With one of the latest federal actions revoking federal guidelines that support transgender students to use public school bathrooms that match their gender identity. While the stance from the administration is to leave transgender rights up to the states and local schools, this move also reverses work done by the Obama administration last year and means that protections and support would vary widely from area to area.
The LA Times has a piece about what this new policy would mean for California trans students, saying in particular that while California has some of the strongest laws protecting trans students, losing federal protection could hurt trans students that live in more conservative areas.
- Transgender People Need Safe Restrooms – Masen Davis, Huffington Post
About a week ago and before the joint letter came out from the Justice and Education departments, Laverne Cox was on CBS This Morning and in part, talked about Gavin Grimm and the impact that bathroom bills have on trans people of all ages. She said that:
And what people should know about these bathroom bills that criminalize trans people — criminalize me going to the women’s room, is that these bills are not about bathrooms. They’re about whether trans people have the right to exist in public space. If we can’t access public bathrooms, we can’t go to school, we can’t work, we can’t go to health care facilities. This is about public accommodations. And so, public accommodations are always key to civil rights.
These bathroom bills and a lack of federal protections make existing in public as a transgender person difficult and there are so many ramifications that come from this. One includes the fact that this means a significant amount of trans people avoid using a public bathroom, which then leads to health problems. One survey found that around 8% of trans people in the United States get UTIs and kidney infections often because they can’t use public restrooms.
More than ever, it’s important to support transgender students and people, especially if you’re a teacher. This can mean so many different things but there are resources and places that offer help. Some places include:
- How teachers can support transgender students – Allie George, Huffington Post
- Supporting Transgender Students in the Classroom – Sherry Zane, Faculty Focus
- Educators! Support Trans and GNC Students! – GLSEN
- Best Practices for Supporting Transgender Students – Lambda Legal
There are also places to support individual trans people, as trans people in the United States are significantly more likely to live in poverty. Once place to start looking, if you are able to help out financially, is the Twitter hashtag #TransCrowdFund. If you’re cisgender, it’s also important to learn about transgender identities and issues and to challenge your own biases and assumptions.
And it’s incredibly important that we believe trans kids. It’s vital that we believe them when they speak and believe in them. Having to constantly fight for your existence to be seen and heard as who you are is tough and not something anyone should have to go through, especially if you’re a kid.