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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Champine: Show Them U Belong

Until the U stands against hate, students must stand with Mecha.
Xiangyao Tang
Demonstrators, including members of Mecha, at the Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah’s watch party in J. Willard Marriott Library in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 01, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


On Nov. 1, what started as an ad for a watch party evolved into a protest on the University of Utah’s campus. The Young Americans for Freedom showed the film “Damaged: The Transing of America’s Kids” which they advertised across campus with transphobic flyers that said “The transgender movement harms women” and “Men shouldn’t be in women’s bathrooms.” When faced with such hate on campus, speaking up as loudly as we can becomes our only option.

In an interview with the Chronicle, YAF President Lucy Atwood said, “Everyone is trying to get YAF at Utah to shut down just because we have different thoughts.” YAF also posted their defense on Instagram, which equated transphobic hate with diversity of thought.

However, the protest wasn’t staged because of a difference of opinion. Mecha de U of U staged it in response to the anti-trans violence YAF’s messaging serves to promote. Disagreeing with others is not the same as dehumanizing them. YAF’s posters aim to poison other students’ thoughts on transgender students, many of whom are simply trying to live their lives.

Don’t get it mixed up: diversity of thought is welcome on the U’s campus, but intentionally targeting an entire group of people with inflammatory posters is not. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Resist YAF’s Presence

YAF refuses to acknowledge the harm their transphobic propaganda causes on campus. They’ve done it before.

On April 22, YAF hosted Natalie Cline and Monica Wilbur in a presentation on “LGBTQ indoctrination” and critical race theory. They also hosted a watch party for the transphobic film “What is a Woman?” during the 2023 U Pride Week.

Just like their latest stunt, posters advertising the watch party featured offensive imagery of trans people. Students protested against Cline and Wilbur and reported the posters to the U.

When the U won’t stand up for their students, students prove they will stand up for themselves. Mecha takes up much of the anti-oppression work that serves our campus, exemplifying the vital power of the people. Following Nov. 1’s protest, a U student who requested anonymity for safety purposes said, “The students today showed what they stood for and their values, and the people will always have more power than individual organizations.”

U students are not afraid to organize, and we can’t stop now. The fight is nowhere near over.

The U’s Hypocrisy

On Nov. 9, the Center for Equity and Student Belonging withdrew its sponsorship of Mecha. As a result, Mecha will lose around $11,000 in funding.

CESB said it shares Mecha’s concern over the danger recent events caused students on campus. One U Thriving also released a statement in support of an inclusive campus, but if the U truly supported an inclusive campus, it wouldn’t have withdrawn its support for Mecha. If their concern were genuine, the U would denounce YAF. But it hasn’t, and students across campus are calling out the U’s hypocrisy. One U student protesting with Mecha, Lauren Johnson, said “We can’t share the stage with bigotry.”

CESB hides behind technicalities and policies to avoid speaking out against YAF, claiming the group has a legal right to speak their minds peacefully. People must understand there is nothing peaceful about YAF’s transphobic propaganda. However, it seems problems only arise for the U when students speak up against the hate that impacts their lives.

The U also canceled Mecha’s High School Conference, leaving Mecha organizers and the hundreds of students scheduled to attend heartbroken. Seeing representation at a college level is vital for marginalized high school students. By canceling this event at the last second, the U further snubbed Mecha.

The U has failed its transgender students and students of color by choosing to protect the students who spew hate at them. Its empty words condemning organized acts of bigotry are not enough. The U cannot allow YAF to post anti-transgender propaganda around campus and must call out YAF for hate speech. It must also restore MECHA’s status as a sponsored organization immediately. Otherwise, the U has picked its place in history — the side of the oppressors.

Until it does, U students must stand with Mecha and ensure no one faces bigotry alone. We’ve seen an amazing turnout as students flooded the Marriott Library in support of transgender rights, joining together as one voice to push back against hate. Hundreds of students have walked out in support of Palestine. Let’s keep it going.

If we do not stand with Mecha, we stand with bigotry.


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About the Contributors
Morgan Champine
Morgan Champine, Assistant Opinion Editor
(they/them) Morgan Champine is pursuing a career in creative writing and majoring in English. Morgan was born and raised in Utah, and when they're not writing, they're attending concerts, exploring the outdoors, and reading.
Xiangyao Tang
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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  • J

    John HedbergNov 21, 2023 at 4:59 am

    Dear Siblings,

    A large and growing number of post-surgical transgender persons are realizing in retrospect that they were not feeling at home in their own body for reasons which had nothing to do with gender, and now that they’ve chosen irreversible removal of body organs that can never be replaced (for instance, they can never have children), there have been a growing number of suicides reported by the leading transgender institutes in Europe, which are a few years ahead of this country when it comes to treating true gender dysphoria. My question is why some of you are apparently so transphobic that you deny, suppress, and refuse to inclusively #Listen to the diverse lived experiences of suffering people whose feelings may differ from your own, by showing them empathy and compassion as if you value their humanity the same way you value others. Why do you devalue the humanity of these transgender people whose experience may be diverse from your own?

    Your sit-in “activism” sounds like a “terrible 2-year-old” in a high chair giving everyone else in the room indigestion. Words actually mean things. Your own hyperbolic accusations demand that you define who’s been harmed for sharing their feelings and perspective, and how they’ve been harmed any worse than you may have harmed others by sharing yours, and why you think that anyone who doesn’t share your own feelings is somehow less human than you, which seems to be the case that you’re making: agree with your feelings, and we’re being “compassionate” and “virtuous”, but include any diversity by showing compassion for any feelings and facts which you deny or don’t agree with, and we’re somehow less than human, which seems to be your argument?

    Well, you can PROJECT your own “clownishness” and paint it onto everyone else for daring to be inclusive of any diversity you don’t happen to feel compassionate about, or you can choose not to oppress other people’s feelings whose experiences may be just as valid as your own, and choose not to attempt to silence and suppress other voices which may be hurting for reasons just as real – or even more real – as your own reasons for feeling as you do. It’s amazing what listening can do. (Hence, free speech and the 1st Amendment).

    You may want to bang your rattle on your high chair and demand that nobody else’s feelings and experience should matter if they don’t agree with yours, but at the same time, you shout down and refuse to listen to any new information which may demand that you grow a little in your own views and compassion. Instead of being an adult listener who chooses to hear every human person’s experience and reasons with equal empathy, you rail at the rest of us for not instantly serving your feelings alone, like a 2-year-old demanding a candy fix or (more to the point) a diaper change.

    That’s the only “direct harm” that’s actually happening here: your diaper-loaded tantrum is hurting the ears of those choosing to be adults in the room who are here trying to find Love (which is true justice) and genuine peace through clarity and empathy for every human being, not just the ones you choose to acknowledge as human, since that’s what your oppression/suppression attempts to do: dehumanize and dismiss other people as if they are somehow less valuable than you, as if they should never be listened to because they don’t hold the same value in your own feelings as other human beings, which is how Germany’s National Socialists (Nazi’s) viewed the world, and they’re the ones who actually committed atrocities and genocide, not by speaking truths your feelings don’t agree with, but by suppressing, oppressing, dehumanizing, and eliminating any person whose feelings departed from their own pathological narcissism (only their “facts” and feelings mattered). Nobody confronted their tantrum before it got out of control, so maybe you might want to confront your own, before you actually let yours spill over in a way which hurts beyond mere contradiction of feelings (stinky diapers). When you justify your own hate by dehumanizing others, you become the enemy you paint them to be, and that’s truly worth crying about.

    Grow a little, show a gram of humility and scientific inquiry, and have genuine empathy for all your neighbors (i.e. “show a spine” like a grown-up), no matter what false narratives you’re being fed, then get back to the rest of us, and you’ll finally find your safe space: your family. We’re all your family. All of us.

    Look at yourself, question yourself, and Love your neighbor as yourself, since they are just as human as you, just as fallible as you, and just as Lovable as you, in God’s eyes By Any Name, and in each other’s, if we’re honest and choose to value each other the way good parents do, which is Love.

    Kind Regards, with that Love,
    J Hedberg

    P.s. I’m “BIPOC”, but I have different views than every other intersectional person who’s also BIPOC – different views than you, if you can imagine! So… when you assume you know my opinion just because of how I look or identify, the racist is you: something to keep in mind~ 😋