The Bathroom Policy
Last year, former President Barack Obama stated that under Title IX law, students attending public schools were able to use both the bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender identity, essentially giving them the protection needed to do so. As of Wednesday, February 22nd, the Trump Administration has decided to rescind these protections for transgender students. President Trump stated in his campaign that he would protect and uphold LGBT rights during his Presidency. However, based off of his actions within his first month in office, this claim is questionable.
The dissensus over whether or not transgender individuals should be allowed to use their bathrooms of choice has caused a heated debate over the past few years and even more so in the past month. However, this time around the law seems to be targeting transgender youths. As more and more children and young adults are coming out as transgender, it seems that progress is backtracking. If the American Dream is one of equality and opportunity for all, then how can it be considered American to revoke the rights of a group of people that have been validated under the former president of the United States? If America is to reach a place of comfort and equality, then we need to let transgender individuals express themselves without fear of being judged or ridiculed.
By not allowing children the opportunity to express themselves, we are stripping them of their identity and individuality. As a member of the LGBT community, I can speak from experience when I say that not having the proper support system or education, led to confusion about my own identity and where I fit in. Consistently questioning who I was took a toll on my schoolwork and led me to become isolated from my classmates. It wasn’t until I found a group of other like-minded students that I began to regain my comfort and become interested in school again. It is unjust to expect students to perform well without giving them the proper education and spaces they need to express themselves.
If we want children to succeed, we need to give them the proper means to. The only way of doing this is giving them the materials they need to find themselves first. If we take away their basic right to use the bathroom they feel comfortable in, how will they grow as individuals and learners? We are teaching them to respect others but are not following through on that action ourselves. By introducing a law that removes a (previously established) transgendered person’s right to use the bathroom they align with, the Trump administration alienates them. The transgender minority that was once protected has now lost a key part of their defense.
The Trump administration's reasoning for revoking the law was that former President Obama’s documents did not consist of enough “legal analysis” they thought necessary. They also believed that there was not enough evidence on the topic for it to become law without consultation by multiple parties first. Additionally, the Trump administration feels that in order for this law to be considered fair, there should’ve been a formal way for the public to respond and give their opinions.
Many of us might be aware of President Trump’s belief that the states should be able to decide on whether they support this issue or not. However, it is my belief that an individual’s basic human rights should not have to be voted upon; they should be upheld as any other should. By voting on whether someone should have this basic freedom, we are traveling backward and undoing some of the vital progress that we have worked so hard to make. The very notion that the basic right to use the bathroom one identifies with could be taken away sets decades of LGBTQ reform and progress aside, and as a nation that values equality, democracy, and fairness, we cannot afford to move anywhere but forward.
While the passing of this law can go back and forth, the damage that it causes on transgender youth and adults can be irreversible. While it may only be four to eight years away until our next President, for trans youth this appears to be far longer. High school is typically a four-year experience, which is equal to the amount of one term for any President. Regardless of whether this law is changed for the future, it leaves current trans youth struggling for basic decency and rights during their crucial years of growth and self-realization.
It’s important to consider the gender identities of those who are putting this law into consideration. For Trump, a cisgender male, this law has little to no effect. However, for the thousands of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, this affects their daily life. As someone who lives in a country who prides themselves on being “The land of the free,” it seems wrong to deny people the simple freedom of using their bathroom of choice.
Hersher, Rebecca, and Carrie Johnson. "Trump Administration Rescinds Obama Rule On Transgender Students' Bathroom Use." NPR. NPR, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.