In the wake of reports that the federal government is considering narrowing the definition of gender under the law, Johns Hopkins today issued a message to faculty, staff, and students reiterating its steadfast support for members of the LGBTQ community—particularly its transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and intersex faculty, students, staff, visitors, and patients—and reaffirming its commitment to inclusivity.
The message—signed by Fenimore Fisher, the university's vice provost for diversity and inclusion; Demere Woolway, director of the Office of LGBTQ Life; Inez Stewart, interim chief diversity officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine; and Paula M. Neira, clinical program director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health—also includes information on Hopkins policies, programs, and resources that support members of the LGBTQ community and others.
The New York Times reported recently that the Trump administration has proposed limiting the government's definition of gender to male and female "based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth."
According to The Times, a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services directs the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor to adopt a uniform, binary definition of gender. All four departments enforce some aspects of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that protects people from sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.
"We … recognize that reports about this proposal—as well as broader concerns about LGBTQ rights and safety—may be concerning to the LGBTQ community and its allies," today's message says, "and we are dedicated to creating a climate of respect and inclusion that is supportive of our LGBTQ community."
JHU President Ronald J. Daniels affirmed the university's commitment.
"Johns Hopkins unequivocally supports the LGBTQ community, including our transgender and gender non-conforming community members and those we serve," he said. "We recognize, value, and are made stronger by their presence here, and we commit ourselves to ensuring that the work we do and the environment we create supports and sustains their lives and aspirations."
An estimated 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender or gender diverse—a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. The research and medical communities now generally view sex as far more complex than male or female, and they view gender as a spectrum that includes transgender people as well as those who identify as neither male nor female.
Johns Hopkins' policies prohibit discrimination across a range of categories, including gender identity and/or expression. Maryland has had statewide protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in place since 2001, and against discrimination based on gender identity in place since 2014.
- Hopkins health benefits provide inclusive options for members of the transgender community and have provisions for trans-inclusive care. Hormones and gender-affirming surgery are covered in the same way as any other medical procedure.
- Johns Hopkins has had a longstanding Safe Zone training program designed to educate participants about the LGBTQ community and foster a more inclusive environment.
- Members of the Johns Hopkins community who prefer to use an all-gender restroom have this option available to them at several campuses; a full list of locations is available online.
- Over the past year, the Office of Institutional Equity has worked to develop a process by which members of the university community can maximize the use of their preferred or chosen name in various online systems.
Today's message listed a number of available campus resources:
- The Homewood Counseling Center, which serves all full-time students enrolled in the Krieger and Whiting schools, all Peabody Conservatory students, and all pre-med post baccalaureate students
- The Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program, or JHSAP, which serves students at the schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, Business, Education, and Advanced International Studies, as well as students from Krieger's Advanced Academic Programs and Whiting's Engineering for Professionals
- The Johns Hopkins Faculty and Staff Assistance Program or FASAP, which serves all faculty and staff.
- The University Office of LGBTQ Life, which serves as a resource for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied student community
Information about services and resources available to patients, practitioners, and faculty through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Johns Hopkins Medicine can be found at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/diversity/about-us/.
Information about the services and resources available to patients, practitioners, and faculty through the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health can be found at the center's website.
"We will continue to share information with all of you as it becomes available or has specific implications for Johns Hopkins," Fisher, Woolway, Stewart, and Neira wrote in today's message. "And we will, as always, continue our work to be an inclusive community in which our LGBTQ members, our patients, and visitors know they are a visible and valued part of the work, life, and mission of Johns Hopkins."