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Stop sexualizing transgender children

Tyanna Slobe

Correction: An error in editing resulted in Coy Mathis being referred to as a “transgendered” individual rather than a “transgender” individual. The Collegian regrets its error.

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Public restrooms are the opposite of sexy. The words “public restroom” conjure images of unclean stalls and determined hand-washing. Sure, individual stalls offer some privacy that could technically be turned into sexy-zones by consenting adults, but in general there is nothing innately sexual about a public restroom.

Coy Mathis of Fountain, Colo. is a six-year-old girl who has been denied access to the girls’ bathroom at her school because she is transgender. Until this past winter break, Coy was allowed to use girls’ bathroom at Eagleside Elementary School. In December, however, her parents received a letter from the school stating that Coy would no longer be able to use the girls’ bathroom because she was “born a male” and “the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls’ bathroom would have.”

The school district’s lawyer, W. Kelly Dude, has been quoted by the media claiming, “I’m certain you can appreciate that as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls’ restroom.”

I have my own opinions about the transgender community, and while I have written many an article about the amazing trans people I know, those views are absolutely not what this article about.

Let me be explicit: this article is about the sexualization of children.

Sexualization means attributing sex or sexuality to someone. People’s assuming that Coy Mathis’ bathroom usage is going to have dangerous repercussions because of her body is an example of sexualization.

To claim that a child does not have the right to use a bathroom that appropriately matches their gender identity because of a supposed threat posed by their presumed genitalia is to effectively sexualize that child. It is to suggest that there is something sexual about this child’s body that is threatening. In fact, this claim goes beyond sexualizing a child and suggests that the child is a potential sexual predator because they are transgender — which is, of course, completely false.

Six-year-olds do not deserve to be sexualized. They deserve to be able to go to the bathroom without hassle. Making a child out to be a dangerous sexual being and focusing on a child’s body says a lot more about the adults who are doing so than it says about the child herself.

Walking into a men’s bathroom or a women’s bathroom is a public display of gender identity. I dress like a girl, act like a girl and am a girl. When I am in public I use the women’s bathroom. I, like Coy, would not feel comfortable walking into the men’s bathroom while dressing, acting and being a girl.

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Both women and men’s public restrooms have private stalls. Even if a child’s genitals were relevant to their bathroom use — which is not the case — there would not be an issue. I have never seen a bathroom with a guard at the door who makes everyone pull down their pants as proof before entering. That would be utterly inappropriate, especially in an elementary school. However, any institution that makes a claim that bathroom usage is dependent on genitalia is doing exactly this; suggesting that there is some sort of need for policing people’s bodies.

The nature of a child’s genitals is not up for public scrutiny. Ever.

According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, 89 percent of transgender youth are bullied every year at school based on their gender identity. LGBT youth are four times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide.

These staggering statistics are largely due to institutions like the Fountain-Fort Carson school district and adults like Mr. Dude who sexualize children by seeing them only as bodies and not as people.

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act ensures protection for transgender youth by prohibiting discrimination. While there is no current statewide law about what this means for bathroom usage, some districts like Boulder Valley have explicitly stated that children should use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

A person’s rights do not depend on their body. Coy Mathis dresses like a girl, acts like a girl and is a girl. Making her perform according to boy gender by forcing her to use the boys’ bathroom because the treatment of her body is a very clear example of sexualization of a child from the Fountain-Fort Carson school district.

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  • M

    Mike BertrandAug 7, 2017 at 5:40 am

    bathrooms are not public forums of gender identification. They are created specifically to serve the needs of certain genatallia otherwise you could not identify whether a bathroom was male or female by looking at the equipment inside. They are created to serve persons possessing specific genatallia. How you feel is irrelevantin fact feelings are always irrelevantwhen it comes to facts. As far as a person’s gender being up for scrutiny as you say, it is absolutely always a public issue which is why there is so much controversy now. The rules of society aren’t written and dictated by you but by society as a whole and current society does not accept your premise. That’s how society works, it’s differentfrom law. Societal mores are defined by what is accepted and not accepted by the members as a whole and it has never been universal. Cheating on your girlfriendor boyfriendis looked down upon because society says it is, there are no laws that say it’s wrong but there doesn’t have to be for it to be socially unacceptable. Same goes for trying to force people to accept that you are a girl when you are not. Your feelings don’t matter only what is socially acceptable. In this day and age peopledont accept the make believe and you can’t force anyone to pretend you are somethingyou are not. In fact it is impossiblefor a man to feel like a woman or a woman to feel like a man neither having the experienceof ever being the other. All one can do is mimic gender stereotypes and it’s ironic because in order for a trans person to feel like the opposite sex they must take on behaviors that are gender specificat the same time being against generization of any behavior as intrinsicly male or female. It’s a fallacy and there is no logical way to reconcile the conflict.

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  • A

    Alisha Ramsey BlackburnJan 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Times are changing. Here in CO, insurance plans are covering hormone blockers and transition related hormones. Doctors here have also been able to work with the manufacturers to provide the blockers at a more reasonable cost for those families that don’t have coverage. And kids are not having to wait until 16-18 to access cross-gender hormones any longer. It is not being practiced that way as kids need to go through puberty alongside their peers..waiting til 16-18 is far too long. Yes, Coy should be using the bathroom that corresponds with the gender she identifies as and is living as, regardless of what medical decisions may or may not be made in the future.

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