This Is Not About Bathrooms

This Is Not About Bathrooms

Trans rights are human rights.
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Last month, the Trump administration began their rollbacks of the Title IX protections the Obama administration implemented for transgender students.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating against students based on sex. Last May, the Obama administration implemented specifications that under Title IX, federally-funded schools must also extend these protections to transgender students and guarantee them the right to use the bathroom corresponding with their identity.

The Trump administration has already begun the process of withdrawing these protections for transgender students. This is a direct act of discrimination and prejudice against the transgender community and we cannot stand idly by while it happens.

The reversal of Title IX perpetuates the marginalization of the transgender community and undermines their rights to safety, respect, and acceptance. By denying transgender students the right to use of the bathroom of their chosen identity, you are refusing to acknowledge their humanity and very existence.

Supposedly this is a "protective" measure to prevent cases of bathroom crimes and sexual harassment. This argument does not stand. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, there has never been any reported incident of a transgender person attacking a cisgender person in a public bathroom. Moreover, a 2013 Williams Institute study reported that "roughly 70% of trans people have reported being denied entrance, assaulted or harassed while trying to use a restroom."

Transgender students are not the enemy -- they are the ones suffering and being failed by discriminatory legislation. We must establish and maintain protections for transgender Americans because no person should be told that their identity is "incorrect" or "invalid."

This is not about bathrooms, and it is not a matter of giving transgender, intersex, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people their own "special" bathroom to use ("separate but equal" ain't equal, people). It is about validating these already ostracized communities of people and acknowledging them as fully human. It is about ending the discrimination against those who don't fit the constructed ideals of what it means to be "man" or "woman."

Gender is a socially constructed system of organizing people into these two distinct groups of man and woman. The characteristics we identify with these groups have been constructed by us, by society -- which also means we have the power to deconstruct them. In order to protect our transgender citizens, we must work to eliminate the stigma they face because they somehow confuse this binary system so many people blindingly and ignorantly believe in.

Stand up for those whose voices are being silenced and help protect the human rights of transgender Americans. They are valid, they are worthy, and they are whole. It is our job to deconstruct this system of gender and oppression so we can reconstruct a society built on equality and tolerance for all.

Cover Image Credit: New Statesman

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Educate Yourself And Spread Facts, Not Bias

Do you know the truth? Or are you allowing rumors to cloud your judgement of the political arena?

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In our society, the government has grown to be a capitalistic effort. Payout, backroom deals, we are unaware of many actions those that represent us take behind closed doors. The transparency we think we see is unrealistic and just not the way that politics actually work. In the entire world, governance has become essential to the survival and future of society. No two governments are the same, and they are essentially ever changing as many people of power change constantly.

This being said influence from these individuals rule the political sphere. Whether it be a local councilperson, senator, governor, or even the president.IN the U.S. our daily lives and wellbeing rest in the hands of the few. Some of these politicians are honest and work genuinely for the people. However, agenda frequently takes over the arena and leaves the decisions of our livelihood to the gains of politicians.

Our generation has the lowest voter turnout, leaving the decisions that we do have to older generations. Some of those hold ideologies that are not relevant nor acceptable to the climate we live in today. This is not a call to action but more of a thought. As someone who was incredibly uninvolved in politics, I wanted to look at why I lacked the care that other people my age held so passionately. I believe it starts with my distaste of conflict, which many people my age also agree with. Politics can lead to confrontation and negative conversation.

Therefore, who would want to make friendships and interactions awkward with an avoidable subject. I found myself straying from these conversations and becoming uncomfortable when friends assert opinions that I do not agree with. However, in taking classes where this environment hinges the change in industries I study. I was forced to form some type of opinion in the matter.

From here I decided to change the lens on how I looked at politics. Instead of shying away, I really listened to what my professors felt about it and their assertions. I then did my own research, looking into the history of matters that my peers and professors talked about. Educating myself on what the facts were, versus believing in rumors that I heard through the grapevine.

I started engaging friends in a positive manner, as opposing opinions are valuable in a holistic situational viewpoint. I became comfortable in the discomfort of politics and worked to learn what may be in store for our world. My point for this is to educate yourself on genuine fact. Do not assert opinions based on information that your friend or even a professor gives you, keep your knowledge on the subject relevant.

You never know when legislation may come out that seriously effects your way of life. Most importantly, knowledge is power and power is what those that leave us in ignorance have over us.

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