George Fox University updates its trans housing policy to highly problematic standard

George Fox University, the Portland, Oregon school that recently denied transgender student Jayce M. appropriate on-campus housing, updated its housing policy earlier in the week to the dehumanizing and problematic standard of requiring transgender students to undergo bottom surgery if they do not want to face discrimination.

Last week, Jayce made headlines when the Quaker school refused to house Jayce with his male friends because he is transgender. George Fox received an exemption from the Department of Education's Title IX's gender discrimination policy with historically unprecedented speed for so-called religious reasons, though local Quaker pastors and supporters strongly disagreed that discrimination was a virtue of their faith. Faith leaders, friends, family, and other supporters were outraged by the action; and, in response, held a rally on campus protesting the decision in addition to starting an online petition that has received over 20,000 signatures.

In light of the controversy, George Fox has updated its housing policy for trans students to a horrifically offensive standard, ThinkProgress reports. The school ruled that trans students may live on campus with other students of their gender only if they have undergone bottom surgery. This requirement demonstrates a dangerously severe lack of understanding of trans people, echoing the common dehumanizing focus on trans people's genitalia and the highly problematic assumption that gender is defined by genitalia.

Paul Southwick, the lawyer representing Jayce, also expressed much disappointment in the new policy. Southwick told University Herald:

If George Fox University is drawing the line at gender reassignment surgery, that is not the line drawn by state and federal law. Gender identity protections do not extend only to those individuals who can afford, or who are ready, for gender reassignment surgery…And how would George Fox police anatomy?

Indeed, this policy is based on dangerous assumptions about gender that have a long history rooted in our culture and have caused much harm to transgender as well as intersex people. For a more detailed look on what these widespread assumptions are and how and why they cause the severe harm that they do, take a look at GLAAD's blog post on the subject.

To support a change in this problematic policy and support Jayce, you can sign the petition here.