In his speech accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s, Bruce Jenner used his experience to discuss the next generation of transgenders: “Trans people deserve something vital: They deserve your respect. If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is, I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there, coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”
I agree with Jenner. No kid should be bullied anywhere, for any reason, especially not in schools. But that doesn’t mean transgender kids should be free to make other kids acquiesce to environments in which they are uncomfortable. In schools now, adults and students alike are lobbying for preferential treatment for transgender kids, but their goals or accomplishments fail to acknowledge that every student deserves equal treatment.
The Bathroom Battlefield
It’s not enough to go to school and be transgender; emboldened by the U.S. Department of Education declaration that Title IX also applies to transgender students, said students are now demanding to use the restroom of the gender with which they wish to label themselves.
For example, in March, the school board in Stafford, Virginia, allowed a fourth-grade boy to use the girls’ restroom. After parents and local lawmakers complained, the school board reversed that decision.
The Atlantic reports, “Just last month, a 16-year-old transgender student filed a lawsuit against a school board in another Virginia district over a similar policy that required the student to use an “alternative” restroom instead.” Two other families of transgender children, one a first-grader in Colorado and another high-schooler in Maine, filed lawsuits—which were upheld—requiring schools to let transgender children to use the bathroom of their choice.
Transgender Issues Are Tricky
The issue of transgenders under 18 is a sticky one, not because the feelings involved don’t exist but because they, like hormones, and other types of feelings, change often. Thank God, none of us are the adults we were when we were teenagers. In a recent, sad story in The New York Times about a transgender youth who underwent gender-reassignment surgery, the author writes: “Complicating matters, studies suggest that most young children with gender dysphoria eventually lose any desire to change sex, and may grow up to be gay, rather than transgender. Once into adolescence, however, their dysphoria is more likely to stick.”
So it’s a very real and even likely possibility that a pre-pubescent child who bullies everyone at school into seeing him as the opposite sex will one day naturally lose that desire. While his desires may go away, the discomfort he inflicted on everyone nearby will still have happened.
Another sticky issue is that many transgender people claim that status based on feelings rather than facts. As a transwoman writes in The Guardian commenting on the difference between race and transgenderism in the context of Rachel Dolezal’s deceptive life as a black person despite being born white: “The fundamental difference between Dolezal’s actions and trans people’s is that her decision to identify as black was an active choice, whereas transgender people’s decision to transition is almost always involuntary […] Doctors don’t announce our race or color when we are born; they announce our gender. […] Thus, Dolezal identified as black, but I am a woman, and other trans people are the gender they feel themselves to be.”
While I tend to think anatomy and DNA trumps feelings, I won’t attempt to make a case against the existence of transgender people or their issues. Yet without acknowledging that all young people are constantly dealing with psychological, physiological, and emotional changes and feelings that fluctuate sometimes daily, schools are charging full-speed ahead, changing their policies to align with these demands. This means school-age children are using their fluctuating feelings to dominate and even extinguish the voices of others through lawsuits and school policies.
The Argument for Transgender Bathrooms in Schools Is Misleading
Transgender student Casey Hoke wrote in the Huffington Post, “As long as private stalls are available, absolutely no one should suffer from ‘harm’ in the presence of a transgender person unless the person creates a threatening or harmful situation for the other people in the facility […] That’s that.”
I really want to believe this. In fact, to an extent I do. On the surface, a transgender wants to use an opposite-sex bathroom, and they are going to use that bathroom to do their deed and move on. Some parents have expressed concern over their children’s safety. While understandable, admittedly those concerns may be mostly unfounded and there are probably more pressing safety issues in school bathrooms—such as using selling or using drugs—than the sex of the person using what restroom. But I still think Hoke’s statements, however genuine, are naive.
Superficially, a transgender advocate (be it a parent, coach, or the student himself) contends transgenders must be allowed in the bathroom of the gender for which they identify because if they use the other bathroom they feel ostracized or even uncomfortable. Indeed, how awkward it must be for a student with a vagina, but who dresses like a male, to relieve herself in the stall of a restroom where other girls, who dress like girls, are doing the same thing! How archaic.
But what of all the girls who identify as girls who must go the bathroom with a girl who identifies as a boy? Is that not equally uncomfortable? Especially when one considers that the number of non-transgender students outweighs transgender students by a significant margin?
If the issue is truly about comfort, how does the comfort of a transgender student trump that of the non-transgender student? If it somehow helps a transgender child to use the bathroom among peers with whom he identifies, does it not equally help a child to use the bathroom among peers who possess the same genitals? This is where the argument begins to fray, if not fall apart altogether.
These Bathroom Policies Force Inequality On Most Students
Policies that allow transgenders to use opposite-sex bathrooms still infringe on the privacy rights of non-transgender students. If equality is truly the goal, then allowing a transgender to use the bathroom with members of the opposite sex cannot be the answer, because it doesn’t treat both parties equally. Given the aforementioned lawsuits, I don’t think the goal of the LGBTQ community is to have equal rights, but to monopolize the rights of everyone else.
A person is not free to step on someone else’s toes just because he feels a certain way. I teach my children they cannot be unkind to someone because they are feeling grouchy or rude. A LGBTQ person should be no freer than other people to demand special treatment, especially if that treatment imposes on other people’s basic rights.
Adults should strive to make the lives of children both at home and school as peaceable as possible. But not to the point where making peace, accepting different lifestyle choices, and paving a path towards equality becomes a mobocracy of laws and lawsuits that, while supposedly liberating one group of minorities (in the statistical sense), entraps and effectually marginalizes everyone else.