was approved by the CAPPA Leadership Council on March 10, 2017 after feedback from members:
Marianne Frapwell & Shannon Collins, Co-Facilitators
LB Klein & Shana Ware, Professional Standards Co-Chairs
Connie Adams & Drew Rizzo, Networking Co-Chairs
Wanda Swan & Kelly Wilt, Communications Co-Chairs
Meg Bossong & Casey Malsam, Training Co-Chairs
Jill Dunlap & Marina Wood, Research & Practice Co-Chairs
Lee Helmken, Membership Chair
Meg Bossong, co-chair, Professional Standards and Legislative Advocacy Committee
Source: Campus Advocacy and Prevention Professionals Association