I am writing in response to Donna Hughes’ recent articles and statements about the transgender community.

Dear URI Community,

I am a transgender student at URI, and I am afraid for my future. All around the country right now, states are suddenly proposing legislation that would restrict trans people’s ability to medically transition and ability to exist authentically in spaces such as athletics. So when a faculty member calls into question the validity of trans people to know who we are and spreads lies about us, as a means of encouraging our civil liberties to be taken away, I feel compelled to say something. 

I know who I am. No one, including doctors, convinced me that I am trans. When I came out at 17, my parents were actively unsupportive of my transition, as they continue to be. My doctor at the time was very uneducated about how to best support trans patients. After I came out, she agreed to have me tested for autism at the local psychiatric hospital upon my parents request. My parents likely tried to have me diagnosed with a condition that I do not have in order to keep guardianship of me past age 18 to try and stop me from transitioning. This is just one example of how challenging it is for transgender people to receive the care they need. Many obstacles get in the way of medically transitioning, including unsupportive family and uneducated doctors

My trans community is the reason that I have survived these challenges in my life. My trans friends gave me hand-me-down clothes so that I would have clothes to wear, were the moral support for me when my parents caused me such heartache, and helped me to find trans-inclusive healthcare for the first time in my life. 

I have still not medically transitioned, because I know my parents will no longer support me in any way and will probably stop speaking to me once I do, and I am waiting until I have the financial independence to handle that situation. But knowing that I will be able to medically transition in the future is the one piece of hope I hold onto. My gender dysphoria causes me major amounts of distress and pain every single day of my life. I have been in therapy for over two years with a therapist who is very well-versed in working with the trans community. No amount of therapy will change the fact that I am transgender. But a medical transition will relieve my gender dysphoria and allow me to feel at home in my body. And I deserve to feel at home in my body just as much as any cisgender person. 

A medical transition is not dangerous or experimental, it will save my life. When people spread lies about the safety of a medical transition and try to imply that the trans community is a danger to society, it terrifies me. I am so afraid that I will lose my right to medically transition. I am afraid that I will lose my right to exist in public spaces. 

I am also deeply disturbed at how people stand by and say nothing when these lies are spread about the trans community. At the time when we need the most support, I expect the URI community to do more to stand up for us, protect us, and keep us safe. 

Trans people are beautiful and we deserve to feel safe and supported in all spaces. We deserve to feel safe at URI. 

Sincerely,

A transgender student at URI