Basic Rights Oregon sent the below in a letter to the organizers of the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) on Friday, February 14, 2014.
TO: PIELC, Land Air Water
CC: Michael Moffitt
Philip H. Knight Dean
University of Oregon School of Law
FR: Jeana Frazzini, Basic Rights Oregon
RE: Lierre Keith as keynote speaker at PIELC
Over the past few weeks, transgender community members, their allies, and advocates across the state have brought an urgent issue to the attention of Basic Rights Oregon. We were deeply concerned when we were made aware that the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) plans to feature Lierre Keith as one of their keynote speakers between February 27th and March 2nd, 2014. Keith is an environmental activist who is known for her anti-transgender views. She has consistently minimized the identities of transgender people and has been quoted as saying “men insisting that they are women is insulting and absurd.”
Basic Rights Oregon works with transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming communities in Eugene and across the state. We believe that statements like Keith’s are not only marginalizing, but they are dangerous. Comments like these increase an already hostile climate for transgender people, who face widespread violence and discrimination. In a survey by that National Center for Trans Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, 54% of transgender Oregonians reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation or service (including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies). 83% of transgender Oregonians reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job based on their gender identity.
Keith’s viewpoints and those of her organization, Deep Green Resistance, predominately target transgender women. In Oregon and across the country, transgender women are at increased risk of violence, discrimination, and harassment. In particular, transgender women of color are targeted disproportionately as reported by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Many organizations including Basic Rights Oregon have more work to do in terms of fully addressing the needs of transgender women (especially transgender women of color). As one part of that process, we urge the University of Oregon and PIELC to remove Keith as a speaker due to her exclusionary statements and harmful viewpoints.
We believe that justice includes all of us, and Basic Rights urges PIELC to host speakers who embrace the wide array of individuals involved in the environmental movement, including transgender people and people of color, and those at the intersections of these identities.
For questions regarding this please contact Interim Program Director tash shatz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: News: Transgender Justice