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The Parthenon

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Editorial: W.Va. should support transgender community

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A screenshot of the article as seen on Facebook. (Screenshot)

Recently, Marshall University’s Intercultural Office sponsored a Transgender Clothing Drive that started Feb. 6 and lasts until Feb. 24. The editorial staff of The Parthenon were entirely thrilled when we read a story our reporter wrote covering the drive. The editorial staff feels strongly about the rights of our transgender peers and, for that matter, gender fluid and non-binary peers. Apparently, some community members do not feel the same.

Marshall University broadcast journalism radio alum and host of the Tom Roten Morning Show on 800 WVHU, Tom Roten, runs a Facebook page that shares questionable news content — and the comment sections associated with these posts is a breeding place for intolerance and bigotry.

Recently, Roten shared a story regarding the clothing drive that even mentions The Parthenon and Roten’s “fans” offered mostly ignorance in substitution of positive rhetoric.

One comment read, “First and most important you are going to college to learn and become an asset to your community not tuck your junk and try to look pretty, news flash a man dressed like a woman is not pretty! #keepitbehindcloseddoors.” Another read, “Be the sex God made you, for pity sake, get a life,” and one stated a simple question, “So do I burn my diploma now or later?”

The people who made the aforementioned comments are Marshall fans or family — people who went to, or hold affiliation with, one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly college campuses.

What have trans people done to deserve such hate? And not to mention from Appalachians, who are positively stereotyped as being welcoming or loving. This venomous dialogue destroys whatever positive movement West Virginians have made by association.

The New York Times reported that there are roughly 1.4 million adults in the United States that identify as transgender, which ultimately makes up 0.6 percent of the adult population. West Virginia’s population was an estimated 1,831,102, roughly 0.5 percent of the national population of 324,552,183. Transgender people really do not make up a large portion of West Virginia’s population, but fellow citizens are adamant about demonizing them and taking something away from them as simple as a clothing drive.

Maybe Marshall should cut all donation based programs, seeing as somehow it has to be all the taxpayer’s money going to these events. Maybe people would realize how dumb they sound if it were a clothing drive for homeless people in question.

Think about it this way, trans West Virginians probably have it hard. Their families may not be okay with them transitioning, or living life with their preferred identity and pronouns. They probably aren’t allowed to go out to the store and purchase whatever clothing fits their identity, or are viciously belittled for wearing what makes them feel more comfortable.

Website Vocativ reports over 40 percent of trans or gender non-conforming citizens have tried to commit suicide. These men and women feel alone; more alone than most people can conceive — and what people are focusing on is being mad about clothing for these people?

It is a sad state of affairs when West Virginians are too occupied with misinformation or what their churches say about trans people that they are apt to sit behind a keyboard and belittle a good cause. Transgender rights are human rights and the more West Virginians and Marshall fans align themselves with such a negative position, the more the world turns backwards, sending West Virginia into a hole citizens cannot escape from.

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