Trans boys are boys; trans girls are girlsBottom Highlights, Trans Progressive Thursday, March 21st, 2013
Commentary: Trans Progressive
At what age do transgender girls become perceived predators? Do we consider a transgender girl in kindergarten – a girl born with male genitalia – to be a predator toward other girls in her elementary school class should they all use the girls bathroom? Would the line be a third grade/8-year-old trans girl? A sixth grade/11-year-old trans girl? A tenth grade/15-year-old, trans young woman?
And, for those male-to-female middle and high school aged trans youth, do we consider them to be perceived predators of their cisgender female classmates in locker rooms?
These aren’t hypothetical questions for female trans youth in California and across the United States – this is a very current education issue across the nation.
Colorado first-grader Coy Mathis was banned this year from using the girls bathroom in the elementary school she previously attended – she’s now being homeschooled. What do the school administrators think Coy could or would be doing in a girl’s bathroom that would be inappropriate behavior toward her cisgender classmates?
Last November in Maine, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) reported that a trial court judge dismissed the case of a transgender girl they’re representing who experienced discrimination and harassment at her Orono school – much of it to do with which bathroom she used. Beginning when both were in the same fifth grade class, the girl was bullied by a cisgender male classmate at the urging of his grandfather. GLAD is appealing the trial court decision.
And last February in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Education Department announced a statewide policy document for how transgender students are to be accommodated in the commonwealth’s public schools. Per the new policy, students “may access the restroom, locker room and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.” Trans students also are specifically allowed to play on sports teams that correspond to the gender with which they identify – in other words, trans girls can play on girls sports teams with cisgender girls and trans boys can play on boys sports teams with cisgender boys.
Most are aware that first and fifth grade trans girls aren’t bathroom predators. These trans youth aren’t using the school’s girls restrooms to prey on their cisgender female classmates, but are using the bathrooms just like their cisgender classmates: to go to use the toilets. As for trans high schoolers …
Well, here in California, one of the two bills that the Transgender Law Center (TLC) is supporting is AB1266, a bill that will ensure that transgender students have a fair opportunity to participate in programs and facilities that match their gender. As the organization’s executive director, Masen Davis, stated about the bill, “Transgender boys are boys, and transgender girls are girls, and this bill ensures they are treated as such.”
Essentially, AB1266 would codify into California law something akin to the regulatory policy that the Massachusetts Education Department recently generated.
San Francisco’s school district accomplishes a yearly survey, and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the last survey indicated that transgender students represent about 1.5 percent of those enrolled.
The program manager in school health programs for the district told the Chronicle that the district currently has about one-hundred-fifty middle school students and three-hundred high school students who identify as transgender. San Francisco’s district policy matches the policy that AB1266 would mandate for the state.
For a transgender student in the San Francisco school district to use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, students must identify as a certain gender “exclusively and consistently” – in other words, the gender fluidity argument that religious and social conservatives put forward, the one where boys pretend to be girls for a couple of days to peep at naked girls in school locker rooms and then go back to being male – is addressed by the district’s policy. Notably, the district’s health program manager stated there have been no problems with students claiming to be transgender when they are not, nor have there been complaints from parents.
I’m back to the quote from Masen Davis about transgender boys being boys and transgender girls being girls. These trans youth aren’t predators. These trans youth are who they know themselves to be and how they present themselves to the world. When AB1266 becomes law, our state will again be on the progressive side of transgender civil rights, and in my mind that’s a good thing.
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