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Antioch College-Higher Ed Goes Low w Hate Speech: How Will You Support Trans Students Now?

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Dear Antioch President & Community Governance Council members,

We wonder if you're aware of the essay, “The Sacred Androgen: The Transgender Debate”  by Daniel Harris as published by Antioch Review in the Winter 2016 issue. What you may not be aware of is the close similarities it bears to much of the work of the International Eugenics movement and its parallel underpinnings to the propaganda of the Nazi Regime's "Master Race." Higher education has sought to identify, discredit and eliminate fascist influences that perpetuate such ideals that would declare one human life superior to another and that would debase people to the point of encouraging harm against them. 

Sadly, Harris' essay was not an attempt to do the latter.  It serves to further stigmatize trans people and encourage a view that perpetuates harmful ideas, via stereotype and blatant disdain. This is a population who remain underserved, underrepresented and are targeted daily with discrimination and hate crimes--a point Harris downplays in order to suggest that the suicide rate among trans people is due to having created "an internal embargo as psychologically devastating" when they transition; thus he reinforces his premise that trans people are untreated mentally ill people, weak in the face of the culture's influence and thus deserving of disdain. No one needs to connect the dots for you when it comes to speech and violence. 

Today, the Antioch Review editors have chosen to hide behind the all-too common refrain of "free speech." Hate speech is not protected speech. Even if you don't think such statements as "switching one’s gender is a mass delusion" or suggesting that trans women only want to emulate "gold‑digging temptresses," Harris' characterization of the transition process for trans people is utterly abhorrent. Except his words are not relegated to the realm of sensationlist supermarket rags that lie about people for sales. His article has been sent into the world as having been vetted and approved as material worthy of higher education and critical thinking by the Antioch Review. The simplistic categorizations of various fields of study that Harris conflates in order to render his points is mind-numbingly rudimentary at best and, in most instances, completely wrong, doing injustice to a number of disciplines with his efforts. Please do read closely the hate with which Harris describes people and a process with which he is clearly unfamiliar.

Not long ago in the 1950s, Harris would likely have written a similar article on homosexuality that would describe the LGBTQ population as mentally ill, delusional and worse. This is the kind of thinking Harris' essay is on par with--thinking that is disproven and shunned today. Today, Gender Studies is a reputable, advanced field of study throughout academia.  Harris' outmoded, backwards hate speech has not only been supported by Antioch Review; Antioch Review consciously chose to give Harris' hate a platform to sing out from, sharing it widely and using funding from Antioch College to do so--and its editors have thus defended Harris' essay now as necessary to the world of higher education and critical thinking. 

So we ask you now: What will you, as Antioch College's leaders, do to support the community that Harris has vilified?  What will Antioch Review do to give voice and a platform to trans students on campus?  How will Antioch College dissuade their student population from viewing trans students as "delusional" as condoned by Antioch Review and, as Harris suggests, misguided by their own internalized homophobia or abused by parents pushing their confused children to become trans for attention? Please read the piece closely and help us understand why such ideas warrant the support and funding of Antioch College--urgently.

All eyes are on those who serve and guide a large student population in the field of higher education. We're waiting. 




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