Drop eviction charges against your first trans scholar at Cornell for protesting transphobia.
This petition had 1,705 supporters
I was served eviction papers today by the Telluride Association for legally protesting against the transphobia and retaliation I experienced at my co-op, where I receive a room and board scholarship that helps me pay for school. I've been informed that a group of fellow housemembers feel unsafe because of my presence, and the Association is protecting those members even though they refused to protect me when I complained of transphobic abuse. Though the association refuses to name those who complained against me, I strongly suspect that at least some of those students were part of a group that retaliated against me for complaining by putting me up for eviction when I refused to submit to an anonymous peer-evaluation process that would have subjected me to victim-blaming, and removed my posting privileges in a democractic community blog that I created for the House when I tried to discuss my case. The administration decided that my own complaints of retaliation have no basis without getting feedback from me, and decided that I am suspended for protesting without speaking to me first or giving me notice.
Recent events like the suicide of Leelah Alcorn and the murders of numerous trans women of color highlight how much people like me are under attack both psychologically and physically because of transphobia. The administration's silence, denial, and refusal to help me in this situation highlights how trans women like me end up in emotionally vulnerable positions that undermine both our physical and psychological well-being. Please help me fight not only for my rights but the rights of trans people everywhere to live lives of peace and dignity.
I first started this petition in October 2014 when I was displaced from my co-op because Telluride Association refused to remove my transphobic violator even though I experienced major panic attacks due to their abusive comments and disregard for my safety. In early December 2014, a small faction of housemembers including my violator engaged in retaliatory actions against me, and my involvement in legal protest actions against this group caused the Association to immediately suspend me from the House pending an investigation. When I refused to leave, the Administration threatened to go to court to start eviction proceedings against me.
This faction supported an anonymous evaluation system that would have left me open to victim-blaming, put me up for a vote of eviction when I refused to comply, then took down my post and removed my posting access from our community blog when I wrote about my situation. Over dinner after these retaliations, I tried to talk about my situation with my friends when this group at the other end of the table talked and laughed over me, which led to me and my friends spontaneously chanting "This is what democracy looks like!" and pounding our fists on the table, and a couple of my friends shouting at members of the faction to leave when they continued to try to talk over me. Less than 72 hours later, I received notice that I was suspended from the House under investigation of "bullying," and the administration replaced our community blog with their own promotional page.
So far, no action has been taken against my retaliators including my original violator even though I'm under threat of eviction. I've been given a notice to quit the premises and the association can now go to court to begin eviction proceedings against me. Please continue to sign and share this petition to urge Telluride Association not to kick me out of my house for protesting against transphobia.
My name is Meredith Talusan. I am a writer, artist, and scholar. I am a first-generation Filipino immigrant who did my undergrad at Harvard University and am now a graduate student in literature at Cornell University. I have been forced out of my home because I am transgender.
I live at Telluride House, a co-op where students at Cornell apply to receive room and board scholarships. Alumni and faculty guests of the House have included Michel Foucault, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Gayatri Spivak, people who have devoted their careers fighting for minorities and the disadvantaged, as well as other distinguished alumni and guests such as Richard Feynman, Linus Pauling, and Allan Bloom. After two previous years of devoted service where I have received glowing recommendations from my peers and had been elected president of the house, I decided to disclose my transgender status this year, making me the house’s first and only openly transgender member.
For the past two months, I endured a pattern of harassment from another member of the House because of my gender identity. This person, who I will call X, repeatedly questioned me about why I make “such a big deal” about being transgender. X also referred to me as “a man dressed as a woman” and told me directly, “You lost your dick.” X also threatened my personal safety by inviting overnight guests through Couchsurfing.org without anyone’s knowledge, a particularly difficult situation for a trans woman who has been repeatedly exposed to threats of violence, and who’s had the recent experience of people going to extremes to try to have access to me. Even after being confronted and told the behavior was not acceptable, X hosted another guest and guaranteed the guest was not from the site, and that X would be with him at all times. I subsequently found out that the guest left a review for X on the site where they are listed as “couchsurfing friends,” and X gave that guest a key to the house.
These behaviors made me feel extremely unsafe and I experienced panic attacks because of X’s presence. I asked both my fellow housemembers and the Telluride Association, the organization that runs the house, for assistance. The Telluride Association, after receiving feedback from the housemembers, agreed that X had engaged in wrongful actions and must undergo sensitivity training to assure that they can be a functioning member of the house. I also asked that X be removed from the premises until then, so I can feel assured of my safety. Instead, they decided that X can remain in the House and live with me, regardless of my fear that X will continue to harass me and disregard my personal safety.
This situation has forced me to leave the House out of fear for my psychological and personal safety, while my violator gets to stay. It has made me feel that people would prefer to protect someone who violated me, rather than to protect me. It has made me fall behind on my schoolwork and endure severe emotional stress, on top of the stress I already feel from being harassed and having my personal safety threatened. It has caused a severe disruption of my life and my finances. I do not feel that the Telluride Association has taken my needs seriously, even though they have an explicit policy that excludes discrimination based on gender identity. I feel that they are discriminating against me for being transgender, while they are protecting the person who has harassed me and threatened my personal safety. It is clear to me that if, for example, X were male and I were a non-trans female being harassed, they would handle this situation very differently.
I do not think of myself as deserving special treatment because I’ve received a privileged education. I only want to point out that transgender people’s basic rights need to be protected, and this situation has shown that any trans person, even one who has had a distinguished record as a scholar, writer, and housemember, can at any moment have our lives turned upside down simply for being who we are. Unexpectedly, I have now become one of the many transgender people who have been displaced from our homes because of our gender expression, as I already face the risk of violence associated with being a transgender woman of color.
If you feel that the Telluride Association is wrong in their decision, I ask you to please sign this petition to make them aware of their severe misjudgment. The petition asks the association to reverse their decision and remove my violator from the house so that I can live there again. It also asks them to issue a public apology, to compensate me for the expenses I have incurred by being forced to leave my home, and to draft rules guaranteeing that no one else in the future would be put in my position. I make this appeal not just for myself, but for the sake of future members of the house, as well as the basic rights of transgender people and other disadvantaged minorities.
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Meredith Ramirez Talusan needs your help with “Drop eviction charges against your first trans scholar at Cornell for protesting transphobia.”. Join Meredith and 1,704 supporters today.