Why is it that conservatives, in particular, automatically fear what they don’t understand and immediately assume the worst without a single shred of evidence to support those fears? Please, tell me, because I’m totally fed up with their absolutely unjustified opposition to transgender students and adults using the bathrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with. Their fears and assumptions are basically crap!
First of all, let’s establish that being transgender isn’t just something we made up. We’re born this way. It’s not a choice. It’s a fact of life. And just because you’ve never experienced what’s it’s like doesn’t mean it’s not real. As Johanna Olson, a physician who specializes in healthcare for transgender youth at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and who was quoted in an article on The Atlantic.com, says that “genitals don’t equal gender.” Plus, gender identity is not necessarily an either/or proposition, but rather “a continuum along which any individual may fall, depending on a variety of factors, including anatomy, chromosomes, hormones and feelings.”
According to Transexuality.org, transgender youth face an especially tough challenge both at home and at school. In fact, survey results indicate that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. And it’s not just bullying from fellow students, but also the way they are treated by school officials, from not being allowed to present as the gender they identify with to being forced to use the wrong bathroom for their gender identity and even being excluded from school activities. This causes extreme stress and negatively impacts a transgender student’s ability to learn, to grow as a person and develop the self-confidence to be successful in life.
Again, the Atlantic article states that “the federal Office for Victims of Crime reports that transgender individuals face ‘shockingly high’ levels of sexual abuse and assault. Two in five attempt suicide at least once in the course of their lifetimes.”
And it affects more students than you might imagine. For example, The Atlantic article cites a Los Angeles Unified School District survey which found that 0.5 % of students identified as transgender. But while the percentage seems small, it amounts to 3,000 students. That led to California instituting a landmark law prohibiting discrimination against students based on their gender identity. Unfortunately, a lot of states and local school districts ignore the statistics and the damage that can be done. So, the Federal government needed to take action.
During President Obama’s administration, guidance was given to schools that receive federal funding which classified gender identity as protected under Title IX rules. This meant that students should be allowed to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity regardless of the biological sex listed on their birth certificate. Now the Trump administration is leaving the decision to the states and local school districts. And, just like any other civil rights issue, this is the official code for allowing unjustified discrimination.
Why does this matter so much? Because where you live in these United States should not affect your basic human rights, but for transgender people it makes a huge difference. In Connecticut, where I live now, I enjoy the same basic rights and protections as everyone else. And, since I am a transwoman, that includes the right to use the Ladies’ Restroom wherever I go. Guess what happens? Nothing out of the ordinary. I go to answer the call of nature and that’s it! Nobody has ever seemed to notice or care, because there was no reason for it.
Pre-operative transgender individuals have no interest in exposing their genitals to anyone else. In fact, it’s the last thing they want to be reminded of because it’s just damned depressing. Also, the fears of a non-transgender person being assaulted by a transgender individual in a restroom (or anywhere else) are completely baseless. According to the Advocate in an article on Mic.com., “There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.“
Don’t believe it? Consider this excerpt from the article Sexual Assault Misconceptions by the Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center at the University Michigan:
If we allow transgender and gender non-conforming people to use whichever bathroom they feel safest in, sexual assault in bathrooms will increase.
This misconception is rooted in the false belief that people who are transgender or gender non-conforming are sexual predators. There is absolutely no evidence of this. There are no statistics that support the idea that LGBT individuals are more likely to commit sexual assault or be sex offenders than heterosexuals or cis-gendered individuals.. In fact, sex offenders are disproportionately likely to be heterosexual cis-gendered men.
And that’s not all! According to an ABC News story, “a coalition of over 200 national, state and local organizations across the U.S. that work with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors are objecting to the justifications given by lawmakers to forbid transgender people from using the bathroom of their choosing.”
Also, according to the coalition in this story, “Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state.”
Now if you really want some solid statistics involving assaults, try chewing on these for a while:
- According to Justice department statistics, in 8 out of 10 cases the victim already knows the person who sexually assaulted them.
- According to a study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, 64 percent of transgender people will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.
So, if you’re still hung up on forcing transgender students or adults to use a bathroom that’s not consistent with their gender identity, you’re the problem not them. Get over your inexcusable ignorance and prejudices, because you’re on the wrong side of the facts and the future.
On the other hand, if you believe in in equality for everyone, here’s how you can help. Call or write your state legislators, your Congressional representative and your U.S. Senators to express your support for eliminating discrimination based on gender identity for both students and adults. You can also contact a number of groups that support this initiative including:
Freedom for All Americans , the Human Rights Campaign and GLSEN.
Remember, there is no equality until it applies to everyone!
Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the ignorance and let equality grow!
The Divine Miss Bri
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