University of Dallas Catholic School defends professor’s anti-trans message online


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The University of Dallas, a Catholic school, backs one of its professors after writing an online article criticizing President Joe Biden’s decision to appoint a trans woman, Dr. Rachel Levine, as assistant secretary in the ministry of Health and Social Services. .

Levine could make history as the first openly trans federal public servant to be confirmed by the Senate. This did not suit the UD chairman of its political philosophy department, David Upham.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Upham identified Levine by her former name, Richard, repeatedly referred to her as a man, and described her as “surgically mutilated” in her transition to being a trans woman.

“Dissenters will have to say ‘SHE’ and ‘WOMAN’ or ‘HIM’ and ‘MAN’ even if they know it is wrong,” Upham wrote. “Dissenters will have to pay for and provide hormonal treatments that will materially interfere with the ability of men and women to fulfill Almighty God’s command to be fruitful and multiply through the mutual attachment of men and women.”

A trans college graduate, who met their wife there, over 33 and whose three children attended college, took offense at the post and wrote an open letter asking UD to get rid of Upham .

Bethany A. Beeler, author and UD alumnus, said she was from a private social media group of LGBTQ graduates from the university. After one of the members shared Upham’s statement, Beeler told them that she would be happy to write an open letter for the others to sign.

“I no longer discuss such views that people like Professor Upham here espouse,” Beeler wrote. “He obviously believes, with religious conviction, what he says. I am writing to ask the Trustees, the Faculty Senate, the President and the Provost to take into account the judgment, character and aptitude of Professor Upham in his public publication of these remarks which he has since erased from his Facebook page.

The university and Upham did not respond to requests for comment.

Upham teaches constitutional and civil rights law and advises pre-law students. One of Beeler’s children had Upham as a teacher. Beeler said given the recent riot on Capitol Hill, it is crucial to examine people’s remarks and their potential to incite hatred and violence.

“Transphobia has another word: hate speech. “- Margaret Mary, UD graduate

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Beeler said Upham has the right to say, more or less, what he wants. But, Beeler worries about the students Upham teaches. “If he feels so free in the currently violent political atmosphere to publicly release such statements, we can hardly imagine what he feels free to say in class or to counselors,” she wrote.

UD in the ’80s, when Beeler was there, had a very “don’t ask, don’t tell” environment, she said. Despite this, Beeler spoke fondly of the university. She called it one of the few remaining places that honestly seeks the truth without excuses.

“It makes us graduates who and what we are, regardless of what we learned afterwards,” Beeler said. “I am simply asking the university that if you claim to seek the truth, shouldn’t this search for the truth be made accessible and safe to all members of our communities?”

The continued acts of violence against trans people here and elsewhere make her comments more worrying, Beeler said.

“… his inflammatory descriptions of trans people only promote prejudice, misconceptions and violence against us,” Beeler wrote. “Reassure our faith in the Western intellectual and theological tradition by providing neither refuge nor pulpit for those who espouse hatred for fear of difference. Be a beacon of Truth, Beauty and, above all, Love.

The university has stood up for Upham, and other faculty, alumni and students have sent a joint letter in support.

“We are called to write this letter for two reasons”, one can read. “First, we seek to stand up for an honest educator, a charitable mentor, and a good Catholic. Second, we seek to defend the University of Dallas from those who claim to love it while striving to change it.

His supporters hailed Upham as a hard worker and said his position was appropriate for a Catholic school staff member. “We must first stress that Dr. Upham’s message was very much in keeping with the teaching of the Church that God created human beings in his own image, that he created them male and female, that he created each person as an embodied soul (that is, as a union of body and soul), ”the letter said.

“… Anyone who accepts transgender cannot have too steadfast faith in Western intellectual and theological tradition, as gender ideology seeks to undermine and ultimately rewrite Western intellectual and theological tradition.”

The unidentified authors wrote that the Biden administration poses a threat to religious freedom and that Upham’s message was intended to warn of such a threat, not to incite violence. “A reasonable person may disagree with Dr Upham’s assessment, but only an unreasonable and intolerant person would view Dr Upham’s assessment as grounds for dismissal and ostracism.”

The letter was followed by a joint statement from outgoing quorum president Thomas S. Hibbs, and provost and incoming president Jonathan J. Sanford. “If anyone is wondering if we support Catholic teaching, we do,” they wrote. “Our Catholic identity and our fidelity to its teachings are at the heart of our mission. The university fully embraces the articulation of moral law by the Church, including its articulation of those truths which deal with the embodied nature of the human person and human sexuality.

They also said they would protect the civil rights of all members of the college community.

Beeler, who has a master’s degree in theology and pastoral and administration, has said nothing in Catholic teaching regarding trans identity. “It is not a question settled in Catholic education by any stretch of the imagination such that a professor of university politics would be able to weigh it happily as if it were a done deal,” she said. declared.

The American Conservative and christianmilitant.com marked the university’s solidarity with Upham as a victory for free speech and religious freedom. The American Conservative first reported on the controversy.

Not everyone saw it that way.

“Transphobia has another word: hate speech,” said Margaret Mary, a UD graduate and signatory of Beeler’s letter. “He can say whatever he wants, but he is not without consequences.”

Upham’s comments were an attack on Biden’s candidate, Mary said. “It was a mean post making fun of a real person and inventing fake dystopian nightmares in which he himself is forced to participate in transgender surgeries, a complete mistake.

“Really, it devalues ​​my degree and everyone’s degrees in an increasingly progressive world that our alma mater is sanctioning hate speech,” Mary said.

The university and Upham have already found themselves embroiled in a controversy over social issues. In early December, students who wanted to form a racial justice club faced opposition from other students and some professors who said the club would create too many divisions. Upham was one such teacher, according to Inside higher education, an online journal dedicated to higher education.

“It will be difficult for students to have the informality, relaxation, familiarity and easy equality that are essential to make friends and otherwise participate in this wonderful community, regardless of race,” Upham wrote to the time in a letter to college. .

Beeler said she doesn’t think much will change as a result of her letter. “The politics that will be born from a letter like this will not be seen for 10 or 20 years, and I fully expected it,” she said.


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