Yesterday, President Decatur published a blog post that recognized Transgender Day of Visibility and condemned the recent transphobic attacks on Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dorian Rhea Debussy. We stand by Decatur’s words, and thank him for writing this post. That said, this statement is a month overdue, and there is still more to be done in support of the transgender community at Kenyon and around the nation.
Back in mid-Febuary, Kenyon issued an official statement in support of Debussy’s resignation from their position as an NCAA facilitator, following a change to the association’s transgender policy. After Debussy resigned from their position as an NCAA facilitator, they became the target of severe hate comments. Decatur, in his letter entitled “Fear Will Not Silence Us,” emphasized the College’s support for the trans community, but he failed to outright condemn the transphobia that has been directed towards Debussy and trans individuals around the country.
It took four weeks for the College to issue this initial statement supporting Debussy’s decision — a response that came nearly two weeks after we called on it to do so. During this especially difficult time for Debussy and the trans community at large, it was crucial that the College stood up for its trans community members by speaking out against transphobia and providing supportive outlets for both students and staff.
It is important to contexualize the hate comments directed at Debussy with the nationwide upward trend of transphobia. After the NCAA’s change to its transgender policy following Lia Thomas’ first-place win at the NCAA’s Division I swimming championship, it has become blatantly obvious that transphobia is gaining momentum across social media. Additionally, the Florida Senate recently passed a bill entitled “Don’t Say Gay or Trans,” which will soon head to Gov. Ron DeSantis for approval. In addition to Florida’s bill, more than 290 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across 33 states in 2021, with 140 of them specifically anti-transgender bills.
After the College’s February statement, Unity House hosted a conversation event on March 2 called “Transmisogyny and Effective Allyship,” where they expressed their displeasure with the College’s apathy. Following the conversation, they delivered protest signs and a list of demands to Ransom Hall, urging the College to take concrete and visible steps to condemn transphobia and transmisogyny, which Decatur has since responded to nearly a month later.
The fact that this message took so long is disheartening and was anxiety-provoking for trans community members. We must continue to push the College to act quickly in confronting transphobia and all forms of discrimination. As a school that promotes its ability to embrace people of all backgrounds, Kenyon should have acted sooner than it did.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Jordy Fee-Platt ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, managing editor Amanda Pyne ’22 and executive director Joe Wint ’22. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.