Sep 20, 2007
Gender Identity or Expression at the University of Michigan
Well, after years of effort and pressure, it looks like the Regents of the University of Michigan will vote today to finally amend the University’s bylaws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression (see President Mary Sue Coleman's motion here).
This is something I, and many other activists, have worked on for a long time. It was something that was first brought to the administration’s attention over 10 years ago by a friend of mine, Jim Toy and an ally our movement knows well, Sandra Cole. In 2004, the year I started law school here, the administration assigned to the Provost’s office the task of measuring the climate for the TBLG community on campus and making recommendations as to how best improve it. The task force was headed by another friend of mine and professor at the law school, Bruce Frier. The task force’s first recommendation, when its report was published later that year was that bylaw 14.06 be modified to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Although the University adopted many other of the recommendations, the Regents refused to adopt that first one.
Over the 3 years that I was in law school, I lobbied the Regents heavily for this change (including public speaking, marches and protests on campus, and private meetings with individual Regents). Today, they will finally vote on the amendment and I’m told it will pass. I was contacted by the Administration and asked to be present for the vote and to be prepared to make some remarks.
I know that, in the scheme of all that is going on around the country and the slow progress we are making, this isn’t a momentous occasion. Nevertheless, a lot of people worked to make this University a safe place for all people, regardless of their gender identity or how they express that identity. Today, we will take an important step in that direction, and I wanted to share it with you.
[UPDATE] The measure passed 5-2 (with the one missing Regent submitting a letter into the record indicating (eloquently, I might add) his strong endorsement of the amendment). It was a pleasure and an honor for me to be there for the vote. The Regents were all very gracious to me and many thanked me (and other activists present) personally.