By Damali Ramirez ‘18
During his presidency, Barack Obama issued guidance to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity in public schools.
The guidance was Obama’s method to prevent bullying and discrimination against the LGBT community and assure their safety in public schools.
A 1972 law, Title IX, bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools that receive federal money. Controversial debates are quickly rising after the Trump administration withdrew Obama’s guidance last month.
Donald Trump has stated before that transgender bathroom rights is a state issue, not a federal one. However, these transgender students are in danger in the states that oppress their rights.
South Dakota approved a bill in February that requires students to use bathrooms and other facilities that correspond with their biological sex. This attracts unwanted attention towards the transgender community. Non-transgender students can ask them to leave the bathroom or physically abuse them. They can also attempt to deny them access to both gender bathrooms if they find them to be unwelcomed. .
In the Huffpost Queer Voices blog, Justin Adkins wrote, “And let’s be real, they often are not just yelled at and told to leave, they often face physical violence, sometimes they can even face death.” In his blog post, Adkins discusses his experience as a transgender male and how unfair North Carolina is treating the community.
On March 23, 2016, North Carolina also passed a bill that prevents transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that doesn’t match their assigned gender. North Carolina passed the anti-LGBT law because they feared men would dress up as women, claim they’re transgender, and commit sexual misdemeanors in bathrooms.
According to the Huff Post, “In the 17 states and 200 cities that expressly permit transgender people to use whatever bathrooms they want, there has been no increase in sexual assault of any kind, notes this thorough debunking of transgender bathroom myths.” Even with clear evidence pointing against the bill, North Carolina refuses to get rid of the statute that discriminates and abuses the rights of transgender students..
So why not create gender-neutral bathrooms that allow people to feel comfortable and safe? After all, gender-neutral bathrooms have been a success in Europe. In Berlin, unisex bathrooms are seen as normal bathrooms to its citizens. The transition occurred 18 months ago and society did not see it as a big deal. The bathroom doors contain universal gender signs for men, women, transgender, and intersex.
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump was asked about changing bathrooms for transgender people. According to The New York Times, he stated: “First of all, I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way. It would be unbelievably expensive for businesses and for the country. Leave it the way it is.” He used Caitlyn Jenner as an example stating that he would feel comfortable allowing her to use any bathroom she pleased in the Trump Tower.
Yet after being in office for two months, Trump has contradicted the promises of allowing transgenders to use the bathroom they desire. Rather than dealing with the injustice, he is allowing conservative political influences to enforce their traditional viewpoints. This further promotes discrimination against transgender people and builds a society that accepts this.