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The Raider Voice

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The Raider Voice

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The “bathroom debate”

In February, President Trump’s administration revoked guidelines passed under former President Obama which provided transgender students the right to use public school bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Am I surprised? No. Disappointed? Yes. So far, President Trump’s administration has taken a somewhat permissive stance regarding same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights, and though I never got my hopes up, my low expectations rose slightly. Now, it appears that the socially conservative Trump administration was simply biding its time working on other issues before they finally made it to the LGBT+ part of the checklist.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this decision is that it directly contradicts Trump’s positions throughout the campaign before he took office.

“Transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they want. North Carolina did something that was very strong (In Mar. 2016, North Carolina legislators banned people from using bathrooms not intended for their assigned gender). And they’re paying a big price.” Trump said in an NBC town hall event Apr. 2016.

That stance lasted approximately one month in office. Instead, he revoked a landmark law in social progress and copped out of the responsibility by blaming his action on states’ rights. Dear President Trump and other socially conservative politicians, civil rights are not states’ rights issues. When it comes to human rights, issues should not be determined on a state by state basis.

Regarding the debate itself, some people claim that having someone of a different sex in the bathroom with them is dangerous, that transgender people using the ‘wrong’ bathroom increases the probability of sexual assault in public restrooms. These claims are unsubstantiated alternative facts. Statistical evidence from the Human Rights Campaign shows that there are no reported cases of a transgender person harassing a non-transgender person in a public restroom.

Other people might ask “so what’s the big deal?” On the outside, it only looks like some transgender kids in some schools will now have to use a different bathroom. However, transgender persons are a highly vulnerable minority, and this change is indicative of much larger problems.

There are fewer laws protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, and other fields than other minorities. In addition, according to a study by the Williams Institute, young transgender persons have a far higher risk of suicide than their cisgender counterparts. In the study, more than forty percent of all transgender persons surveyed had tried to commit suicide.

“Mental health factors and experiences of harassment, discrimination, violence and rejection may interact to produce a marked vulnerability to suicidal behavior in … gender non-conforming individuals,” the published study revealed.

This law being revoked puts our own citizens at risk, and no vague discussion of states’ rights will justify this political stunt. If you would like to make a difference regarding LGBT+ issues, you can call your state representatives about transgender students’ rights within Florida or work with the Human Rights Campaign, a foundation that pursues equal rights for LGBT+ persons in the United States.

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