Dear President Trump,
Your administration has rolled back the guidance on the treatment of transgender kids in schools. You believe that guidance is legally unclear, that decisions on the dignity of these kids should rest in the determinations of the individual states, that the original directive had been done “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
I have one question.
Why the hell does that matter?
When you championed yourself as an LGBTQ hero, you declared that the devastation in an Orlando Nightclub was one that you personally could have prevented. In your mind, the lives of those young people were yours to save. In holding to your current principles, it is odd you did not declare that the circumstances around that tragedy to have been subject to the determination of the local government.
Let’s be clear, these directives are not really about bathrooms. They are about visibility or disappearance. They are about life or death. Actress Laverne Cox made the point beautifully in comparing the oppression of transgender kids with Jim Crow bathroom oppression of African American people in the south.
The intent was not about privacy—bathrooms are all private. We are each contained in our own, hidden from view, stalls.
The intent is to erase a group from public view.
“What people should know about these bathroom bills that criminalize trans people... is that these bills are not about bathrooms.They’re about whether trans people have the right to exist in public space. If we can’t access public bathrooms, we can’t go to school, we can’t work, we can’t go to healthcare facilities ― this is about public accommodations and public accommodations are always key to civil rights. I can’t help but think about that moment from ‘Hidden Figures’ when Taraji P. Henson’s character has to walk 45 minutes to the bathroom ― Gavin (the transgender teen with a case pending before the Supreme Court) had to go to a special ‘gender neutral’ bathroom, a nurses bathroom that was way out of the way.” Cox observed.
The message is clear. “We want you erased. We want to pretend you do not exist.”
That is the issue. Mr. President, the kids this is targeting hear that message, and what is worse, they act on it.
Studies show that between 45 and 51 percent of transgender students attempt suicide. That is a far greater rate than any other category of student. 78 percent of transgender students report abuse. That statistic goes down significantly in schools with transgender-supportive programs. Most transgender students do not pursue continued education after experiencing the harassment of high school.
In short, Mr. President, as the result of this action by your administration, like in Orlando, young people… children… will die.
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