Letter to the Editor | UI lacks proper conduct toward transgender students

By Megan Spillane

With society becoming more accepting of transgender and non-binary individuals, all universities need to become just as accepting and supportive of their students. I am writing to address a recent article: Transgender students say UI failed to address concerns about dead-naming all year, not just during graduation. As a new graduate student beginning their master’s program at the School of Social Work, this issue is extremely important to me as it relates to social justice and equality for all.

Our six core values in the social work profession are as follows: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. While reading The Daily Illini article on this matter, I noted several core values that were violated such as social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.

Regarding social justice, which is the right for all individuals to experience equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities, the University blatantly disregarded their transgender and non-binary students’ rights by using their dead-name instead of their preferred name at graduation, one of their biggest accomplishments. This not only invalidates their right to social justice but also their dignity and worth of the person.

When transgender and non-binary individuals decide to openly express their preferred identity, they are letting their guard down and become vulnerable and susceptible to social ostracism. By not allowing them to graduate with their preferred name, it undermines the transition they went through or are currently going through which in turn does not support their dignity nor worth of person. As a school that is highly ranked, one would think that they respect and value their relationships with their transgender and non-binary student body; however, by reading this DI article, it appears that the University and some professors overlook the value of their students, affecting both their integrity and competence.

When it comes to educating young adults, it should be assumed that most, if not all, professors acquire the traits of integrity and competence to provide a healthy and supportive classroom for all students. This DI article sheds light on an important issue that recently occurred at the University, however, I believe it is only just the beginning of opening a discourse on creating an equal and safe environment for all LGBTQ+ individuals.

Megan is a graduate student in Social Work.

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