The ongoing war over trans bathroom rights

Wyatt Waters, Opinion Editor

Bathrooms, for most people, serve only to satiate a very specific need, and little more. They are not battlegrounds, warzones, nor points of contention. For transgender individuals, however, the opposite is true, for the right of these individuals to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with has become political fodder in America’s bitter battle of bipartisan bickering. While the politics of bathrooms sounds absurd to the average person, this debate has huge implications for transgender people especially, as denying them this most basic right opens the door for the additional curtailment of their rights.

A never-ending debate

As the struggle of transgender individuals has become far more recognized in American society over the last few years, so has the endless, polarized political feuding surrounding the issue.
Last year, contention over transgender bathroom rights reached a fever pitch when North Carolina adopted a bill that made it illegal for individuals to use public bathrooms and locker rooms that do not align with the biological sex listed on their birth certificate. Supporters of the bill argued that allowing trans men and women to use the bathroom they identified with opened the door for sexual predators to prey on women and children. Those opposed to the bill, however, asserted that there are no recorded cases of transgender individuals committing such crimes, and that the bill is a targeted attack on the rights of transgender individuals.
Since this bill passed in North Carolina, similar legislation has been proposed in other state congresses, but public schools specifically have been left within a massive legal grey area. To solve that issue, they asked the Obama administration for guidelines on how to handle it, which prompted the federal government to instruct all public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom they identify with. This was condemned by states’ rights activists as an overreach into those rights, but transgender individuals and advocates rejoiced that, for the time being, the issue had been put to rest.

Upheaval and Uncertainty

Last month, under the Trump administration, this uneasy calm within the transgender bathroom debate was completely shattered, as the Obama administration’s federal instructions were rolled-back before the Supreme Court had finished deliberating upon their constitutionality. As a result, the Supreme Court vacated to a previous court, which means that the lower federal court’s previous decision has been wiped, and it must rehear the case another time.
From all this, only one thing is clear: transgender bathroom rights currently exist within a legal limbo, and it’s up to local and state institutions to decide how they will react, opening the door for what many believe are policies against trans students.

Our Position:

The Patriot Press, first and foremost, unequivocally supports the rights of transgender individuals to use the bathroom they identify with. We fully support the guidelines for public schools given by Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, which states that while the Obama’s administration’s protects have been lifted, those same protections still apply in Washington State schools. The Issaquah School District has echoed this sentiment, taking one more step in creating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment for people of all gender identities.
In response to the argument that allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom they identify with enables sexual predators, the Patriot Press find that this is an unfounded and inaccurate claim. First, it is important to establish that there is massive difference between an individual wearing clothes typically associated with the opposite gender, and person who experiences an identity that does not align with their biological sex. Being transgender exists entirely within what a person feels and believes, not with what that person wears. Gender expression and gender identity are two completely different things, and this argument not only trivializes transgender people, but treats these two components of gender as one and the same.
Furthermore, the use of this argument in the context of schools is absurd, as transgender students are not the perpetrators of violence in this setting, but, in reality, are the victims of it. As previously stated there are no recorded instances of transgender individuals, students or otherwise, committing acts of sexual violence in public restroom. In public schools, however, transgender students are faced with the very real issue of bullying and hazing. Forty percent of transgender individuals have reported attempting suicide, and this is largely because of the hostility and hatred that is openly expressed towards them in public.
Thus, rather than attempting to ostracize transgender students more, as the Trump administration’s roll-back enables, we believe that communities both in the Issaquah School District and around the country should do more to reach out and support transgender students, as they deserve all the appreciation and respect that all other students are treated with.