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Trump brings trans bathroom rights to the forefront

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Editor
Mon, Mar 6th 2017 09:30 pm
Photo taken from Whats Trending on Twitter

President Donald Trump has recently overturned protections put in place by former President Barack Obama which allowed trans people to use bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity.
Photo taken from Whats Trending on Twitter President Donald Trump has recently overturned protections put in place by former President Barack Obama which allowed trans people to use bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity.

So here is my question: why in the name of God's green earth is everyone so obsessed with bathrooms?  By everyone, I mean cisgender people. It does not bode well for the transgender community that we can't get past an issue as simple as where certain people can and can't relieve themselves. Despite my incredulous disbelief, I'm nothing if not diligent when the occasion calls for it, so, let's get to it.

The issue begins as many American issues begin nowadays - with President Donald Trump. He recently took away protections put in place for transgender students so they can use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities. This decision came when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommended the rescinding of these protections before court cases went forward, upholding those same protections. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos opposed the idea, but was ultimately pressured by the attorney general and Trump himself to agree to the action. Wow, bravo Mr. President. Bullying women into restricting rights, you're truly an American icon, am I right? 

According to the The New York Times article by Jeremy Peckers, Jo Becker and Julie Davis, "Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students," some schools will be allowed to let transgender students use the bathroom they are most comfortable using. Well isn't that marvelous? 

Except it's kind of like telling your child they don't have a bedtime anymore, but they can still go to bed at a decent hour if they want. It's the perfect way to say, "let's restrict transgender rights without having it put down on record." I'd call it cowardly, but that would be an insult to cowards everywhere. 

My favorite part of all of this is that Trump said during his campaign that he supported trans rights, according to The New York Times article, "He said last April, for instance, that he supported the right of transgender people to, 'use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.'" 

Well, it's good to know that even if Trump did flat-out lie about his support of transgender rights that he is at least keeping the game of politics consistent. After all, politicians make their career by making empty promises. That doesn't solve the fact that once again the government has pushed transgender people so far to the margins that we can't even use the bathroom. 

So not only is the federal government against trans rights, but so are local governments, all the way down to school boards. Nothing new for trans people, but why are people so obsessed with the bathrooms? Oh, that's right, they're afraid pervy men are going to put on the guise of a trans woman (whatever that is) and sneak into the girl's bathroom to attack women and young girls; this is one of those lovely myths about trans people everyone loves to pull out. How interesting that conservatives want to protect women in the bathroom, but when women actually report sexual violence, their attackers often get off easy. 

Perhaps this myth about cis men masquerading as trans women is less about protecting women and more about oppressing trans people. This sort of hands off approach by the president is showing its effects already in Southern Virginia. In a video on the National Geographic website, a young transgender man by the name of Gavin Grimm is taking the same issue to the Supreme Court. 

The issue was explored in an interview with Katie Couric. Gavin simply wants to use the men's bathroom, but the school board in his town forbade him from doing so, saying instead he could use any of the three unisex bathrooms in the school. However, Grimm is not satisfied with this and is taking the issue to the Supreme Court, the video claims. Or, at least it was. 

According to The New York Times article by Adam Liptak,"Supreme Court Won't Hear Major Case on Transgender Rights," the Surpeme Court has said that they will no longer be hearing the case this month that they agreed to in October. The article states that they did so with a one-sentence order. So that's all it takes. One sentence from the Supreme Court and that's it. Transgender people have to buck up and carry on and the consolation prize is one pathetic sentence.

Just take a moment to appreciate the disparagement of power and voice between the two sides here. On one side we have the transgender community which has been fighting tooth and nail to, of all things, go to the bathroom. On the other side we have two branches of government, one branch which rescinds the rights previously gurunteed to transgender people and the other branch which brushes the transgender communities voice of opposition aside with a single sentence. 

In a perfect case, with no federal input, everyone is free to do whatever they want and restrict rights for whoever they want, except it's still the same groups of people it has always been. So the federal government decides to go laissez-faire on the issue while the local government goes hands-on in the worst way.

The biggest issue being ignored in this new legislation is the issue of privacy. I'm not talking about the privacy of cisgender people, I'm talking about the privacy of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. 

It doesn't matter what bathroom I want to use. It's my own business and not even a little bit of yours. If I want to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender I was assigned at birth, fine; the culture about bathrooms today sometimes makes it easier to just play along. Maybe some days I want to feel comfortable and aligned with my gender identity and use the bathroom that corresponds to that. Either way, it's nobody's business but my own. I'm going in there to do one of two things and I think I can say confidently that no one, cisgender or transgender, wants big brother looming over them while they're trying to do their business.

The last thing I want to say is this: you might put this article down and not think about the issue again until you hear it on the news or maybe not at all but remember, according to the splcenter.org article by Bill Morlin, "Four Transgender Murders in a Week 'Alarming Trend'", well ... I think the title really says it all. So before you put this article down and try not to think about this anymore, remember that if you think bathroom issues and murder issues for trans people don't stem from the same root, you are very wrong.


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Taken by Mathieu Starke, staff photographer

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