Letters to the Editor 3/29

| March 28, 2012    

To the Editor,

I am a cisgender woman, and I would like to express my complete horror at what… To the Editor,

I am a cisgender woman, and I would like to express my complete horror at what Mr. Mark Kozlowski has to say about my trans brothers and sisters. In writing a piece which supports Pitt’s anachronistic and ill-thought bathroom policy, Mr. Kozlowski has demonstrated that he may not even understand our trans brothers and sisters as human.

A friend of mine has a birth certificate marked with an F. However, he has lived as a man for the past three years. He takes testosterone. He has a beard. This policy presents a major problem for him because now he is de jour forbidden from one bathroom and de facto forbidden from the other. Mr. Kozlowski and our policymakers want him to have a prohibitively expensive and primitive surgery so he can pee when he’s on campus. And my friend is lucky, because if he hadn’t been born in Pennsylvania, he may not have been able to change the sex on his birth certificate after surgery, like another friend of mine from Ohio, where it is impossible to legally change the sex on a birth certificate.

Letting women pee in the women’s bathroom does not put me at risk for abuse, and Mr. Kozlowski misunderstands the legal system when he suggests that Pitt could be legally liable for that abuse even if it did. Indeed, this policy puts my trans brothers and sisters, who are already disproportionately targeted by sexual and physical assault, at even greater risk.

Cori Frazer

School of Social Work

To the Editor,

Mark Kozlowski tries in the last paragraph of his March 27 column “Pitt’s transgender policy necessary” to convince the reader that he is a trans ally. He does not succeed.

Mr. Kozlowski suggests that a policy allowing students to use the restroom of the gender they identify with will render “the difference between a ladies’ and men’s room meaningless.” This is ridiculous; the goal of students fighting for a new policy is that women will use the ladies’ room and men will use the men’s. He goes on to suggest that this meaninglessness will provide a screen behind which a male attacker could hide if he assaulted a woman in the ladies’ room. Ignoring the fact that policies shouldn’t exist to preemptively defend a university from a charge of “liberal indoctrination,” if a male student attacked another male in a men’s room this afternoon, the University wouldn’t have to account for why they were in the room together, so why should it matter elsewhere?

As for Mr. Kozlowski’s opinion that surgery, which costs as much as two years of tuition and housing at Pitt, is the best way to determine how serious a person is about  gender identity, I would like to state that there is no one — neither Mr. Kozlowski, Pitt’s administrators, nor myself — in the position to offer opinions about how “serious” another person is toward their own gender identity.


Bella Salamone

School of Arts & Sciences

To the Editor,

Mark Kozlowski’s most recent column displays a severe ignorance of the issues transgender people face, and much of it comes off as out-of-touch, alarmist and offensive.

I have a problem with the idea that all transgender people should be restricted to a restroom they don’t feel comfortable in simply because some man somewhere might take advantage of a more progressive policy and use it to hurt somebody. I can find no reference to this ever happening. Transgender people are the ones who have been attacked. Think about it: You’re forcing women to use a restroom full of cismen. Who’s more likely to be attacked?

The most offensive part of Kozlowski’s column was the suggestion that if transgender people were really serious, they would just get sex-reassignment surgery. “No big deal!” he seems to say. “What’s the holdup?” The holdup is that sex reassignment surgery can cost between $15,000 and $25,000. How is an 18 to 22-year-old student supposed to afford this? Many transgender students are already supporting themselves because their families have cut ties. It’s not the University’s business if they’ve had the surgery; its only concern should be for their safety and comfort, however they identify.

Who is Mark Kozlowski, or the University for that matter, to tell them they don’t deserve to feel safe — that they need to have surgery to “demonstrate they’re serious about their … identity?” After the long personal torment many transgender people endure, after their long struggle for self-acceptance, they should have to “demonstrate” absolutely nothing to you.

Eric Langberg

School of Arts & Sciences

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