Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Charlotte Trans College Student Harassed, Detained For Using The Bathroom

While I was busy focusing on a developing situation on the WSSU campus in Winston-Salem, just down the road in Charlotte more TBLG injustice has been brewing on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College.

Meet Andraya Williams.  She's a 22 year old student at Central Piedmont Community College who is handling her academic business there.  She has been transitioning since age 18 and started the medical part of it two years ago.  

On March 18 she was exiting the women's restroom and according to an article by QNotes Matt Comer ran into transphobic security officers who detained, disrespected her, informed her she was suspended and escorted her off campus.

CPCC does not have a non-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and Williams and her attorney Sarah Demarest of Charlotte’s LGBTQ Law Center have been trying to resolve the issue since then in the face of intransigent stonewalling by CPCC officials.

“CPCC’s decision to apprehend [Ms. Williams] in the restroom was based on their visual assessment of her gender,” said Demarest in the QNotes interview. “While CPCC is allowed to maintain sex-segregated facilities for male and female students, they decided that Ms. Williams fell outside both categories and treated her differently than other students. Furthermore, the differential treatment occurred in front of other students, highlighting to her peers that she does not conform to gender stereotypes and outing her as transgender.”

Now that this campus transphobia story is getting national and international attention, Central Piedmont Community College comes out with a statement from CPCC Public Information Officer Jeff Lowrance claiming they are trying to 'balance the rights of transgender students with the rights of the rest of the student body.'  

Since when CPCC?   Don't even try to tell that lie. You have no policies that protect the rights of trans, SGL and gender variant students and were in no hurry to enact them until your campus security got caught harassing and disrespecting an African-American trans student. 

Demarest said to QNotes that CPCC needs to review their polices and practices immediately, and I concur with that assessment.

“There are many transgender students who need to know what their rights are and need to know how it is they are supposed to navigate this issue,” said Demarest. “The way CPCC has handled this situation was inadequate and allowed [Williams] to be humiliated and feeling like she was without recourse.”

Demarest also pointed out the school violated her client’s due process rights, CPCC’s actions were unlawful and constitute a violation of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities.   Federal courts, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, she says, have held that unlawful sex discrimination extends to gender stereotyping.

The 2011 Glenn v. Brumby case found that discriminating against someone based on their gender nonconformity is sex based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause 
discriminating against someone on the basis of his or her gender non-conformity constitutes sex-based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause. - See more at:
discriminating against someone on the basis of his or her gender non-conformity constitutes sex-based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause. - See more at:

Williams and Demarest are considering filing a federal civil rights complaint and I hope they do.  I and other trans people of color are sick and tired of being jacked with for going to the bathroom..   

There is a protest being organized by CPCC students outraged over this incident in support of Andraya that will take place Friday, April 4 starting at 11 AM EDT.
We will be holding a protest in response to the treatment of our fellow CPCC student Andraya Williams, who on March 19, was harassed, detained and eventually suspended and denied due process because CPCC staff is insufficiently educated on transgender inclusion. We are protesting to show that intolerance and the violation of student rights is not something we as students believe should be part of our school's values. We welcome community members and other allies to join us to show that we stand behind Andraya Williams and all transgender students at CPCC.
It will take place on the corner of Elizabeth and Kings Streets if you wish to attend.

Will be keeping an eye on this situation as well.

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