Letter to Alex M. Azar on Transgender Rights
Date: November 7, 2018
To: The Honorable Alex M. Azar, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
From: NYU President Andrew Hamilton
Dear Secretary Azar:
On behalf of the New York University (NYU) Community, I am writing about recent reports that the Trump Administration is contemplating a policy change that would reinterpret existing laws until Title IX to narrowly define gender as a biological and immutable condition determined at birth. This would reverse federal recognition of and protections for transgender people under civil rights law and could impact their access to health care and public facilities, as well as impair their ability to obtain identification documents.
NYU is greatly concerned by the reports. Our University stands with those students, faculty, and staff -- and the many, many others throughout the country -- who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex. The protections that currently exist help ensure these members of our community are treated with respect, dignity, and thoughtfulness. Moreover, none of the reasons typically raised for withdrawing protections from transgender persons have, in fact, presented themselves on our campus.
Diversity and inclusion have long been core principles at NYU and, more broadly, throughout the higher education community. At NYU, we will continue to vigorously enforce our campus non-discrimination policy, which prohibits discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of gender identity and expression, consistent with New York City and State Law and our core institutional values. This includes prohibiting discrimination against transgender students in all aspects of campus life, from housing to classrooms to extracurricular activities to restroom access.
The bottom line is that these protections have worked, protecting transgender and gender non- binary individuals without a negative impact and according transgender individuals the dignity and sense of belonging they deserve. Maintaining these protections is good for America, as transgender college graduates have gone on to be leaders in business, the arts, higher education, and science, contributing to our country’s overall economic productivity and its cultural life.
Our community will be closely following developments within the administration that would roll back these essential civil rights protections. Transgender people are our classmates, colleagues, family members, and friends. Therefore, we urge the Trump Administration to abandon this ill- advised policy and work toward equality in federal law for all transgender people.
Thank you for your consideration.