Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

As many of you are aware, this week the Trump administration rolled back federal protections for transgender students who have sought to use single-sex facilities that align with their gender identity. In a joint communication, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education formally withdrew statements of policy and guidance formed under the previous administration that interpreted Title IX protections against discrimination on the basis of sex to include gender identity. This week’s statement cites litigation challenging whether the policy aligns with the express language of Title IX, and argues that the states should have a primary role in shaping policy of such importance in the sphere of education.

While this is deeply disappointing as a statement of federal policy, it is important for members of our community to understand that it will make no difference in Barnard’s own policy, nor will it affect the lives of our students here on campus in any practical way. Transgender students and scholars within our community make daily contributions to our lives and are integral to who we are. We believe strongly that all individuals have the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity. Furthermore, under the laws of New York State and New York City, transgender individuals in the Barnard community continue to be protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression and will not be affected by this recent shift in federal policy.

While the Trump Administration’s new policy is a setback in the fight for transgender rights, I believe we must continue to live out the change we seek. Barnard’s own Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote powerfully on this theme just this week in The Huffington Post. When asked repeatedly to respond to those who would challenge her identity, Professor Boylan responds: “I refute them, every day, by getting up and stepping out into the world and by refusing to be defined by any one or any thing other than my own heart.”

The College remains fully committed to the rights and freedoms of every member of our community.

Most sincerely,
Debora Spar