HENDRICK XIONG-CALMES ’22
I’ll be frank. In my senior year of high school, I did a debate on whether or not we should still have Title IX as a part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972; afterwards, I still did not know what Title IX pertained to. But, I’ve educated myself on what Title IX pertains to, and I would very much like to share what I’ve learned.
Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This protects people from discrimination in the field of discrimination, but from the seventies, the amendment has metamorphosed in drastic ways.
Recently, there was an event on campus by the name “Why has Title IX Become so Controversial?” hosted by Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics at Boston College and co-chair of the Harvard Program on Constitutional Government. The event looked at why Title IX has become so controversial in recent years, and what Title IX pertains to now, and what it pertained to in the past. This talk is especially prevalent at the Trinity College campus, given the prominent presence of athletics and the current buzz around sexual misconduct given the Kavanaugh hearings and the #MeToo movement.
Title IX was originally implemented as a follow-up passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, seeing as the 1964 Act allowed gender discrimination against people in the context of education institutions. For instance, say a girl were receiving a lower letter grade for the same work that was handed in by a male student, solely because of her gender. This would be in violation of Title IX seeing as the girl was being discriminated against due to her gender identity. While it simply does not make sense to the general public, this is precisely why Title IX was enacted – we do not want one gender receiving advantage over another solely due to identity.
Where Title IX becomes muddied and controversial is in the context of the Obama administration. Obama 2016 administration mandated that Title IX protections would extend to trans individuals, and that Title IX’s pertinence to sexual misconduct would extend. This was to no avail, seeing as it was rescinded by the Trump administration. It was stated under the Obama administration that under Title IX, “a recipient generally must treat transgender, or gender non-conforming, consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.” This was countered by Betsy DeVos in February 2018 that Title IX did not allow trans students to use the bathroom of their gender identities.
While this rescindense by Betsy DeVos does show a lack of comprehension of the sociology of gender, these are elected officials who have revised a progressive law to make it unprogressive. While this is a slap in the face to trans individuals, gender non-conforming individuals, and their allies, this is the way that the law has been constructed at this time. While sexual misconduct is one battlefield that is being hard fought for, and being brought to the foreground by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and the Kavanaugh hearings, queer and trans activists are battling for Title IX to extend to the rights of trans individuals. Whether or not you are an ally to the trans community, the talk around sexual misconduct and the trans community is the biggest reasoning as to why Title IX has become so controversial in recent years.