OPINION: Transgender Teens Deserve Bathroom Rights


The Trump administration sent out guidelines to schools on Wednesday, Feb. 22 stating that schools should have the decision on whether transgender students can use the bathroom concurrent with their gender identity. Essentially, this letter opens the door for school districts to remove and obstruct the rights of many students. Although the guidelines do not require schools to remove these rights, it revokes previous guidelines put in place by the Obama administration requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

Being forced to use the bathroom opposite of their gender identity has the propensity to ostracize transgender students from the rest of their peers, which can contribute to increased feelings of depression and anxiety.Transgender people of all ages face much higher levels of depression and anxiety, with an astonishing 41 percent suicide attempt rate, according to a study by the Williams Institute, compared to a rate of .6 percent among all adults in the US.

One of the main arguments people use to force transgender students to use the facility corresponding to their biological sex is that it would allow sexual predators to enter the bathroom of the opposite gender and commit crimes. Think about it. If someone were to go to the lengths to pretend to be transgender to go into the opposite gender’s bathrooms, they would probably just dress up as that gender anyway, without pretending to be transgender at all. Furthermore, if men and women, in all respects except a check mark on their birth certificate, are forced to use the bathroom of the opposite gender, they would be much more likely to be sexually harassed or assaulted.

Not only do these guidelines implicate fewer protections for all transgender individuals but it is one of the few campaign promises President Trump has reneged on. He has worked to follow through on repealing the Affordable Care Act, he has issued the travel ban, he has rolled back environmental protections, and he had overall worked to fulfill most of his promises. However, he also promised to protect and enforce the rights of LGBT citizens, and this shows the opposite.

Since Jeff Sessions was appointed Attorney General, the Justice Department has stopped fighting court cases to protect transgender students, they have considered rolling back federal protections for public employees, and now they pave the way for states to pass laws similar to North Carolina’s HB2, which forces people to use the bathroom corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate while in public buildings.

This measure, along with similar ones around the country, has faced significant opposition from many different groups and the country as transgender students and their parents protest against local policies barring students from the bathrooms of their gender identity. The rights of all people should be protected, including those of transgender students, and to work against that causes massive emotional damage and suffering for people already struggling with their own identity.

Protesters in front of the White House protesting the new guidelines.

Video by Reuters