opinion   |   oped

The US Department of Education should protect transgender rights



The U.S. Department of Education is not acting on cases of bathroom access for transgender students. 

Last year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rolled back steps for protection for transgender students. This rollback is going as far as declaring Title IX only prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and not gender identity. Under the Obama administration, this was the opposite

Now, the Department of Education is refusing to hear cases from transgender students regarding bathroom use. 

Liz Hill, press secretary for the DOE told NPR, "In the case of bathrooms, however, long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX".

This is unacceptable and contributes directly to discrimination against transgender students.

There is no reason why transgender students should not be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Title IX is supposed to protect students from this kind of discrimination.  During the Obama administration, this included gender identity. 

 However, the current DOE  disagrees with this view, and says it will prevent transgender youth from discrimination by sex. This is pointless, because biological sex and gender identity are two  different things. Sex has nothing to do with gender identity outside of socialized and enforced gender norms. 

One argument by most opponents is predators will enter the bathroom of their opposite gender, but this argument holds very little weight. 

Predators already prey on children of both genders, so they could already enter the bathroom of their same gender. If a predator truly wanted to enter the bathroom of their opposite gender, they could, even if there is technically a law in place.

It is true transgender students could use designated gender-neutral bathrooms, but there may be less of these bathrooms available in a school. This makes them harder to access. Students will be losing more class time having to travel to all the way to these specific bathrooms instead of using the more widely available gendered bathrooms. 

Additionally, transgender students should not have to use an entirely separate bathroom if they do not want to.

Education is mostly a state-based policy, so some states such as Illinois and Colorado do have anti-discrimination laws in place for transgender students. This is a start, but it's not enough on its own. 

There is no way to ensure every state will establish these laws. Some states have no anti-discrimination laws for the LGBT community on the basis of employment, housing, public accommodations and more.

The heart of the issue is transgender boys are boys and transgender girls are girls. They should be allowed to use the bathroom of their gender, just like students who are cisgender. 

Otherwise, it is deliberate discrimination, which contributes to the oppression of transgender people everywhere.

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