Civil rights committees and social justice advocates have been given yet another reason to protest this past week, following a political directive by President Donald Trump regarding U.S. anti-discrimination laws. On Feb. 22, Trump decided to rescind the protections on transgender students in all public schools: a motion previously instituted during the Obama administration. The Title IX mandate issued under former President Barack Obama permitted transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom and locker rooms that they felt most comfortable using. It was decided that barring students from entering certain gendered restrooms was a clear infringement on anti-discrimination in schools.
In a statement released by the Trump administration, however, it was evident that our elected officials do not feel the Title IX directive for trans students’ protections was well established. For multiple reasons, President Trump decided to revoke these protections for trans students in public schools. The major argument for the law’s revocation was legal reasons, as the Trump administration stated. Trump himself has publicly stated that he believes bathroom gender admittance is an issue that should be handled at the state level. However, his recent actions do not correspond to the promises he made during his campaign considering trans students’ safety for the future.
If Trump believes this a matter of the State — and therefore should be left to state variation — we must ask ourselves why he has exercised federal power to rescind public restroom access in schools. If he firmly believes that transgender students’ rights are an issue to be disputed within individual states, it is fairly clear that he has abandoned that belief now. The revocation of Obama’s anti-discrimination guideline in schools only proves to us that Trump is not in favor of American students’ protections, regardless of sexual identity. Ironically, it appears he rescinded the code on the basis of general student safety. The revocation of the Title IX mandate not only instills fear within the trans people’s community, but also their straight allies. The main argument here is that we may be shirking young people’s protections in private spaces. Conservative politicians argue that the only way to ensure safety in the restrooms of public schools is to control who is permitted and who is not. But that also means they consider bathrooms to be a place of danger and transgender students to be dangerous.
Are we really meant to believe that a school bathroom or locker room are the only places a student faces danger?
Are we expected to believe that there are no other people who are capable of sexual predation other than transgender individuals?
Are we being trained to think that asking students to relinquish their individuality and personal comfort is acceptable?
In consideration of these new changes, we must keep in mind several significant factors. A student, regardless of gender identity, is susceptible to bullying and harassment at any time, situation and location.
Torment is not confined to a public restroom. Sexual predation knows no limitations or bounds.
Assuming that transgender people are more of a danger than others, or assuming that they have capabilities to harm more so than others, is ignorance at its finest. Any person is capable of evil — and any person is capable of harm. Anyone can be considered a threat to public safety, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
By allowing people of all identities to share a restroom, we are not shirking one person’s comfort for another’s. We are not giving special privilege to transgender people. We are respecting their basic human rights.