Flip flop on bathroom rights will sanction state harassment

Cartoon by Mia Dexter.

On Feb. 22, all transgender youth in America bowed their heads to a force larger than themselves: rich politicians.

Most people in the LGBTQ+ community knew Trump was bad news from the second he started his campaign, but boy, we are seeing his true colors in the most recent “Dear Colleague” letter, signed by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education.

The letter basically revokes Obama’s “Dear Colleague” letter released on May 13, 2016, which said that schools were to treat a student’s gender identity as their sex when it came to Title IX, or risk losing federal funding.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states that no student shall be discriminated against based on sex, so the latest letter dismisses the one written last year and says that states would not be stripped of federal funding if they didn’t treat a student’s gender identity as their sex — especially in regard to bathrooms or living facilities. Essentially this letter is returning power to the states to decide how to treat transgender students.

Luckily, Iowa has laws to protect transgender students, but not all states do. These states have no laws against discrimination on gender identity: New York, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Transgender youth who live in these states have so many daily conflicts that cisgender individuals don’t have to worry about.

For example, when applying for jobs, transgender people in these states have to consider what information is safest to disclose on their applications and in their interviews, and school for transgender students just got a lot more complicated with this letter. Even if schools have acclimated and accommodated their trans youth, they could now take away the student’s right to use the bathroom their gender identity matches with, or the locker room it matches up with.

One large “reason” the Departments of Education and Justice signed this letter is because they believe cisgender men or women will pretend to be the opposite gender and molest their children or make them uncomfortable. This is simply untrue. More GOP politicians have been reprimanded for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than trans people.

Why? Because trans people are in the bathroom to use it for it’s intended use: to go to the bathroom just like anyone else. I know, it’s a shocker.

There have been three cases in recent history of Republican congressmen sexually harassing people in bathrooms alone. John Hinson, former Mississippi congressman in 1981; Larry Craig, senator from Idaho in 2007; and Bob Allen, a Florida state representative in the same year all committed sexual crimes in bathrooms. There are zero recorded incidents of harassment by transgender people in bathrooms.

It will be interesting to see how the ACLU responds to the Trump administration’s letter and if they will file a suit against it. Trump’s revokement of Obama’s letter is a cowardly move by someone whose only accurate title is “bully.”

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