The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt College Republicans host debate on gender transitions for minors, students protest event

The debate focused on the recently-passed Tennessee Senate Bill 1 which will prohibit doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries on minors as of July 1.
First-year+Mya+Doyle+questions+senior+Tucker+Apgar+during+the+first+cross-examination+of+the+debate%2C+captured+on+April+4%2C+2023.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FLaura+Vaughan%29
Laura Vaughan
First-year Mya Doyle questions senior Tucker Apgar during the first cross-examination of the debate, captured on April 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan)

CORRECTION: This article previously incorrectly stated that first-year Mya Doyle said hormone blockers stop a child’s reproductive organs from operating.

Editor’s Note: This piece contains anti-trans rhetoric.

Vanderbilt College Republicans hosted a debate on April 4 over whether minors should be legally allowed to undergo gender-affirming surgery, which the recently-passed Tennessee Senate Bill 1 prohibits. The debate was preceded by a protest from junior Chandler Quaile, who was removed from the room by VUPD, as well as earlier calls for the cancellation of the debate from Vanderbilt College Democrats and Vanderbilt Lambda Association. According to VCR President Shane Mumma, a senior, nearly 100 students attended the event.

The affirmative side, which argued in favor of SB 1, was debated by first-years Noah Jenkins, Mya Doyle and Elden Parker. The opposing side included junior Alec Boulton, first-year Jaylan Sims and senior Tucker Apgar. Jaylan Sims is a staff writer, photographer and podcaster for The Vanderbilt Hustler. VCR member Skyler Shipp, a sophomore, moderated the debate. Shipp previously has debated in VCR debates on the conservative side. 

The debate was initially advertised as moderated by outgoing Vanderbilt Student Government Vice President Ari Sasson, a junior, but The Hustler obtained documentation that Sasson did not agree to moderate a debate with this topic in writing to Mumma. Upon noticing the flyers including his name and photo, the documentation shows that he notified Mumma that he would not be moderating unless the topic was changed.

Opposition to debate

Before the debate began, Quaile, community relations director of Vanderbilt Lambda Association, protested the event, saying into a megaphone that the debate was offensive to transgender individuals. He also said the audience was complicit in the spreading of hatred and asked the Democratic representatives to step down and not support the debate.

After Quaile spoke, he was escorted out of the building by a VUPD officer. Boulton and Mumma remarked how he should not have protested and, instead, should have voiced his opinion to the organizers before the debate. He then went on to address Quaile’s claims that the Democratic side of the debate should step down, saying that free speech was under attack on campus and it is important that debates like this exist.

Chandler Quaile is taken to the loading bay behind Rand and Sarratt by VUPD officers, captured on April 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan)
Chandler Quaile is taken to the loading bay behind Rand and Sarratt by VUPD officers, captured on April 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan)

VUPD later stated that an officer approached Quaile, who had been asked to refrain from continuing the protest or leave, upon which he “peacefully and cordially” left the event. 

Mumma stated that Quaile was removed by VUPD due to his efforts to “intimidate people to leave,” and that he could have participated in the debate or Q&A session instead to make his voice heard. He also mentioned that VCR has VUPD officers at all of their events that “generate controversy” to assure the safety of attendees.

During a debate on March 21 for the VSG student body elections moderated by The Hustler, vice-president-elect and junior Kendelle Grubbs stated that the VCR debate on April 4 was “potentially opening up the space for bigotry” and that events like these can make LGBTQ+ students feel unsafe. Mumma responded to Grubbs’s comments in an email to The Hustler, saying that he was disappointed by that and called upon students that encourage “civil dialogue” to vote against candidates who “denounce debates.”

I don’t think it’s productive to denounce debates,” Mumma said. “I think debates like this are very important on college campuses, especially a school like Vanderbilt, where we value free speech so much.”

On March 23, Vanderbilt College Democrats posted a statement on its Instagram page condemning the debate, clarifying it is not involved with the event and that the topic is offensive to LGBTQ+ students.

“Hosting this event mere weeks after TN enacted some of the most oppressive anti-trans legislation in the country is incredibly tone deaf and attendance at these sort of events tells trans and LGBTQ+ students that their existences on our campus is up for debate,” the post said. 

Mumma also claimed that Boulton was removed from the Vanderbilt College Democrats organization earlier for participating in the debate. VCD President Claire Reber clarified that Boulton was not kicked out of the organization, but was removed from their GroupMe after he advertised the debate that VCD had condemned. 

Vanderbilt Lambda Association also made a statement via Instagram on April 3 denouncing the topic of the debate.

“The Vanderbilt Lambda Association condemns the Vanderbilt College Republicans for their hateful, dangerous, and tasteless debate over the lives of transgender people and necessary, life-saving health care,” the statement said. “We also urge the wider Vanderbilt community to boycott this debate. Our lives and rights are NOT up for debate.”

Debate 

The debate consisted of three rounds of speaking, with both sides giving a five-minute statement and followed by a five-minute unmoderated cross-examination between the two speakers. The fourth round consisted of one five-minute concluding statement from each side to summarize their respective arguments.

Jenkins opened by claiming that “transgenderism” is an “illness” and proposed that this “disease” is mental. Boulton opened by stating that sex and gender are two separate concepts.

After the openings, Doyle spoke about the potential effects of hormone blockers, specifically relating to fertility.

“Every youth considering puberty blockers must be told: No pubertal hormones, no sexual fertility,” Doyle said. 

Mayo Clinic states that hormone blockers do not affect fertility nor do they have other lasting effects if ceased, according to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. 

Apgar responded to Doyle’s argument, stating that puberty blockers are reversible. 

“Lawmakers are making the assumption that we are taking draconian measures by taking kids into surgery… when this is simply not the case,” Apgar said. “You can obviously ask what stage is appropriate to begin considering decisions related to transitioning, but if you are having persistent distress…that’s why having gender-affirming care is important.”

Parker provided another five-minute argument for the affirmative, arguing that a child could express their gender differently from traditional gender roles without being transgender.

During his five-minute argument, Sims argued that children whose gender identities are not accepted by society are in danger of suicide.

“Gender transformation is a medically necessary primary care for transgender and gender diverse children,” Sims said. “It is not a joke, as some Republicans would say, or a cosmetic procedure, but rather a crucial aspect of their overall health and well-being.”

After the debate ended, Quaile explained in an interview why he chose to protest at the event.

“[VCR] decided that platforming hate was more important than the trans students on this campus who are fighting every day to be loved, accepted and supported,” Quaile said in a message to The Hustler. “My only hope is that students understood how violent these ideas are and how platforming bigotry normalizes it.”

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About the Contributors
Zach Joseph, News Copy Editor
Zach Joseph ('25) is from Chicago, Ill., and is majoring in law, history and society with a minor in Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the News section. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can find him going for a run around campus, passionately watching soccer games or discussing how much he enjoys AP Style. You can contact him at [email protected].
Laura Vaughan, Senior Staff Photographer
Laura Vaughan ('25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in mathematics and economics. When not out on an assignment for The Hustler, she can be found studying in St. Augustine’s Chapel, having lunch at Rothschild or at the Rec. She is available at [email protected].
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Comments (6)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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F
5 months ago

Fox News just wrote a second article about—highly recommend giving it a read: https://www.foxnews.com/media/vanderbilt-gop-democrats-boycott-trans-kids-debate-attack-free-discussion-worse

V
Vandy Student
5 months ago

This is in Fox News now

A
Anonymous
5 months ago

It’s crazy how speech is now deemed as violence, and yet no one listens to the other side. First, a debate is not threatening to anyone’s life. There is a moral obligation to protect the youth of our nation and that is the purpose of conversations like this, not to say transgender individuals do not have a right to life. Second, shutting down the conversation shuts down free speech and in a country that values freedom and liberty, that is the true danger. Third, there are very few quotes from the actual debate: what was said that is calling for violence or condemning the existence of transgender people? And finally, healthcare is actually not a right. The only people in America who have a legitimate right and guarantee to health care are prisoners. The victim complex is insane, especially after a woman just shot up a Christian school recently–which side is the violent one?

C
Class of 2023
5 months ago

Lmao… as someone who was actually at the debate, this article is not representative at all of what happened. Sad the Hustler spins the story so far that this article has become an opinion piece. Chandler was in the event for not even a minute before being removed and they interviewed him, yet nobody who actually went to watch

M
Morgan Johnson
5 months ago

It’s funny to read the hypocrisy of the quotes pulled by VCR members in response to Chandler’s protesting the event when they’ve also been quoted advocating for “free speech”… I guess Chandler just didn’t do it right? It’s also inane to pretend that debates that allow space for people to denounce gender-affirming care are in any way productive, especially considering the political climate and attitudes in Nashville over the past few months. The rough quote, “transgenderism is an illness” is still shaking me… Grateful as always for student leaders like Kendelle and Chandler.

A
Anonymous
5 months ago
Reply to  Morgan Johnson

Not allowing someone to shout down a debate with a megaphone is not a violation of free speech. Shutting down free speech is not a requirement of free speech. Any one who wished to represent either side of the debate was allowed to do so. Chandler Quaile decided not to participate in the debate nor press the Republican side during Q&A. Instead, he decided that no one should be allowed to hear opposing opinions on a debate spanning the entire country.