In Support of Our and All Trans Communities: Statement From President Nelson

What does it mean to be human? As a humanist and college president, I found the news that the administration seeks to roll back federal protections for transgender people abhorrent. Classifying a human being by their genitalia is the very definition of anti-human. As a scientist, I see the justification as preposterous. One phrase, in particular, jumped out at me: immutable biological traits, as in, as the memo states, defining “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits.”

Every living organism on Earth, every plant and animal, is mutable by nature. In fact, it is through our very mutability — our ability to change and evolve — that we differ, by a hair’s breadth, from our closest animal relatives.

Biology is not immutable. But ideological orthodoxy is. To understand the dangers of justifying repressive ideologies with “science,” look only to the historical justifications for slavery, eugenics, and forced sterilizations. This is a pernicious use of knowledge, and an anathema not only to social justice but also to common sense.

At Hampshire we are thinkers, scholars, and often activists. But, above all, we are human beings who believe in self-determination. With every word we breathe and write, we reject the incorrect and retrograde views in this unconscionable proposal, and we support our Trans community members and LGBTQ communities — and all LGBTQ people everywhere — in their quest to form identities that are authentic to who they are as human beings.

Miriam E. Nelson, President