The debate team and Gender Sexuality Alliance club came together April 26 to discuss whether the United States has done enough to support transgender people.
Both parties debated in front of an audience in the Campus Center Ballroom.
J.J. Rodriguez, University of La Verne alumnus and lawyer in litigation, opened the debate with a welcoming message and told a personal account of one of his clients.
Rodriguez helps clients from neighboring countries, mostly from Latin America, receive extradition and asylum. Rodriguez and his client fought the legal system for eight years.
However, there are certain barriers that make the process difficult.
“These cases take forever because the law is constantly changing about this issue,” Rodriguez said.
“There are institutional, socioeconomic and jurisdictional barriers that make the case lengthy.”
After Rodriguez’ introduction, the debate between the debate team and GSA started.
President of GSA and senior education major Melissa Lach, and GSA vice president and senior anthropology major Krista Perrin argued that the U.S. has not done enough for transgender people.
Perrin and Lach argued that there is not enough representation in leadership roles for the transgender community.
Transgender people are also often bullied or ostracized for being different, Lach said.
“Fifty percent of transgender people have reported they have been victims of assault,” Lach said.
“Transgender people are people too and deserve all the basic elements of life just as much as anyone else.”
Andrea Dukes, senior sociology major, and Kacee Jones, sophomore political science major, from the ULV debate team said the justice system has made progress for transgender people as evident by the anti-discriminatory laws made in the 1990s.
Lach used a personal anecdote of a childhood friend who was bullied in school, and Perrin concluded the debate by pointing out the flaws in the health care system.
“There are many problems with health care,” Perrin said. “It took a friend six to eight months to get her first t-shot (testosterone) because she had to jump through many hoops to get there.”
Both sides discussed the word “queer” and its connotation.
The word and the relationship with the LGBT community has been turbulent because it was once used as an insult and is now used in a positive way.
“The debate was very informative,” Kendall Graves, junior behavioral science major, said.
“A lot of issues that don’t get attention were talked about today, and that’s important because everyone deserves the basic elements of life.”
Rob Ruiz, debate team coach, helped organize the event with GSA.
He said he wanted to bring Rodriguez back to campus to speak and that the debate was a nice way to end Gaypril.
“It was great to come back and see ULV support this type of event,” Rodriguez said.
“There’s been real progress, and not just progress you can see, but a mindset of acceptance.”
Brian Rios can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.