A Comment on a Local Issue
Recently, a local school district modified its bathroom policy, for the first time taking into account transgender students. In seeing some parental reactions at the Board of Education meeting and reading the comments on the local news’ Facebook, I think it’s important to explain and clarify for many good people who simply don’t understand the whole issue of transgender youth, the basics of gender identity, how physical configuration plays its part, and the importance of being able to use the bathroom safely and comfortably.
Let’s be clear: this is the high school policy at the moment, affecting grades 9 through 12 with the approximate ages 14/15 to 17/18, depending on where the birthdays fall.
In viewing the reactions, this also seems to be more of an issue for the parents and non-parent community members and not the actual students (or former students) of the school.
Transgender issues as well as orientation, which is a completely separate discussion should already be covered in health class. If it’s not, it might be time to include some modifications to that curriculum to make it more comprehensive to today’s issues so that misinformation doesn’t continue into adulthood like it obviously has as I witnessed by many of the adult community members, parents and non-parents alike.
One of the comments said to “hold it”. I don’t know if this was said facetiously, and it was directed at both trans and non-trans students, but this is not only a childish response, it is also bad health and ridiculous that an adult would even suggest it for a child, let alone his own.
They described transgender children as being part of a liberal agenda, as being gay, that their gender expression and life choices shouldn’t be used to make school wide policy. All of these statements and assumptions are made based on outdated misinformation and bigoted notions that really need to be addressed and to educate these parents.
Although I would disagree with those against this policy, there is a difference between being against a school policy and stating your reasons and knee-jerking your reaction based on prejudices.
With gender, identity =/= expression, although there is some overlap. Trans people can be straight, gay, bisexual or other orientation. One example of gender expression might be a boy wearing a dress or skirt or high heeled shoes. That is a style choice. I would note that when girls dress as boys it is often easily accepted.
I’ve seen boys wear skirts to protest a dress code aimed solely at girls and no one would accuse them of being girls. They would not use the girls’ bathroom and no one would suggest it.
A trans girl is not playing dress up or making a fashion statement. Their identity is more complicated than what they choose to wear, and if they are asking to dress and use the bathroom facilities for the gender in which they identify, they have come to that decision through a series of discussions with themselves, their parents, and more than likely professional health care providers and mental health associates.
For many, the feeling that they were put in the wrong body is a painful realization and not one that is made lightly, either in private or in public and fear of peer reaction and bullying is tantamount to staying closeted. The fact that this school district is making an effort should be applauded.
Trans girls are girls; they will grow up to be women. They are female. They might have a penis, but that doesn’t change their gender identity of female and as with many young females, they are more comfortable using the bathroom facilities and dressing as their same gender peers.
It is the same for trans boys, men, males. They might have a vagina; some might have breasts developing, but if their gender is male, they are male. They use the boys’ bathroom and locker room.
It really is that simple.
There was one comment that there aren’t gender neutral bathrooms in the “real world.” Not always, no, but in the “real world” trans women use women’s rooms; not men’s. In addition to that, in the real world, when I’m using an adjacent stall or washing my hands, there is no reason whatsoever that I should be observing the genitals of the stranger using the toilet next to me. It’s not as though you do this to non-transgender individuals, assuming you could pick them out from cisgender people.
Another misconception is that if trans youth use their preferred bathroom, they are only doing that to get into the opposite gender’s bathroom to prey on them. This is generally assumed to be trans girls. For one thing, this discounts gay and lesbian students from using their assigned at birth gender bathroom with other students that they may feel attracted to. We don’t separate LGB youth from their preferred bathroom (nor should we), but this stereotype needs to die.
Gay =/= predator
LGB people, youth or otherwise are not attracted to every person they come in contact with. They are also no more likely to prey on someone sexually than anyone else in the school.
Trans =/= gay
Trans =/= predator
Trans =/= rapist
Transgender =/= transvestite or cross dresser.
From what some of the parents were saying about students [boys mainly, another stereotype] pretending to be transgender to get into the girls’ bathroom and rape them because now they have access don’t understand that rape is primarily an act of violence and power; it is not about sex or attraction.
Rape is not a well thought out exercise in “getting some.”
Boys [and girls] are not thinking, ‘man if only I could get into the opposite gender’s bathroom, I could have all the sex I want and no one could stop me.’
Yeah, it does sound stupid when you put it like that.
This would suggest that gay youth are already doing this, and we know that they are not.
This also seems to imply a very low opinion of their own children [boys mainly] and the bigoted, out of date notion that boys can’t control themselves when around someone they’re attracted to.
Transgender isn’t topical or cool. Transgender isn’t a label that you can put on and take off like a hat. Transgender kids have gone through a lot emotionally and psychologically to be able to come out to their parents, their teachers, their peers, and for the students who haven’t come out, but are living their gender identity shouldn’t need to announce what’s in their pants to use their preferred bathroom.
They shouldn’t be accused of being a predator for using the bathroom.
Being a teenager is hard enough without arguing over the merits of something transgender kids have no control over, any more than you have control over the color of your eyes. And if you think that a teenager would claim to be transgender when they aren’t, you need more than this little blurb for your education. No one would subject themselves to that kind of scrutiny and bullying and harassment if they weren’t transgender.
Of the LGBT+ community, transgender youth are at higher risk for homelessness, for being victims to sexual predators, for being assaulted, and horribly murdered. This morning, another woman was murdered while pounding on a door screaming for help.
We should be making middle school and high school better for everyone, not make an already disparaged group feel even more ostracized by repeating hurtful, wrong, and bigoted things we heard when we were kids. We should be willing to educate ourselves for all of our kids’ sakes so that at the end of the day, they can come to us with anything, without having to worry about our response.
This Board is moving in the right direction, and it is the direction that all schools will eventually follow, so read up from reliable sources and then speak out with your concerns if you still have any.