On May 13, President Obama, through the power of his Department of Justice and Department of Education, declared that every public school facility should no longer have sex-distinct bathrooms, changing rooms, or showers. No facility should be restricted to either male or female. Any school that does so, his administration says, is discriminatory and violating Title IX of U.S. law.
Some have unsuccessfully tried to spin the DOJ and DOE directive as totally harm-free, but some really troubling parts of political gender theory present themselves immediately. This is the bottom-line, bare-bones consequence of the president’s dramatic and far-reaching action. Like a NASCAR race car, the thin and fragile chassis over the powerful guts of this directive is “that transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment.” What virtuous person doesn’t want every student, regardless of his or her story, to have a supportive and nondiscriminatory school atmosphere in which to learn?
But the overwhelmingly explosive engine and forceful powertrain under this thin body is explained in the conditions of compliance section of the administration’s letter to all public schools, facilities, and educational leadership (p. 2): “As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities…”
Two major points here. While we are told to be comforted that the president’s mandate doesn’t have the force of law, it clearly has the force of the checkbook. You certainly have the right to not go along, but your federal funding will go away. It also is not confined to transgender students, but clearly refers to “any person.”
You might think this is an extremely fearful, even irrational way to interpret President Obama’s mandate. It is not by any stretch, because of how one’s gender identity is determined according to administration’s explanation and general gender theory. Following are five primary reasons why the president’s policy is unsound and will create more problems than it solves. And these problems will be profound.
1. ‘Transgender’ Literally Means Anything to Anyone
Gender identity is defined in the administration’s directive (p. 1) as such: “Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.”
Nearly all LGBT advocacy organizations define “gender identity” similarly. The concern is captured in two words: “internal sense.” Gender identity is what the person says it is. Given this, the Obama administration explains clearly on page 3 of its directive, “a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity [i.e. their internal sense of themselves] even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex.” The student’s subjective claim is more authoritative than any official document or biological reality, which brings us to the second point.
2. There Is No Legal, Physical, or Psychological Criteria for Being Transgender
Most people assume that being “transgender” is a diagnosable or legal category that one meets by making certain observable changes or being declared such by a medical or psychological professional. This is not the case.
One is to be accepted as transgender simply by declaring it so. Nothing in current gender theory, or in this DOE/DOJ directive, can disprove a student’s claim to be transgender and then not transgender multiple times back and forth before the school day’s lunch break. The administration merely puts its faith in the naïve assumption that all will simply be honest about their real “authentic sense of gender” when entering school restrooms and locker room showers. Any student (or shopper at Target, for instance) who is questioned need only reply in one of two ways:
1) “You’re telling me I’m not a girl?”
2) “You are violating my dignity and personal essence by questioning my own ‘internal sense of gender.’”
You see, the transgender person need not show any external confirmation of his claim. He need not be diagnosed or meet any criteria of change. If a transgender person wishes to make no outward physical change at all, that is his or her decision that everyone must honor. After all, a foundational tenet of gender theory is that the “boys-look-like-this-and-girls-look-like-that” expectation is merely an illusory social construct and unhealthy expectation that must be overthrown. (A glaring and damning contradiction in gender theory is that being male or female are merely illusory constructs. But if you are a trans man or woman, that is actually and truly who you are and you are heroically worthy of great praise in announcing this to the world.)
The policy guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education accompanying the Obama administration’s directive state this subjectivity clearly: “Schools generally rely on students’…expression of their gender identity” (see question 2, page 1).
This profound subjectivity and policy protection of it practically and legally opens all public school restrooms, showers, and locker rooms to anyone, as it would be a violation of one’s individual identity and autonomy to question the legitimacy of one’s claim of being transgender.
3. This Is About Transgender Politics, not Compassion
Most trans advocates claim that transgender students of any age should not have to face an unsafe situation when having to conduct the basic human functions of waste elimination and changing for sports activities. Who honestly disagrees with that for any student?
There is a practical answer to this that most school administrators already utilize to respect the transgender student’s safety and modesty: single-use facilities. But when school officials provide separate facilities for their trans-identified students, this is seen as discriminatory by radical trans advocates and the Obama administration. Separate is not allowed.
This indicates this is not merely about the practicality of the trans-identified student being able to do his or her business in a safe environment. It is about something much more.
4. The Safety and Modesty of the Majority Takes a Back Seat to a Minuscule Minority
The Obama administration distinctly pits the considerations of trans-identified students against the safety and comfort all other students. This is dramatic, as one of the world’s leading pro-gay think tanks puts the total population of transgender adults no higher than 0.3 percent. That is not a typo. Point three percent. Of course, the percentage of young people is much lower, and those who feel bad about using single-use facilities lower still.
Certainly we cannot say the rights of the majority should squash the rights of a minority, regardless of how miniscule that minority is, but this is honestly madness. It is simply unfair and unwise to tell 99.9 percent of girls that their own right to safety and dignity in the bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms of their schools is non-existent. In fact, the Charlotte Observer’s editorial board belittlingly lectured every one of these girls that while “the thought of male genitalia in girls’ locker rooms – and vice versa – might be distressing to some” these hysterical girls should just get over it. The editors equate this natural female modesty with those who once showed antipathy toward blacks using white restrooms. This is vile and inexcusable.
As an important aside regarding safety, the confident assurance we hear from trans advocates that it is unlikely any transgender individual will abuse someone as he or she uses the facilities of the preferred sex misses the point. The concern is that any male with ill intent (or not) can enter a woman’s restroom, shower, or changing room and present his naked self under the false auspices of changing his clothes, dropping his pants to tuck in his shirt, shower after a workout, etc. Yes, extreme creepers will be arrested just as they would be in same-sex facilities, but there are many things boys and men will be able to do in the girls’ facilities that cannot be questioned but will be deeply disturbing to the average woman.
5. Leading Clinicians Do Not Recognize Children as Transgender
These policies are being driven by the unfounded assumption that children who identify with the sex opposite their biology are transgender. Those who think it unwise to allow young children to identify as the opposite sex and accordingly change their clothes, names, bedroom décor, and identity at school are shamed as unenlightened clods who are responsible for these children committing suicide one day. I have personally experienced such accusations more times than I can count. But are such people really so unenlightened?
First, many of the world’s leading clinicians working with such children do not refer to them as “transgender” but as gender dysphoric. This is because the best research reveals that 75 to 98 percent of children who at some point identify as the opposite sex return to their biological sex identity at or sometime before the onset of puberty. It is not something they are, but something the overwhelming majority deal with for a period of time in childhood. Leading clinicians working in the Netherlands report “the results unequivocally showed that gender dysphoria remitted after puberty in the vast majority of children.” Thus, referring to gender dysphoric children as “transgender” is not advised by the best research.
This is primarily why the Amsterdam Gender Identity Clinic, one of the largest clinics in Europe treating gender dysphoric children, does not recommend that parents, teachers, or clinicians facilitate pre-adolescent sex transitioning:
Because most gender dysphoric children will not remain gender dysphoric through adolescence, we recommend that young children not yet make a complete social transition (different clothing, a different given name, referring to a boy as ‘her’ instead of ‘him’) before the very early stages of puberty. In making this recommendation, we aim to prevent youths with non-persisting gender dysphoria from having to make a complex change back to the role of the natal gender.
This is critical. These specialists explain that children who are facilitated by parents, teachers, and other adults in an identity transition from their biological to their perceived sex report substantial difficulty in deciding, taking actions, and explaining to others that they now desire to live according to their natal sex. They find it hard to reverse the momentum that was created for them by well-intentioned, but enabling adults. These clinicians explain:
In a qualitative follow-up study, several youths indicated how difficult it was for them to realize that they no longer wanted to live in the role of the other gender and make this clear to the people around them. …One may wonder how difficult it would be for children already living for years in an environment where no one (except for the family) is aware of the child’s natal sex to make the change back. …Parents, too, who go along with this, often do not realize that they contribute to their child’s lack of awareness of these consequences.
Dr. Richard Green, one of the oldest researchers in this field and a committed LGBT advocate within the professional associations, expressed similar concerns to The Atlantic some years ago:
Are you helping or hurting a kid by allowing them to live as the other gender? If everyone is caught up in facilitating the thing, then there may be a hell of a lot of pressure to remain that way, regardless of how strongly the kid still feels gender dysphoric. Who knows? That’s a study that hasn’t found its investigator yet.
Even though acceptance and facilitation by parents and teachers of such changes is assumed to be the enlightened and compassionate thing to do for these children, the opposite seems to be true.
Yes, every child dealing with gender dysphoria must be cared for, protected, and treated with dignity. Few if any, are arguing that point. But to use that rationale as a blunt tool to bring every educator and parent in the nation in submission with a wholly subjective and unproven gender ideology is beyond any reason. President Obama is opening a massive Pandora’s Box and the actual size of that box will be evident to all in very short order.