Trans Buddhists Urge Full Affirmation and Support for Trans/GNC Students: A Statement for Compassion and Justice
In schools across North America, transgender and gender-nonconforming students are under attack. At a time of uncertainty surrounding legislative protections for trans people, trans/GNC youth’s right to live openly, visibly, and happily without violence and censure is threatened at the very time when affirmation matters in their development.
At the beginning of this month, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male senior at Virginia’s Gloucester High School in the U.S., leaving the issue of bathroom and locker access within federally funded schools unsettled for the near future. Moreover, this week, LGBTQ youth rallied to protest rising bullying, harassment and violence within Long Island, New York schools. Trans/GNC students in the area reported particularly heinous mistreatment.
In February, Donald Trump rescinded President Obama’s protections for transgender students. By failing to protect the human rights of trans students, the U.S. government says that it is now “open season” for attacks on trans youth. Transgender students across America are reporting a sudden increase in violent attacks in school, bullying, and suspensions for gender non-conforming behavior.
“Protesters threw glitter, blew horns and tried to shout down Professor Jordan Peterson [last] Friday as he spoke about free speech and political correctness at McMaster University,” noted the Toronto Sun. These protests are part of continuing actions by transgender activists to confront Peterson’s transphobic hostilities, a University of Toronto psychology professor, who openly attacks trans and GNC students’ pronoun usages.
Despite his arguable hate speech, Peterson remains on the faculty of his university, shielded by commitments to free speech and academic freedom. These protests in Canada came as trans and GNC students across the nation insisted that their right to access public and in-school accommodations that comport with their gender identity is being ignored, as CBC News reported.
Nor can we forget the pernicious attacks of the now-disgraced conservative, white supremacist firebrand, Milo Yiannopoulos, who brutally targeted, mocked, outed, and harassed a trans student at an event at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “When you have a room full of people that are just laughing at you as if you’re some freak of nature, like you have some kind of mental illness—which is how he described me—it’s like, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it was way too much,” Adelaide Kramer explained to VICE.
In the Saṃyutta Nikāya, the Buddha famously said that, “I do not dispute with the world; rather, it is the world that disputes with me.” His words touch on the manner in which even those who do no harm face malevolence.
In the Karaniya Metta Sutta, the discourse on loving-kindness, the Buddha urges us to “radiate boundless love towards the entire world—above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.”
Trans Buddhists take these commitments by the Buddha seriously, and we urge compassion and justice for trans/GNC youth in North America and all over the world.
Nothing less than full visibility, full affirmation, full equality, and full acceptance will do for our youth. This includes access to public accommodations that comport with youth’s expressed gender identity and freedom from hate speech, harassment, bullying, and violence.
We stand resolute in our embrace of a world that radiates boundless love. May blessings rise up and justice rain down as we join with allies across the world to protect trans youth!