California passed a bill over the summer that requires public schools to let transgender students use the restroom that matches their gender identity, as opposed to their assigned birth sex. This law also requires that transgender students are able to play on sports teams based on their gender identity.
The statute has sparked huge debate, as expected. Conservatives are in strong opposition, questioning to what extent we are going to make efforts to ensure the safety of students dealing with gender identity and transitioning.
One issue that many people have with the law is that it forces confusion and difficult situations onto young K-12 students. What I don’t understand is why some people want to shelter their children from realities that they will have to face later on anyway.
Transgender students should not have to continue to struggle with these issues at school because some people would prefer not to sit down and have a conversation with their child. Children will not be confused if they grow up in an environment where it is normal for people to be free to use the restroom with which they feel comfortable.
Noninclusive policies force ignorance onto young people. If you think learning what transgender means is too difficult for children, just imagine how difficult it is for transgender students to not feel comfortable in the bathroom that they are forced to use or not even use the restroom for fear of their safety.
Another argument is that some students may abuse the “privilege,” using it to commit sexual assault. This argument assumes that the school will be allowing cisgender (gender identity matches with assigned birth sex) students to claim to be transgender whenever they feel like it.
The schools will be talking with transgender students who wish to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Even so, I would hope that schools could deal with a student who attempts a sexual assault instead of blaming their actions on a law that gives transgender students a comfortable and safe place to use the restroom. It makes no sense to overlook the massive amount of violence faced by transgender people. If anything, providing a safe place for everyone to use the restroom will lessen the risk of sexual violence.
I have trouble with the use of the word “privilege” in talking about this law. There is a problem when we consider it a privilege to be able to use the restroom comfortably and safely, a part of most of our days that we take for granted. I have had the privilege for the last 19 years to use the restroom that I want, to be able to play on sports teams with other girls throughout school, and to not be attacked because of the way I identify with regards to gender.
Unfortunately, like most people, I did not recognize this for some time. So I apologize if it makes you feel uncomfortable that a transgender individual might be peeing in the same room as you, but you might just have to get over it.
If you still think there is something wrong with California’s recent measure taken to improve the quality of life for transgender students, I have a solution for you. Demand that every school has a gender inclusive restroom. Instead of attacking young people and making their lives exponentially harder, try to provide them with something that you certainly shouldn’t have a problem with.
Although a couple other states do have statewide policies enacted for the same thing, no state except California has gone as far as passing legislation requiring all public schools to let students use the restroom that matches their gender identity. This is a major step for the safety and recognition of transgender people. I hope to see many other states follow this standard that California has set for their schools.
Michaela is a second year ethnic studies student who is really funny and good at puns. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.