On Feb. 22, President Donald Trump made yet another divisive move in the early days of his presidency. He rescinded protections allowing transgender students to use the school restroom of the gender with which they identify, soundly rejecting the Obama administration’s previously established stance that nondiscrimination laws require transgender students to be given this choice.
It’s not just the Obama administration; in December 2014, the Department of Education ruled that gender identity is protected under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Trump’s action is inhumane, potentially dangerous for transgender students, and based on unfounded fears. Putting transgender students in the position to have to use the restroom of their biological sex creates a hostile environment for these children and teens who are already often facing tremendous hardship and difficulty.
Imagine the discomfort a cisgender woman would feel if she were forced to use the men’s public restroom, or a cisgender man into a women’s room. This is how it feels for transgender people in this situation. It’s sending a lamb into a lion’s den.
Transgender students, along with their lesbian, gay and bisexual counterparts, face heightened risk of violence and frequently fear for their safety. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey from between the years 2001 and 2009 found 12 to 28 percent of LGBT students had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. A national study of middle and high school LGBT students cited on the Center for Disease Control’s website showed 61.1 percent of these students were more likely to feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of their orientation.
All of this fear and danger arise because of the basic human need to use the restroom in a place where a child should be safe and learning.
Living in this fear takes a toll on transgender children and teens and it often follows them into adulthood. According to the Trevor Project, a national study found 40 percent of transgender adults reported having made suicide attempts. Out of this group, 92 percent said it was before the age of 25. The report also stated that each episode of LGBT victimization, including physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increased the likelihood of self-harming behaviors by 2.5 times on average.
Those in favor of making transgender students use the restroom corresponding with their biological sex claim it’s in the interest of safety. Fear runs rampant and people claim allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom of the gender they identify with could put others in harm’s way, possibly leading to sexual assaults and violence, particularly by transgender women against cisgender women.
The statistics tell a different story.
According to spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, absolutely no statistical evidence exists to warrant these actions.
The Advocate said there have been zero verified reports of cisgender individuals ever being harassed in a public restroom by transgender persons, nor have there been any confirmed documented cases of male predators pretending to be female in order to gain access to women’s restrooms.
Zero, zip, zilch.
In spite of the general public’s lack of education and understanding about the subject, scientific evidence has found that transgender persons possess the brain structures of the gender with which they identify. It’s theorized that this change in neurobiology could be attributed to hormonal fluctuations and imbalances during pregnancy.
Bias against transgender people makes as much sense as being opposed to left handed people. Transgender people are simply born that way; it’s how their brains are wired. And many feel it from the time they are small children.
Imagine dealing with the feeling that you were born in the wrong body, and being a child trying to go to school while facing the prejudice and lack of understanding that permeates society. Imagine looking like a girl and being forced to use the boys’ restroom and having to worry about being beat up or sexually assaulted by other kids from school, another frightening possibility transgender kids face.
This is the reality Trump’s action is creating for transgender kids across the nation. He is declaring open season against these children.
Being forced to use the school restroom corresponding with a transgender child’s biological sex places them in a potentially dangerous situation, physically and psychologically. The CDC stated that, for LGBT students, a positive school climate can help decrease depression, suicidal feelings and actions, substance abuse, and unexcused school absences. The restroom transgender kids can use has a huge impact on their wellbeing and Trump’s action are endangering them for no good reason, other than prejudice and misunderstanding.
Just like everyone else, transgender people want to live their lives in safety and peace. So why won’t Trump let them?