October 5, 2017
Office of the President
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Dear President Faust,
We are grateful for your September 21 statements on Harvard’s behalf against the August 25 presidential memorandum prohibiting openly transgender individuals from serving in the United States Military.
Since January, a steady stream of new policies from the Trump administration have consistently removed rights from trans individuals. These policies have already created real hardship as well as mounting anxiety among trans individuals at Harvard and around the country.
The trans military ban is part of a larger, insidious pattern. Policies like the ban not only abridge the right of trans individuals to participate fully in civil society and government institutions -- they also deny the many contributions that trans individuals, including those currently serving in the military, have made to our country.
In 2007, the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus asked you to use your office to speak out against Don't Ask Don't Tell, criticizing the policy and noting its inconsistency with Harvard's own policies. Since then, significant progress has been made in extending equal opportunity to all those who wish to serve in the military. This progress has had a direct, positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community. This progress, however, was always precarious, and is now being reversed.
By speaking out against the trans military ban, you have disavowed those who wish to strip away the rights and dignity of trans individuals. You have also prevented those that wish to ignore the existence of trans people from continuing to do so. We believe that your clear affirmation of trans rights is an essential component of Harvard’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. As with the travel ban and the rescission of DACA protections, Harvard must continue to affirm the humanity, rights, and dignity of all members of the Harvard community.
We are hopeful that your successor will sustain your commitment to diversity and inclusion insofar as the LGBTQ+ community is concerned. In the meantime, we ask that you use your last year in office to strengthen this precedent, and advocate strongly on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. We further ask that you commit to responding swiftly to any further infringements undertaken by the Trump administration. It is vital that Harvard use its considerable prominence to speak out against injustice wherever it is found and make clear the values to which we all aspire.
Harvard Gender and Sexuality Caucus
LGBTQ and Allies at Harvard Medical School
Queer Students Association at Harvard Chan School of Public Health