Jason Hill denies making transphobic statements despite student testimony

DePaul professor Jason Hill.

DePaul University

DePaul professor Jason Hill.

Philosophy professor Jason Hill has made numerous controversial statements during his time at DePaul, including Zionist sentiments in an op-ed published in The Federalist. This month allegations arose that Hill has made derogatory comments regarding trans women, which may contradict the school’s discrimination and harassment policies.

According to a former student of Hill, Grace Gallant, “[Hill] is violently transphobic and said that we would be discussing ‘if a biological man could ever be a woman’ which is not just offensive and hurtful, but it’s so archaic, useless and immature to have these kinds of conversations in class.”

Gallant also mentioned they switched out of his class because of this incident.

“The accusations made by [a student] against me… are inaccurate. I do not have a transphobic bone in my body…. I’ll have no further comments beyond that,” Hill told The DePaulia.

On Jan. 21, Hill also tweeted “Trans people should be treated with dignity. Agreed. Trans women ought not to be competing in sports with biological women. Why? Transwomen are still biological men with all the physical privileges of male strength. This move is misogynistic and a declaration of war against WOMEN.”

While DePaul was unable to comment on the situation specifically, Kristin Matthews, a member of DePaul’s public relations team, said “DePaul University is committed to preserving an environment that respects the personal rights and dignity of each member of its community and providing an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.”

“The university’s Title IX Coordinator/Director of Gender Equity is responsible for receiving, processing, and investigating a complaint that an employee has engaged in discrimination, harassment, or retaliation on the basis of sex, gender, or gender identity,” Matthews added.

According to DePaul’s discrimination and harassment policies, “…examples of harassment in violation of this policy include, but are not limited to, verbal abuse, offensive innuendo, derogatory comments, or the open display of offensive objects or pictures…”

Hill’s tweet stating trans women are at a physical advantage is largely untrue scientifically. The idea that people who are assigned male at birth have greater physical advantages is a misconception that is often used to discriminate against trans athletes, specifically trans women. 

“A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance,” said Dr. Joshua Safer, endocrinologist and executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

Furthermore, the testosterone levels of an athlete do not necessarily correlate with enhanced performance. Testosterone levels vary between individuals, regardless of their sex, and men and women tend to have overlapping levels of testosterone. For instance, Caster Semenya, a middle-distance runner and cisgender (cis) woman, has naturally high occuring testosterone levels.

There is one study which assesses the effects of gender-affirming hormone therapy on trans female athletes, and the results contradict Hill’s tweet that trans women benefit from physical advantages having been born male. 

“This study analyzed race times for eight transgender female runners, who have competed in distance races as both male and female, using a mathematical model called age grading,” the study reads. “Collectively, the age graded scores for these eight runners are the same in both genders.”

The study shows that after undergoing gender-affirming treatment, including lowering testosterone levels, the athletes’ performance reduced so that their performance was now proportionally the same to cis women. 

In fact, some body changes among trans women may result in a poorer net performance in relation to cis women. 

“For example, the fact that transgender women who go through typically male puberty will tend to have larger bones than [cis] women may actually be a disadvantage,” Safer said. “Having larger bones without corresponding levels of testosterone and muscle mass would mean that a runner has a  bigger body to propel with less power to propel it.”

Hill’s tweet upholds a negative trope that trans women are a threat to cis women. Safer asserts that trans women do not necessarily have greater physical advantages over cis athletes.

Hill also refers to trans women as being biological men, which is harmful language that reduces people to their biology. Referring to a trans person as being biologically male or female implies that biology is inherently binary, which is false. 

Biology is more complex than people with penises being men and those with vaginas being women. Instead, biology is composed of five main components: chromosomes, hormones, hormonal expression and internal and external genitalia.

Referring to trans women as biological men is also redundant because the term “trans woman” implies a woman who was assigned male at birth.

While language changes over time, referring to trans women as “biological men” is outdated terminology that oversimplifies a very complex subject.

“I’m shocked that [Hill] still has a platform at DePaul,” Gallant said. “It’s one thing to be open to all views, which I do value. But when the view is challenging the validity of student’s identities, there is a line crossed.”