As first reported by PQ Monthly, George Fox University has refused to allow Jayce, a transgender, African-American student, to live on campus in housing appropriate for his gender. They are also developing a policy that restricts housing to being based exclusively on the biological sex that was assigned to their students at birth (not inclusive of intersex or ambiguous non-binary birth gender).
Safety Net believes that the priority of all decisions regarding LGBTQ students should be the safety and wellbeing of students. In particular, at Christian colleges and universities, in light of Jesus’s teachings in Matthew 19 and Luke 15, we believe that making room for those whose lives defy our comfortable norms is the work of God’s Kingdom. In the case of transgender students at Christian universities, Safety Net encourages making reasonable accommodations for the safety and well-being of those students, rather than attempting to force them into categories that do not reflect the realities of their lives.
Current scientific research indicates that approximately 1 in 1500 children are born with atypical or indeterminate genitalia and that between 2% and 5% of the human population is transgender (experiences some degree of gender dysphoria). Transgender students live with a medically verifiable condition that they have had from birth whose standard medical treatment often requires living in their identified gender. By forcing Jayce off-campus, and denying appropriate housing accommodations to those whose gender does not match the sex they were assigned at birth, George Fox University is failing to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of its students.
In placing their trust in the biological sex that a newborn was assigned at birth and legal documents that have not yet been, though are in the process of being, corrected to reflect Jayce’s transgender identity, George Fox University effectively privileges an arbitrary assignment of biological sex at birth over the testimony of their student and the medical professionals who have since then confirmed his gender as a male. The assignment of biological sex at birth most often relies solely on a cursory glance at a newborn’s sex organ. However, we now know that biological sex is comprised of multiple factors, including not only sex organs and chromosomes but also neurological, hormonal, genetic, and other internal reproductive factors, which the assignment of sex at birth generally does not take into account. It is a mistake to privilege this cursory “best guess” at birth over the testimony of Jayce and the wisdom of the medical professionals who have overseen his gender transition and plans for gender-confirming surgery.
That a Christian university would feel compelled to discriminate against a transgender student must deeply grieve the heart of Jesus. Safety Net invites administrators of George Fox University, an academic institution with a strong biology department focused on pre-medical studies, to embrace this moment with us and with Jayce as a Kingdom-building opportunity to extend unconditional gracious Christian love while educating ourselves about the science of intersex and other transgender people. May Jayce (and all other transgender students, including those who have not yet disclosed their transgender identity) find inclusion in our communities, not exclusion, isolation and marginalization. Jesus would include them (Luke 15:1-7).
Jayce’s mom has started an online petition calling for asking George Fox to reconsider their decision to deny Jayce on-campus housing with other male students.