Defining “Women”: Misstatement Over IUPUI’s R.A.D. Course Policy Prompts Title IX Violation Investigation

An IUPUI women’s self-defense course policy was recently placed under investigation of a potential Title IX violation after statements were made indicating the course’s possible exclusion of transgender females.

Rape Aggression Defense, also known as “R.A.D.,” is a self-defense class taught at IUPUI through the IUPUI university police department as a one credit course available only to students and employees who are women. IUPUI’s R.A.D. course is apart of R.A.D. Systems, an international self-defense education program that teaches courses at universities and law enforcement agencies all across the United States.

Photo courtesy of WFIU/WTIU News

Photo courtesy of WFIU/WTIU News

IUPUI police department’s Detective Kimberley Minor, the director and certified instructor of IUPUI’s R.A.D. class, stated the course’s definition of “women” as those who are “born naturally as a female.”

When asked if it would be hypothetically possible for transgender women to take R.A.D. at IUPUI, Minor replied with, “that’s under debate right now.”

Minor further explained that there are several department members who are “in disagreement” over whether transgender women should be able to take the course or not. The names and positions of these department members were not given.

Based upon the definition and statements given by Detective Minor, IUPUI’s R.A.D. course policy suggested toward the allowance of rejecting transgender females from taking the course, which would impede upon Title IX’s sex and gender discrimination prohibition statute. The course’s policy also posed the potential of creating conflict with IUPUI’s LGBTQ community.  

Emily Springston, chief student welfare & Title IX officer for the IU school systems, prompted the Indiana University police department to conduct an investigation to determine whether the R.A.D. program at IUPUI was in violation of the Title IX sex and gender discrimination prohibition statute.

According to Springston, IUPD contacted R.A.D. Systems for clarification and was able to confirm that the R.A.D. program at IUPUI is not in violation of Title IX and is “open to any student that identifies as female.”

“Registration [for the course] is still open,” Springston explained, “and [the IUPD] are not aware of any students being turned away.”

Springston also went on to mention that “[IUPD] have had outreach and knew of at least one situation of a transgender female calling to inquire and [IUPD] explained that course was open [to her].”     

When asked about the course’s definition of “women” and the additional statements originally given by Detective Minor, Springston commented that Minor “made a misstatement when describing the [IUPUI R.A.D.] course policies” and that it resulted from a “miscommunication.”

Tristan Vaught, director of the LGBTQ+ Center at IUPUI, works as the LGBTQ liaison with the IUPUI police and is all too familiar with the occasional miscommunication of course policy that infringes LGBTQ+ rights and equal opportunities governed by Title IX.

“I think it’s just something that gets overlooked sometimes,” Vaught said.

When asked about the relationship between the IUPUI police and the LGBTQ+ community at IUPUI, Vaught had nothing but positive things to say.

“The IU police actually are fantastic,” Vaught said. “They were my first safe zone training I did when I first got here [at IUPUI].”

Safe Zone is a training and support program that is apart of the IUPUI LGBTQ+’s “Allies Under Construction Tool Box.” According to the “Ally Trainings” section of the IUPUI Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion website, the program works as “first steps in becoming [an] ally and/or safer space for LGBTQ+ individuals.”

Despite the close connections kept with IUPUI police, Vaught wasn’t familiar with the R.A.D. course or aware of the “naturally born female” course policy definition misstatement given by Detective Minor.

“It’s kind of problematic when you say ‘woman born woman’,” Vaught said.

Vaught was enthusiastic and hopeful when asked how they will address this issue with IUPUI police.

“I’ve also been in contact for other reasons with the police chief over there, and we have a good working relationship,” they said. “I don’t see it as being a problem.”

When asked how Title IX serves students apart of the LGBTQ+ community, Vaught was confident and well spoken in their response.

“Title IX actually protects students a little bit more. We need to get with the times and make sure our policies are in line with that.”