U Chicago students say school made them 'unsafe' by allowing a speaker to say 'tranny'

Katherine Timpf
The Claremont Independent

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  • Dan Savage used the word "tranny" as an example about how people can "reclaim" hurtful words to overcome them.
  • The incident triggered a student petition demanding the university denounce Savage and his hurtful language.
  • Students at the University of Chicago are up in arms after a speaker used the word “tranny” in a seminar —claiming it made them feel “unsafe” — even though it was only used as part of a discussion about how the word was hurtful.

    The event was an Institute of Politics (IOP) seminar on May 22 featuring Dan Savage, the founder of It Gets Better — a campaign designed to give hope to gay youth.

    “I used to make jokes about trannies.”   

    It was moderated by Ana Maria Cox, a political columnist for The Guardian.

    Savage used the word as an example about how people can reclaim hurtful words in order to overcome them, according to an article in The Chicago Maroon, the official student newspaper.

    The newspaper reported that, according to students, Cox added “I used to make jokes about trannies.”

    A student then interjected to say that the word was offensive, and Savage responded by listing other words and asking the student if those were acceptable to use.

    “This action upset the student to the point that they had to leave the room in a state of distress,” reads a student petition, titled “Denounce and prohibit the use of transphobic slurs at UChicago's Institute of Politics events.”

    The petition, which had more than 1,000 signatures at the time of publication, claims that speakers should only be able to use the word “t-slur.”

    IOP responded to the petition with a statement in which it declined to “sanction” Savage.

    “The speaker was discussing how hurtful words can be re-purposed and used to empower; at no point did he direct any slurs at anyone,” it stated.

    Neither the IOP nor U Chicago responded to requests for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter @kctimpf



    Katherine Timpf

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

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