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VPs Opperman and Lombardi issue statement on transgender support and protections

Mary Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer, and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, issued the following statement Nov. 2:

The New York Times recently reported that the Trump administration is considering a change to the definition of sex under Title IX that would narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined at birth. Should this effort proceed and be successful, it would roll back recognition of and protections for transgender people under federal civil rights law and could negatively impact their ability to access health care, public restrooms and other facilities, and to obtain identification documents.

Understandably, many of our transgender, intersex and nonbinary students, faculty and staff are experiencing fear and anger about this potential rollback in federal protections. We share these very real concerns and want to make clear that our support for the rights of students, staff and faculty of all genders, gender identities and gender expressions is unwavering.

At Cornell, we remain committed to the policies, procedures and protections afforded to our community members who identify as transgender. We stand by our statement of equal education and employment opportunity, which explicitly includes protection based on gender identity and expression. In addition, New York state law bans discrimination against transgender individuals. These state and university protections will remain in place regardless of any changes at the federal level.

The university will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed, and we will use our voice, together with many others in higher education, to speak out against federal changes that will negatively impact those in our campus community. We understand that this uncertainty is upsetting and we encourage those of you who are impacted to avail yourselves of university support services listed below.

Finally, we have recently become aware of a rally to support our trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming community on Monday, Nov. 5, at 4:30 p.m. on the steps outside Goldwin Smith Hall. We encourage those interested to attend and show support for the affirmation and protection of transgender members of the Cornell community.

Support services

  • The LGBT Resource Center provides education, outreach, advocacy and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The Title IX Office is available to assist any student, staff or faculty member who has concerns about sexual or related misconduct – including gender-based harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation or other forms of sexual misconduct.
  • The Sexual Harassment and Assault – Response and Education (SHARE) website provides important and timely information to the Cornell community about sexual harassment, assault, gender discrimination and other related forms of violence. It also offers information about Cornell’s SHARE partners who provide services, support, reporting options, education and advocacy.
  • The Office of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity provides institutional leadership by promoting a learning, living and working environment in which we encourage full participation of all members of the Cornell community.
  • Students on the Ithaca campus may contact Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) staff for counseling or other assistance with mental health concerns. Students at Cornell Tech may contact Student Services for support.
  • Employees in Ithaca and New York City may contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program at 607-255-2673 during business hours. Emergencies and after-hours concerns can also be addressed.

Media Contact

John Carberry