Bathroom choice: a civil right

By Victoria Lavelle

Special to The Communitarian

A federal policy that safeguarded transgender students and approved them to use restrooms matching their gender identities in public schools has been axed by President Donald Trump.

The presidential rule strips the federal guidelines and civil right protections issued by the Obama administration last year by tossing the issue back onto the individual states to decide.

The Trump administration’s stark effort to halt nationwide protections in school bathrooms and locker rooms for transgenders is an outrageous attack on the most vulnerable of students.

Fortunately, Trump’s reversal is likely to be simply a temporary hold, pending a legal challenge in the high courts, thanks to a courageous 17-year-old transsexual student in Virginia named Gavin Grimm. Grim and his team of lawyers are standing up against his school board for the right to use the bathroom that matches his gender identity, and his case is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later this month. If heard, a vote could overturn President Trump’s decision to strip civil protections from transgender pupils.

These students don’t seek special treatment; they just want the same protections that their classmates have. Sending a trans-female into the mens room, or a trans-male into the ladies room is fundamentally wrong and ignorant.

A 2016 study, conducted by The Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, estimates .06 percent or 1.4 million American adults identify as transgender. More transgenders are integrating into colleges, careers, and societies across the nation. Although these folks are all around us, they may not be visible to the naked eye because they blend in among their peers as the gender they most relate to.

Proponents of state legislation commonly called “Bathroom bills,” which seek to prevent transgenders from using the bathroom of their choice, frequently cite pedophilia as the sole purpose for their belief that students should be forced to use the bathroom according to their gender assigned at birth.

However, assumptions that sex offenders would mimic transgenders by wearing wigs and dresses to gain access into school bathrooms to prey upon children is preposterous and without merit. Preventing transgender people from using the restroom of their gender identity won’t stop sex offenders or child molesters from slipping into the restrooms. So this is nothing more than a conservative scare tactic to gather more support, while promoting violence and hate.

The reality is that change comes slow, and it’s often uncomfortable. Given the sensitive and private nature for which restrooms are intended, transgenders enter the bathroom of their choice and exit as soon as possible, like most people. They also prefer to shower at home, instead of locker rooms, because they generally avoid public displays of nudity, for it disturbs the illusion of being the gender they are transitioning to.

Unfortunately, Trump has turned a restroom system that was working just fine into hysteria. Furthermore, the removal of trans-students’ protections breaks a campaign promise that President Trump made to the LGBTQ community during his 2016 presidential campaign: that he would be better for LGBTQ’s than any other presidential candidate.

Mr. President, perhaps you should stick to making guidelines and rules for the Miss Teen USA ladies dressing room. By your own admission, you delighted in walking into women’s dressing rooms, unannounced. So who is the real threat here?