They are killing us, and you are doing nothing

Leo Levine

Last Friday, March 31, was the 24th annual Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV), a day recognized by the Trans community and our allies that celebrates the visible surviving and thriving members of our community. One of the most meaningful parts of TDoV, for me, is revisiting the stories of Trans elders who have survived to the present moment. Old and happy Trans people are a rare sight and a lifeline to young Trans people attempting to navigate a world that is increasingly hostile. 

Since the beginning of the 2023 legislative session, over 400 pieces of anti-Trans legislation have been introduced in 47 states, including Massachusetts. This legislation has already caused and will continue to cause irrevocable harm to the civil rights and social mobility of Trans people in this country. 

Twenty-seven of these bills have passed despite impassioned testimony against them from countless Trans adults, children, and allies. The first of these bills targeted Trans children’s right to come out on their own terms as in Arizona SB1001, and their access to gender-affirming care as in Georgia HB 653. Recent bills have gone further by targeting Trans people’s access to adequate healthcare  and correct identifying documents as in Florida HB 1421, as well as criminalizing their presence in public spaces like bathrooms as in Florida SB 1674. Many contain language reminiscent of legislation that past civil rights movements fought to overturn.

Those introducing and supporting this legislation have made various claims to justify their actions, principally the protection of children as seen in the naming of bills like Missouri SB 49, titled  “Missouri Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act.” In reality, the introduction of these bills threatens to decrease quality of life for Trans children, forcing some families to relocate to safer states out of fear.  The hypocritical logic employed by supporters of this legislation has made it clear that these bills are nothing other than a deliberate attempt to make Trans people of all ages the target of extermination.  

The goal of extermination is readily seen in the words of Michael Knowles, a speaker at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, which was held March 1-4. Knowles stated, in an address that was later widely circulated online, that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” Make no mistake, this statement is a rallying cry for genocide. 

There has yet to be a response, public statement, or other indication of material support for Trans students from the Davis Center, the dean’s office, or the president’s office in light of recent anti-Trans legislation and social currents. This legislation and its supporters are attempting to exterminate Trans people, and both the culture of the College and its institutions have failed to adequately respond. In doing so, they have failed to affirm the value of Trans life and the belonging of Trans people in the College community. 

This past TDoV, it became clear to me that I and my Trans siblings are not seen, understood, or supported by the majority of the College community in any significant way. This is not unique to the experience of Trans students at the College; students of all marginalized identities and experiences both on and off campus lack much of the support they need and deserve. However, of the many communities that exist on campus, the population of Trans students is one of the least supported and presently in some of the most dire need. Trans students from high-risk states and those without the socioeconomic means to access medical and legal transition in Williamstown or at home are in even greater need of material and community support. 

Many of our peer institutions provide access to gender-affirming care, specifically hormone replacement therapy (HRT), through their health centers. The College does not provide HRT through the health center, nor does it provide a clear path for students attempting to start or continue HRT in Williamstown. In the healthcare desert of Berkshire County, the College has failed to do what Middlebury, Amherst, Bates, and Tufts, all have for their students. Material support of this nature is crucial to the ability of Trans students to thrive here.

This lack of support runs beyond our healthcare systems and into institutional programming. Claiming Williams this year had no events focused on the Trans experience at the College. Other events like First Days do little to address the concerns of, or provide resources for, Trans students adapting to college life. The only RSO focused on the needs of Trans students, Beyond the Binary, has not yet hosted an event this academic year, and is effectively defunct. The neglect of Trans students by the current administration and campus culture is completely unacceptable. 

Radically shifting campus culture and the effectiveness of institutional bodies is an important process; yet it is also one that takes a relatively long time in the context of the current moment. This is time that the Trans community does not have to spare. Until long term changes can take effect, any immediate action that individuals or institutional bodies are capable of taking to support current and future students is crucial. 

I encourage the institutions and community members of the college to incorporate intentional awareness of and respect for the effect of present conditions on Trans students and community members. Public statements of support are helpful, but only as indicators of more substantive work to come. 

Realistic and accessible information about the process of medical and legal transition at the College is another point of need worth addressing. If Trans students are to have an equal opportunity to learn and grow on this campus, we must be able to live as ourselves on this campus. 

More anti-Trans legislation is passed every week, and newly introduced bills have only increased in their severity. Recently introduced and advancing bills include expanded restrictions on gender-affirming care access for adults, as seen in Oklahoma SB129, and regulations regarding freedom of expression, as seen in Tennessee SB 0841.  

Just as the College’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last June — which effectively overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark abortion rights case — left much to be desired, so too does the College’s response, or rather lack thereof, to the emerging dangers faced by Trans students. 

I hope that in the future there will again be times for Trans Joy, as it is something I know to be instrumental in our survival. But for now, I wish to impress upon the College’s administration and cisgender members of the College community my Trans Anger. The developing story of anti-Trans legislation, and the rhetoric surrounding it, is one that history has seen before. 

Looking ahead, the emerging culture and legislation of many states is increasingly incompatible with Trans survival. The College has done far less than is acceptable in the face of current events. It’s time that the institutions of the College, and all members of the College community, do everything within their power to materially improve support for Trans students and community members. We cannot allow this to become another event that invokes the phrase “never again.” 

Leo Levine ’26 is from Bethesda, Md.