Trans Duke U. student moved out of campus dorm

ANNOUNCEMENT: Join Matt, readers and other community members for a community discussion, forum and general time of learning on trans issues at Tate Street Coffeehouse in Greensboro, NC, 6:00pm, September 16, 2007. More info here.

According to ABC 11 (Raleigh-Durham, NC), Duke University has moved a male-to-female, pre-operation transgender student out of a dormitory for women after “outraged” parents contacted school officials:

Some students at Duke University and their parents say they were shocked by a decision to let a male student who plans to become a woman live in female dorm.

The University changed its plans, but not before one outraged parent in Fayetteville talked exclusively with Eyewitness News reporter Gilbert Baez.

Lee Chauncey lives in Fayetteville, but his daughter is a senior at Duke University in Durham. He was shocked last week after moving her into Craven Hall B to find out what he calls disturbing news.


Students were told a male student, who was going to have sexual reassignment surgery in coming months would be living as a female in the dorm. Chauncey immediately called Duke leaders. “I told him that if I was coming across as concerned I wasn’t communicating properly… I was outraged,” the concerned father said.

Chauncey says he doesn’t have a problem with transgenders. He just doesn’t think it’s appropriate for an individual who right now is still a man  to live in a dorm like a woman. “And would be using the facilities for the women,” Chauncey questioned. “Shower and bathroom facilities and the individual would have a key.”

“No problem with transgenders” ? Huh. I’m sorry, but “no problem” means “no problem” and if he had “no problem” then he wouldn’t have seen the student living in the dorm as a “problem.”

I’d love to get the parents’ opinion on the situation after the student has had her operation. I can guarantee you that many of the parents will feel the same way as they do now.

Although… If Duke had gender-blind housing options, this never would have been a problem for other students, parents or the transgender student.

UPDATE, 8/31/2007 12:10am EST USA: Lee Chauncey, the parent quoted by the news source above, commented here on this post clarifying his words and explaining his position. I thank him for it. Check out what he has to say… it is good.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Join Matt, readers and other community members for a community discussion, forum and general time of learning on trans issues at Tate Street Coffeehouse in Greensboro, NC, 6:00pm, September 16, 2007. More info here.

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51 Responses to “Trans Duke U. student moved out of campus dorm”
  1. beth says:

    You see I don’t see how they can legally do this. What are they basing the criteria on whether or not a person is male or female? Is it the equipment? Is it chromosomes? Is it preference (obviously not)? Even if they claim it’s the first two, how do the prove all the “other” females fall into that criteria?

    This kid should sue the crap out of this school, on this basis.

  2. Matt says:

    I think I agree with you Beth. Although not all transgender people appreciate it, it is entirely true that gender identity disorder is classified as such by the American Psychological Association. It is a classified medical and psychological phenomena and the treatment for it is, of course, living as the opposite gender and, for some, seeking sexual reassignment surgery. Living in a dorm which matches the transgender person’s gender is, in my opinion, nothing more than the treatment that goes along with GID.

  3. Lee Chauncey says:

    When I say I have no problem, don’t misunderstand. I support the young ladies decision to change sexes. I owned an adult video store in Fayetteville for years. Several of my customers are now my friends. They are transexuals and they are my friends. However, they have never dropped by and showered with my daughter. I spent the evening yesterday with a pre-op transexual friend of mine. She supports my position on this fully. If you take time to understand my position you may not be so offended. The problem is that Duke never asked if the women on the dorm floor with this young woman wanted to be part of her experience. Some of them may actually have been uncomfortable with the inevitability of seeing male genitalia in the shower on a regular basis. I do support her. I do not believe any purpose or agenda is served by imposing her nude presence on unknowing or unwilling young women. TS/TG should be considered a third and possibly a fourth sex. Separate facilities should be afforded. This was never about where she lived, just where she used the bathroom facilities.

    Lee Chauncey

  4. Matt says:

    Lee… Thank you, greatly, for your comments and your clarification. I deeply appreciate your views on this subject and I am glad you stopped by in order to give your opinions and further the thoughts that were placed in the news (as we all know, only a fraction of what a person says ever gets in a news report). Again, thank you; your comments do much to clarify the situation.

  5. Lee Chauncey says:

    You are right about inaccuracies in news reports. One account had the person in question living in the room with my daughter. She wasn’t even on the part of the floor designated for females. One thing should be noted here. I know the identity of the person, who was moved. My daughter is a senior and knew her in previous semesters at Duke. If I were unsupportive of her choice, the media would have her name. I have never even used her first name (male or female). I hope to meet her at a later date and discuss this matter face-to-face. Duke made an unfortunate choice in letting this situation develope. In the media they indicate that it was a temporary decision. On Monday Duke officials told me that there was little chance that the situation would change any time soon. If they had told me they were looking for a solution, I probably would not have spoken out.

    Lee Chauncey

  6. beth says:

    That’s utter bull Lee. If your daughter doesn’t want to view genitalia that’s not her own, then she doesn’t have to shower with the transgendered individual. Whose to say your daughter isn’t chromosomally male? This “separate but equal” blanket statement fails to recognize this transgender woman, as a woman. Your daughter, and this woman is the same sex. One has a different looking body, but do not discount her.

  7. Lee Chauncey says:

    Beth, I doubt I will be able to convince you of the reality of the situation. You are too busy focusing on your agenda. The problem is that the feelings of everyone must be considered in a situation like this. Your view would discount the comfort and rights of everyone on the floor, just to accommodate the young lady’s desire to live as a female. You question my daughter’s chromosomes. That is irrelevant to the issue. I have known her since before she breathed her first breath. I can certify, irrefragably, that she is equipped with a vagina. By all accounts, the young lady in question is anatomically a complete male. There is a physical difference here that causes discomfort for some in a common shower situation. The comfort of one should not override the comfort of several. The issue here is that Duke has absolutely NO policy to handle these situations. They need one. I understand opinions are diverse on this issue. I understand that I won’t change yours. I respect your opinion. I would caution you that an “in-your-face” approach to matters like this do not promote acceptance.

    Lee Chauncey

  8. Matt says:

    Lee said: “The issue here is that Duke has absolutely NO policy to handle these situations. They need one.”

    And I think he is right. Numerous colleges (mostly smaller ones) across the nation, including Guilford College in Greensboro, have instituted “genderblind” or gender-neutral housing policies that allow students to chose to live with individuals of another gender. The policies allow all sorts of people to find housing that is most comfortable for them. Although some say that kind of policy would only be used by boyfriends and girlfriends seeking to live together, most of the students who actually use it are gay male students who are more comfortable living with a straight female rather than a straight male or other similar situations. A “genderblind” policy at Duke would have also allowed this young lady to find a friend with whom she could live in a dorm room in a co-ed dormitory.

    More info on “genderbling” housing policies can be found at

  9. Matt says:

    See… gender-neutral ideas for campus facilities aren’t too far away from good ole’ Duke:

  10. beth says:

    Not acceptable… You refer to her as someone trying “to live as female”. What you fail to recognize, is “she” is female. Would you say the same thing of an amputee that only still had the portion of her body above her genitalia? I doubt you would. This is plane and simple, an aesthetic difference.

    Vaginas don’t make the woman. While you’ve dodged the point, your daughter could still be chromosomally male. How would you feel if another parent demanded she be exiled?

    Do me a favor Lee, how much education, or personal experience do you have with intersex, or transsexual individuals? Are you familiar with terms such as AIS, Klinefelter’s or Turner’s syndrome? Exactly how qualified, and educated are you to make such an assumption that another human being doesn’t qualify to be treated similarly to your daughter?

    All your doing is causing this individual pain and heart-ache, your causing them to have to change their life to benefit your prejudice, and you have absolutely no basis for doing so.

  11. Matt says:

    Wow… Beth, I never realized you had all this knowledge on transgender issues. I’ve never heard or seen you use that knowledge in bloggings before (not saying you haven’t, I just haven’t seen it). That’s cool.

  12. Lee Chauncey says:

    Beth, I have a great deal of experience with this subject. I owned an adult video store in Fayetteville, which catered primarily to gay clientelle. I developed friendships with many of my customers, including dozens of transsexuals. Since this story broke, I have spent time talking to TG friends of mine. They don’t understand YOUR position here. I have personally observed the transitions my TG friends and aquaintances have gone and are going through. I have seen the results of surgery. The doctors are very talented. You are right that genetalia has nothing to do with ones sexual roles. Most TG women never have the surgery. The problem with your argument is that people can’t see chromosomes in the shower. The young lady in question has rights, this is true. The other young ladies, who may or may not be prepared to deal with seeing the masculine outward appearance she prensents, have rights, too. Her rights end where theirs begin. Duke, or any other university, has an obligation to provide as high a percentage of their students as possible with an atmosphere conducive to concentration on studies. The best way to do this is to provide TG persons with separate facilities. The young lady is still a young lady, she just has a private bathroom now.

    Now, for some totally irrelevant information:

    In addition to many years of direct contact on an almost daily basis with the LGBT community as a friend, my education is listed in part here.

    I have an Associate Degree from the University of Maryland (1984).

    I speak three languages.

    I am certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and in Pediatric Advanced Life Support by the leading organization in the world, which makes such certification.

    I have almost 54 years of life experience. I have traveled the world. There is little I haven’t experienced.

    In the sixties, I was in your shoes. I was an advocate for civil rights issues. Even in high school, i took the podium in public forums on the issue.

    I still am not the right-wing, christian conservative nut many try to paint me as. This picture of me would promote their agenda. The fact is I am a Libertarian athiest. I think the government ought to stay out of everyone’s life as much as possible. But, I think we all should stay out of each other’s face as well.

    I have suffered a lot of insults as a result of this incident. I have been subjected to considerable media attention. I am no longer the type of person who looks for a cause. I prefer to quietly live my life. However, if this issue arose again, I would do the same thing. I hope that the attention to the issue will help Duke to formulate policy to deal with this. Currently, there are four TG persons attending Duke. They, and those who follow them, deserve policy to address their needs.

  13. Matt says:

    Lee… again, thank you for your comments. I do not think you are the right-wing conservative nut that I may have first insinuated you were. I do apologize.

    As for Beth… she’s got a great soul, but she (like me) loves her soap box. She (just like me) can be a little confrontational at times. If she gives you a hard time, you know she loves you, lol :)

  14. Lee Chauncey says:

    Matt, I didn’t think you maintained that idea after my first post. You owe me no apology. A person has to work with the information available to them.

    As Beth being a good person,with soul goes. I agree. I would probably enjoy spending an evening of dinner and conversation with you both.

  15. Matt says:

    Maybe we should do that sometime then… There are some great places to eat in both Greensboro and the Triangle area for sure.

  16. beth says:

    Lee, I’m not being confrontational. Just stating the obvious. While I’m sure you’re a good person, you’ve done a very bad thing.

    I’m just wondering how you would feel if I started a campaign with the news-media to have your daughter placed in a separate facility for being fat? Or for having one foot bigger then the other.

    The problem is this. You want to perceive this person as different. If you didn’t you wouldn’t care. By definition, when you treat someone different based on superficial things, then it’s discrimination.

    I’m glad you feel owning a porn store entitles you to understanding the situation, but your choice of words suggest otherwise. Being Gay and Transgender are two separate things. You can be gay, and transgender, or neither. When I asked about your education of the subject, I meant have you “ever” read a book on it? Is your understanding, any greater then your how much porn one can buy as a cross-dresser? Do you realize this aren’t the same thing?

    I mean, based on your logic, handicap people should have separate facilities so their deformity doesn’t distract the “normal” looking people.

    Let me ask you this. If tomorrow, you woke up looking just as you do now, except you now had a vagina instead of a penis; (assuming here) would you immedately start using the female bathroom? No. Would you feel female? No. Why? Because changing some skin around doesn’t effect your brain. This woman was born with a female brain and male genitilia. It could have happened to your daughter. It could have happened to you.

    What has happened here though, is you’ve taken your beliefs, what your view of transgenderism is, and you’ve forced it on other people by making a big hoo-hoo over it.

    That’s whats wrong here.

    If you could tell me you used to be a woman, or have a degree in endocrinology, and have studied the last 10 years on the subject… I might just say your opinion should be valued.

    Being you’re just an over-protective parent afraid of some guy in a dress who might show his winky to your daughter, then I really don’t think you have the right to say anything, let alone influence a college.

    By the way, I’m quite sure your daughter will see much more weenie than that if she’s going to Duke. Your time and effort might be better aimed at keeping her away from the testosterone induced men rather then the estrogen filled transgender people.

  17. Lee Chauncey says:

    Beth, you are a lot of fun. You want me to read a book. I want you to read my entire posts. I told you a couple of times that I have personal relationships with many transgendered persons. I read all about kidney stones once. It did not add nearly as much to my understanding of how it feels to have kidney stones as the personal experience I had with them. You seem to have a negative opinion of “porn shops.” I hope you are never actually exposed to any porn.

    I wonder, based on your position on this, if you maybe prefer that we have only one set of facilities for everyone.

    I don’t care how much penis and scrotum my daughter views. I sincerely hope she has a healthy sexual appetite. I just think she should chose when, where, and under what circumstances she views them. Maybe she should also be allowed to choose whose she views.

    You keep questioning my education. I showed you mine. Show me yours. Oh, how old are you, too? Life experience is what that kidney stone comment was all about.

  18. Lee Chauncey says:

    We should do that dinner thing. You have access to my email. See if Beth wants to get togther.

  19. Robin says:

    Duke’s nondiscrimination policy is below. The full statement is here:

    It took me approximately three seconds to find it. It says that they prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sex. It couldn’t be more clear; nothing further need be said.

    Lee, with respect, I’d like to suggest that transgender people that you meet because they come to rent videos at a porn shop are not a representative sample of transgender people in general. So for you to say you know all about them is inaccurate. That they would show you the results of their genital surgery is a further indication that these people are not typical. I can’t imagine anyone who would do that, except incidentally as part of an intimate relationship.

    And, by the way, while sex determination in humans is usually chromosomal, there are other genes involved that aren’t on the sex chromosomes. So there can be xx males and xy females. Some people can be mixtures of genotypes, so that some cells are xx and some are xy. This occurs (no one knows how often) if two embryos fuse in utero. And as Beth pointed out, there are conditions such as CAH, AIS, and so on. Isn’t biology wonderful?

    Too bad I can’t join you for dinner.


    Duke University prohibits discrimination, and provides equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex or age. The university also makes good faith efforts to recruit, employ and promote qualified minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. It admits qualified students to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students. The university prohibits harassment of any kind.”

    Pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Duke University prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any of its educational programs or activities.

  20. Robin says:

    > I owned an adult video
    > store in Fayetteville
    > for years. Several of
    > my customers are now
    > my friends.

    You know, this is actually quite offensive. You probably didn’t mean it to be, but it seems that you don’t understand that sex and gender are two different things.

    Are you a man only when having sex? Or are you a man while watching television, walking down the street, riding the bus, or mowing your lawn?

    For most trans people, living as the gender that they identify as has nothing whatsoever to do with sex.

    And, anyway, in your house, don’t people of different sexes and genders use the same toilet and shower? So what’s the issue? Someone doesn’t want to share, they don’t share. So?

  21. Robin says:

    And, since we’re flashing our status tokens, I suppose I’ll add that I’m just a bit younger than you (Lee), have a Ph.D. in a biological field from a major research university, a couple dozen publications peer-reviewed international scientific journals, a couple of book chapters (one of which I wrote in my second language) and though I’ve never had kidney stones, I am transgendered. But I really think that all that is irrelevant. Our comments should stand on their own. And simply having an opinion is not enough.

  22. Matt says:

    I’d like to posit a quick observation…

    I’m fully aware that some may not be fully appreciative of Lee’s point of view on the matter, but I fully believe that he is not *intending* to be anti-trans or anti-gay in this matter. He may very well come across that way to some, but I do not believe it is something that is intentional or conscious.

    Secondly… I’m really starting to like the dinner idea more and more and more (and, yes, Robin… you can join us if you are in the area). Lee may very well be a great ally in the fight for LGBT equality, but he will never be able to fully support the LGBT community if all he faces is hostility from it. Our community(ies) is/are large enough to encompass multiple points of view and I sincerely hope that we can respect each others’ points of views while continuing to engage in a thoughtful, respectful, courteous and intelligent debate on the issues (not on the people).

  23. Robin says:

    Matt – I agree with your previous comment. While perhaps I have, at times, been blunt with my words, I hope I’ve succeeded in keeping it on topic and not personal. And I really would like to join you folks for dinner, but I’m actually rather far away.

  24. Lee Chauncey says:

    Duke is rather progressive in their policies. Unfortunately, in this matter, they must defer to NC law. Since Duke is not a government, the laws of the state trump Duke policy. NC General Statute 14-190.9 is the reason Duke decided to move her. Duke didn’t violate their own policies, they simply adhered to the law. Don’t hold this situation against Duke. They had no choice. Write your state senator. Duke does, however, need to formulate policy which will both address this situation and adhere to the law. There is no such policy at this time.

  25. Natalie says:

    According to that statute, only public exposure of “private parts” is prohibited.

    I’ve been inside the “community” showers of Duke. Each shower is surrounded by 3 ceiling-high walls and a thick shower curtain. It’s easily possible to shower and then clothe oneself without exposing oneself to anyone else showering…

    Unlike a lot of folks, I don’t think you’re a bigot, but I do think you were perhaps a bit misguided and overprotective in your actions.

  26. Robin says:

    Thanks for the citation of the law. It does *not* saw anything about who is required to use which restroom. as natalie pointed out – and the name of the statute says – it’s about exposure. it also says it applies to public places. is a locked restroom accessible to residents of a specific hall in a specific dorm a “public” place?

    that is, i don’t see that having that particular student use that particular restroom would be in violation of the law. but then, i guess that Duke was intimidated by potential bad press and the threat of losing out on tuition payments and maybe donations.

    the golden rule: those that have the gold make the rules.

    i wonder, Lee, have you met the student who was moved to another dorm? does your daughter know her?

  27. Justin says:

    I think what Lee meant when he cited NC General Statute 14-190.9 as the reason for the move was that if at some point the student did inadvertently expose themselves at any point during the year, it would have put Duke at risk of being sued. He didn’t mean that the statute explicitly forbade the situation, but rather that it made for a shaky legal situation the University thought best to avoid.
    And for reference, I spent 4 years using the showers at Duke, and it takes a great deal of care NOT to expose yourself at some point. The curtains don’t run flush against the sides of the stalls (if they are wide enough to start with), and at some point you have to reach out to get your towel… definitely a foreseeable risk, and a wise move on Duke’s part to deal with the issue now.
    Also, Robin- just out of curiosity- where are you going with your last question there about whether Lee or his daughter knows the student who was moved?

  28. Lee Chauncey says:

    Duke did little to inform anyone on the floor, let alone get their agreement on the subject. The legal definition of that bath facility would certainly be public. Parents and other guests use it when they visit. Justin has the right take on what I posted. I don’t think we have any flashers involved here. Inadvertant exposure is inevitable. To answer your question about me or my daughter knowing the other student, my daughter knew her all last year. I don’t know if the other student knew my daughter. My daughter says she is nice. I have not met her yet.

  29. Lee Chauncey says:

    I just returned from New York. I was a guest on the Montel Williams show. Montel did a very good job of exploring this very issue. The show title is “TRANSGENDERED – TRAPPED IN THE WRONG BODY.” It explored some of the challenges faced by transgendered people. Montel was very sympathetic and pretty thorough.

    I know some are going to criticize me for the appearance, even before the show airs. I encourage everyone who visits this site to watch the show. I went on the show with the experience of the beating I have taken on various websites and in the media. I was certain I was brought in to be the boogeyman. Many people told me that I would be subjected to attack. I thought it was an important topic and that I should appear. I put aside personal considerations and went. There was actually no hostility on the program for anyone there, including me. It was a calm discussion, devoid of the shrill name-calling, which is ubiquitous on the internet. I believe the show will provide a small advance in understanding for this very complicated issue. The air date has not been announced. I will post again when I know the air date.

  30. Robin says:

    Justin – in response to your comments: Lee said that Duke relocated the student in order to comply with state law. I asked, out of sincere curiosity, what the relevant law was, because many states don’t actually have a law that requires male people to use the men’s room, and females to use the women’s room. (Actually, that would be interesting, because it would require a legal definition of sex, which is more complicated than many people would assume.)

    In response to my question, Lee cited a statute that conceivably might apply, but I don’t see that it necessarily would. I’m not sure that accidental and incidental exposure would be considered a sanctionable offense.

    As for my question whether Lee or his daughter knows the student, I just wondered, because in effect this student is being deemed a threat to the quality of Lee’s daughter’s life, if not a danger to her (Lee’s daughter’s) psychological health. In that context I thought perhaps that actually knowing the individual in question might reduce some of the concern.

    I don’t mean to be attacking anyone here. But it seems that there is a lot of concern over what hypothetically, maybe, might occur, and the harm that just might, perhaps result, and as a result the other student is having her privacy violated and her ability to a relatively normal student life infringed upon.

  31. David Gould says:

    If what I have read about the subject of Transsexuality is that if it is a male to female,that after a while the hormones kick in that the male genatilia either shinks and that there is very little semen.I don’t think that a M2F could rape anyone but you still have to respect the rights and feelings of others.They should ask all the other girls how they feel about the sitituation.

  32. Matt says:

    David… is it the genitalia of a person which makes that person a male or a female?

    Should we ask all the other girls if a girl born without reproductive organs wants to live in the dorm? Should we ask them if a girl born without the ability to develop feminine breasts wants to live there?

  33. beth says:

    Matt, here’s the thing… A “stereotypically” appearing male individual can have either male or female genitalia, partially both, or none. The same applies to chromosomes, and gender reversal in the above said situation. Based on that, the only thing left to judge gender by is labels, and that’s something that can freely change.

    This is exactly why gays will be allowed to marry someday. You can’t ban gay marriage without illegitamizing “stereotypically” straight appearing relationships. If you read many accounts of men (or woman) with Klinefelter’s syndrome who never even realized their whole lives that they were different, only to try to have children with their wives and discover they are XXY, or what is commonly called a mosaic pattern.

    If widespread karyotyping was implemented prior to all legal marriages we’d find many, many woman who are genetically male, and men who are genetically female.

    This is not unheard of. This has been big news with the Olympics, and sports for several years.

    The law he sites would never, ever hold up in court. It’s outdated, and would never be enforced. Likewise many, much more modern laws have been passed, as I stated in the “other” thread which hold precedence over that law. Lee may think he is “Luke Duke” and can cross the county line, and the Sheriff has no jurisdiction, but in the real world Federal Court Cases can and often do indicate legal precedence, which would make Duke’s actions illegal.

    This individual “needs” to get a lawyer. Needs to contact the HRC, and needs to overturn this decision. Most major businesses and schools adhere to the accepted model for transgender bathroom usage. That model is called “The path of least astonishment”; which basically says, in which way can we treat this individual where they will not be ridiculed, or placed in a postition of harm; where will they fit in the best. If you look like a woman, then go in the woman’s bathroom. If you look like a man, then go in the man’s bathroom.

    It’s common sense, it’s compassionate, and it’s the right thing to do.

  34. Matt says:

    Beth… I understand all that. You know I do; I’ve spent years studying the issues, the legality of all things gay (and I’m still learning on many trans issues, like many people, gay and straight).

    One refrain I’ve often echoed throughout this entire debate, however, is that we should treat each other with respect. I originally called Mr. Chauncey a bigot and when he clarified his views I apologized. They aren’t necessarily bigoted or extremely anti-gay. Perhaps you or I may think he could use more education, but attacks aren’t going to accomplish that and specifically, attacks will never turn Mr. Chauncey – a potentially wonderful straight ally – in to such.

    Posting contact information for his daughter and bringing his daughter into a public discussion she never asked to be in is quite low and no way to go about trying to educate someone. I can understand being frustrated – I am often am – but on this issue I’ve tried to play moderator. I’d like to meet with you (something we’ve never ever done) in order to further discuss this idea of education-frustration-tactics-debate in person.

  35. Robin says:

    I’m not criticizing anyone as a person; but I will talk about what they do. I don’t think Lee is evil. We could probably have a nice talk about a lot of things. But it sounds to me that he has known a few trans women and is generalizing based on that experience.

    Sometimes the consequences of our actions matter more than our intent. Tolerance and sympathy are condescending. Offering tolerance or sympathy implies recognition and acceptance of a power differential, rather than trying to do something about it.

    People don’t want tolerance. We tolerate obnoxious, bothersome things that we can’t do anything about. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone, for the other, who has problems that you don’t. Declaring sympathy reinforces difference. To tolerate and have sympathy for someone based on who they are is insulting, even if that isn’t the intent.

    And, it’s disingenuous to declare “I had nothing to do with it” and also say “I had to involve the media as a means to a proper end.” Furthermore, the latter declaration puts you in the position of arbiter of what is proper.

    Does having met a few transwomen at your video store really give you sufficient knowledge to decide on these matters? Does your checkbook distribute justice along with cash?

    I don’t think that Lee is evil, but I wish he could acknowledge that he’s in over his head in terms of the issues (legal, biological, psychological, ethical), and that he shouldn’t be flaunting his economic power to impose his will in ways that affect the lives of people he really doesn’t understand.

  36. beth says:

    Matt, everything I said was fair game. His daughter, and all the information was “already” on the Internet. She’s listed in the Duke student directory.

    I was very gentle about the whole thing up to the point he announced he went on Montel. You want to be a Rock Star Mr. Lee, then by golly I’m your freaking paparazzi.

    I did a whole lot less then he did to this individual, and believe me, I have much more information then has been posted. I was being nice.

    Not once during the entire conversation did Mr Chaucey admit that he could be wrong. Not once did he show sympathy for upturning this girls life. Lee failed to concede any of the valid, and infallible points that were made by “actual” transgender people who are way more educated then he on the subject. This includes both on your blog, and this article here on Duke’s campus paper.

    No normal person acts in the manner as he has, unless he is searching for 15 minutes of fame. I would have all but written this off as “an over-protective father” “deluded by being a parent”; up till the point he decided to pass him self off as a person who has the understanding of the subject.

    Not only is his only qualification to make these judgements based on his previous ownership of a porn store, but he is not even directly involved in the situation. Even his daughter Sandili’s only involvement is that she “could have” shared a bathroom with this person, and she “could have” accidentally showered in the stall next to the individual.

    Seems a bit superficial for possibilities that “could have” never happened.

  37. Natalie says:

    “everything I said was fair game. His daughter, and all the information was “already” on the Internet. She’s listed in the Duke student directory.”

    Even so…posting them here seems a bit extreme when Lee did not distribute any personal information about the poor girl at the center of this mess.

    I think that you are way too close to this issue, though I’m not sure how you could be closer to it than me…for the record, I’m one of the “four TG persons attending Duke” Lee mentioned earlier. (No I won’t give out any contact information…my poster name may not even be my real one). Did you know the girl who was outed?

    On the day after the news story broke, my therapist, who lives in Raleigh, saw it, called my parents to make sure it wasn’t me. They then started calling me in a panic. I was pretty uncomfortable for several days following the story, but it has basically blown over now. I think Duke made a bad call in informing ever girl on the floor about their dorm-mate, but I understand why they did it.

    I have my own private room/bathroom in a co-ed floor, but I would not have minded being able to have a roommate or share a bathroom with other girls. I understood that wasn’t a particularly good idea even with Duke’s anti-discrimination policy, and I wish 1) that society as a whole would be more accepting so that we could use the communal bathrooms without any issues and 2) that the poor girl had not decided to push it just yet by picking the room she did.

    Anyways, Beth, I really feel that Lee was acting with good intentions, even if he chose a particularly bad way to carry those intentions out. I don’t think he seems the sort to seek out attention, and I don’t believe that he went on Montel just for another chance at the spotlight. I’m a bit offended as well that he touts his experience owning an adult store as his only experience with the transgender community because that is really only a small portion of the community. The much larger group simply falls in between the cracks of society, almost completely unnoticed. However, I do think he has more understanding and is more open-minded toward transsexuality than the average American, and conceivably he could be an ally in achieving tolerance and acceptance. I really don’t think he deserves the antipathy you’ve shown him so far.

    Please, step back and look at the situation as objectively as you can before posting more.

  38. beth says:

    “I was Outraged

    Well I am too.

    Let me ask you this. What happens when your “private” facilities break, and you are unable to use them at that moment?

    Where do you go the bathroom when you are away from your private quarters?

    Do you just hold it? Is that fair? I’m sure Mr Chauncey won’t be footing any urinary tract medical bills for this girl, from his Hope Improvement company?

    I’ve already removed “some” of the information that’s been posted about his daughter, as a sign of good-will. The right thing for him to do now is to issue a letter to Duke and to the media stating his opinion has changed and he would like to withdraw his previous comments concerning the issue.

  39. Natalie says:

    Actually, I just use the women’s bathroom wherever I am.

    It isn’t like anyone peeks inside the stall to make sure the person using it is female in body and mind. Using the restroom is different from showering because nudity is not a factor. I don’t think Lee objected to the transgirl using the toilets in the communal bathroom, only the shower. If my toilet stopped working, there are unisex bathrooms around campus plus plenty of women’s restrooms I can use. If my shower stopped working *shudders at the thought* I’m sure my friends would gladly let me use their suite’s shower as long as I left it neat. My dorm this year doesn’t have communal bathrooms, so it is a different issue for me and the other girl.

    “The right thing for him to do now is to issue a letter to Duke and to the media stating his opinion has changed and he would like to withdraw his previous comments concerning the issue.”

    I don’t think his opinion has changed though, for better or for worse. What he could do would be to write them clarifying his position.

  40. Natalie says:

    Also, you never commented on whether you were personally involved in this issue or if you just decided to take a righteous stand against bigotry.

  41. beth says:

    I decided to comment on my fellow blogger’s blog. I am no more personally involved in the situation the Lee is.

    Thanks for the input Natalie. I don’t suppose Lee will be commenting anymore, but I’d be curious as to if he agrees on shared bathroom usage, and to if that’s okay?

  42. EmilyBlue says:

    A few unsorted notes:

    Whatever the feelings here, the simple fact is that this entire debate surrounds the tg/ts girl, and what *others* are supposed to do with *her*. The very baldness of the objectification, alienation, and disrespect in demanding that the whole debate should be about *her* as a “problem” should shame all involved. The paranoia running through this discourse would never be tolerated were it about a gay person.

    Saying “I have (black/gay/tg) friends” bestows no expertise, let alone authority to speak on others’ behalf.

    As a transsexual woman, I am *emphatically* not a “third or even fourth gender.” Such sentiments are canards meant to depersonalize us.

    As a transsexual student in the UNCG system, I can personally attest that there are far more than 4 tg/ts students on our campus. I’m thus reasonably certain that the Duke population is even higher. Dr. Conway’s estimates, based on reliable data, peg the national transsexual populace at around 1/1000. You do the math.

    I have never been, nor will ever be, in a porn shop (for god’s sake).

    Mr. Comer is known in the Triad tg/ts community for his transphobia. Word gets around.

    Editor’s Note: Thank you EmilyBlue for your comments. I hope that you are aware that I am not the one who has been pushing to have the transgender woman removed from the Duke dormitory. In fact, when I first published a quick post about the story, I called Mr. Chauncey a bigot for his stance. I have also said in this discussion that Duke should have a gender-blind/gender-neutral housing policy in order that all students – specifically trans students – can find rooming that best fits their needs and does not put a restriction on how/where/with whom a person can live based on gender. I don’t know where you get your information from but I strive to be a friend to all people in the LGBT community, including trans people. Words and thoughts I might have said as a student leader when I was a freshman or a sophomore really have no more bearing on my activism as I have grown and changed and learned much more about transgender people in the past two-three years (including living intimately with trans people for two months on the Equality Ride). Thanks – Matt Comer

  43. EmilyBlue says:

    One or two more comments:

    The assumption here is that a pre-op ts woman is “really” a man. This father’s own words show this to be his view. As such, he has zero understanding of transsexuality.

    If this girl is tg/ts, the LAST thing she would do would be to wave her genitalia anywhere near other young women in the showers. It would be mortifying. Next time you see a young woman modestly changing in a bathroom stall, take note; she could be doing it out of consideration for your biases (and terror of your persecution).

    Guess what, folks: we are already in the dorms. We are already in the bathrooms (gasp!). We are already in the locker rooms (shock!). And for the vast majority of us, all we desire is that you stop snickering, objectifying, and shaming our bodies when we just need to sleep, or study, or go to the bathroom, or for heaven’s sakes use the campus rec center showers with everyone else. But flaps such as this show how willing “good people” are to continue to refuse us a quotidian existence.

  44. beth says:

    Emily Blue, well said…

  45. Natalie says:

    “As a transsexual woman, I am *emphatically* not a “third or even fourth gender.” Such sentiments are canards meant to depersonalize us.”

    I happen to agree with you on that, but some transsexuals really do believe they are part of a third gender. I can’t really fault a non-TS person for repeating something TS people have said multiple times. If nothing else, it presents a very confusing front for an already difficult to understand topic.

    “I’m thus reasonably certain that the Duke population is even higher. Dr. Conway’s estimates, based on reliable data, peg the national transsexual populace at around 1/1000. You do the math.”

    Duke’s student population is only around 6 or 8 thousand. I’m not sure if the numbers provided by the university included staff as well or just students, although I was a bit surprised it was even given out to Lee. The administration had assured me that they weren’t going to tell anyone about me. I guess they meant personal information rather than just acknowledging my existence. *shrug* Either way, I am actually willing to accept those numbers as fairly accurate if they only include students for 2 reasons:

    1) The 1 in 1000 is not a law of nature. It is an average. It’s possible to randomly pick 10,000 people and not choose 1 transsexual. Unlikely, but possible. Duke’s location is also a factor I’m sure. Regardless of Duke’s increasingly LGBT-friendly reputation, it is still located in part of the South, very close to the deep South. Few northern transsexuals are going to seek to relocate here for college when many other schools are available to them in more accepting locations.

    2) It would be very hard for someone who did not transition in high school to completely hide their TS identity from the administration. You cannot show up as Jane in your sophomore year after being accepted as John the previous year without getting someone’s attention. Maybe you were including the closeted TS when you said the population here would be bigger, but that is something we really can never know anyways. I hope for their sake that any closeted transsexuals find the courage to come out soon. I know the 6 years (I didn’t realize until puberty, though there potentially were some earlier hints) I dealt with it in secret were very much a living hell in that aspect of my life.

  46. EmilyBlue says:

    “…but some transsexuals really do believe they are part of a third gender…”

    Well, none of the transsexuals I know in either the Triad or Triangle state this. True, some *transgenders* feel this way, but most typically not self-identified transsexual people, and certainly not those going for op. Regardless, this post-modern ideology is here being used to justify segregation and exclusion of a woman from her peers because of the “discomfort” of a third party. This is the same attack from the left as the MichFest wimmin-born-wimmin use. As a woman *and* a transsexual, I don’t jump for joy over the eagerness of cisgender people to “accomodate” us in this fashion.

    Good point on the math. I believed Duke’s population was much higher. Lynn Conway’s estimate regards transitioning transsexuals, not “out” ones. And yes, since most of us are in the closet, especially us mostly stealth ones… I’m sure there are more tg/ts people at Duke (remember tg too!).

    This may be the deep south, but there are oodles of us here, at all levels of society. We live where we live.

    Nonetheless, what interactions I have had with the Duke administration and staff were far from pleasant. Your comments in corroboration make me wonder. Why is Duke especially antagonistic toward tg and ts people?

    Oh, and by the way, hi. :)

  47. Natalie says:

    “I believed Duke’s population was much higher.”

    Well I didn’t count grad students as I have no idea how many there are. The freshman class this year is like 1700 people, so estimating between 6000 and 8000 students in the undergraduate student body seemed a good approximation.

    “I’m sure there are more tg/ts people at Duke (remember tg too!).”

    I just kind of lump TS and TG together when talking about it online. It’s easier for me (yea I’m lazy sometimes =p ). I don’t mean to discount them.

    “This may be the deep south, but there are oodles of us here, at all levels of society.”

    I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, but I seriously doubt any TG or TS people from northern or Pacific states would choose to move to the least tolerant region of the country. About 30-40% of Duke’s population is not from the South, so that would dilute the student body enough that the 1 in 1000 rule wouldn’t work.

    “Nonetheless, what interactions I have had with the Duke administration and staff were far from pleasant. Your comments in corroboration make me wonder. Why is Duke especially antagonistic toward tg and ts people?”

    If I implied that my interactions with Duke were unpleasant, I really didn’t mean to. When I first contacted them this summer about my transition, they were extremely receptive, cooperative, and helpful in setting up accommodations for me. Up until their decision to talk to the entire dorm about the other girl, I have been very pleased with Duke’s attitude toward transsexuality.

  48. Matt says:

    ANNOUNCEMENT: Join Matt, readers and other community members for a community discussion, forum and general time of learning on trans issues at Tate Street Coffeehouse in Greensboro, NC, 6:00pm, September 16, 2007. More info here.

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