Alum Profile: Lawrence Schuessler ('05)

October 25, 2018 - By Prescott College

The Stanford University Instructor Worries About The Effects Of Proposed Title IX Changes On Transgender Students

Lawrence Schuessler

The Department of Health and Human Services has called on agencies to adopt terminology that defines gender on “a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” In a summary, they are proposing gender to be defined at birth and immutable. Lawrence Schuessler, Stanford University instructor and Prescott College alum, recognizes this issue as something in the forefront of our experience in this country and, more specifically, in college settings. As an instructor at Stanford, Schuessler is “aware of how students here are fighting back but I am curious how smaller universities are fairing.”

The current definity of gender identity in the Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. The proposal to redefine this definition would eliminate protection for transgender people. “I am deeply saddened that this country, this administration wants to diminish my existence” says Schuessler. “I am concerned that folks do not recognize how hard and unsafe it is to currently be a transgendered person in this country and abroad. I am concerned for young people that are in college that are beginning to, or have found their voice, only to be told that they are not worthy, they do not count.”

When asked how this proposal to redefine gender identity could affect students’ sense of belonging in their educational environment, Schuessler expanded to include transgender people in their everyday life. “The impact from this can and will shut people down, displace many and further hurt folks that are simply trying to live their lives. The impact could include folks losing their homes, losing their communities, losing  any security or sense of belonging. People could lose their lives or be physically hurt beyond repair. it is too early to tell of the widening circle of impact, but I know it will be deep and crushing.”

Lawrence credits the time spent at Prescott College to connect with the natural environment of the Colorado Plateau and develop community. “I bonded with some of most honest, fun, and caring people I know in the world. I found my friend family and I found my voice. I also found parts of my body that I like and the courage to transition to a body that feels like home to me during my time at Prescott College.”

While Lawrence found the town of Prescott wasn’t always accepting, Lawrence felt welcomed at Prescott College. “The Adventure Education community is very open and supportive, and I was able to find mentors and peers that supported me and many are still in my life! I was lucky to find Prescott College.”

Schuessler also gives some credit to Prescott College for success beyond graduation. “I realized that to be in the world, in life, in work, in whatever, I need to build relationships and lead with my heart, to find other like-minded folks and to take risks. I have all I need to carve my own path, and even when life is scary, I can keep going. Any change that needs to happen in the world can happen if I trust my inner voice and make room for others.”