You're Worried About The Wrong Children's Safety In Bathrooms

You're Worried About The Wrong Children's Safety In Bathrooms

Transgender children's safety is constantly left out of the conversation.
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In recent weeks, the debate over whether transgender people should be allowed to use the bathroom matching their gender identity has dominated the media’s coverage. The safety of cisgender children in bathrooms has become a major argument against allowing transgender people to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. Problematically, the safety of transgender children has been left out of the conversation.

To first really understand the conditions and safety of transgender children, it’s important to define what a transgender person is, and the various terms associated with this debate. Transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from the sex they were given at birth. Cisgender people are people whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were given at birth. Gender identity is your personal, internal feeling over being a man, woman, or something outside of that traditional gender binary. Typically, it’s a good idea to ask what pronouns a person may prefer (such as him/he or her/she). It’s a bad idea, just like it’s a bad idea to ask me as someone who identifies as cis, details about private parts. They are, after all, private. Curiosity is natural, but the choice to act on that curiosity is not only impolite but also uncomfortable and offensive to many. For a more comprehensive explanation of what terms associated with the transgender community refer to, the GLADD Media Reference Guide is a well-respected resource.

The recent passing of legislation ordering citizens to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex have been passed in the name of safety --particularly the safety of cisgender children. This claim that children are more protected with the passing of these bills are based off false pretenses. There has been no accounted instance of a transgendered person committing an act of violence in a bathroom. Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union have all released statements regarding the fact there has been no statistical evidence to support the notion that a transgender person has ever harassed a non-transgender person in a bathroom. According to The Advocate, there’s also been no instance of male predators "pretending to be transgender" -- another major cited concern in this debate.

Having these concerns, although based on no statistical evidence, isn’t entirely unjustified. These myths of violence and pretending have been perpetrated in a way that it seems like they are actual, legit instances that have occurred. Parents are instinctively concerned with their children’s safety -- which is what makes those who regard these myths as true, when they are aware there is no basis for their claim, so atrocious.

In the face of this debate, transgender children and adults are having to ask themselves a terrible question: Should I go to one bathroom and possibly get harassed, or go into another and possibly get arrested? Troubling statistics about discrimination faced by transgender people is often omitted in media coverage, and the reality of the questions transgender people are faced with are, therefore, not given the attention they should be. For example, roughly 70 percent of transgender people have reported being denied entrance, harassed, or assaulted while trying to use a restroom. More than 50 percent of transgender youth will attempt suicide by their 20th birthday. Transgender people of color are at an even higher risk of suicide, as well as transgender people in states without legal protection against discrimination and those who have actually been discriminated against.

Going beyond statistics, it’s important to note that some of the most gruesome murders that received minimal media attention in the past 15 years have been of transgender children and young adults. Gwen Araujo of California was beaten and strangled in 2002. Keisha Jenkins was stabbed in the throat, bled out in the street, and later died in a hospital. Amber Monroe was gunned down in the street in an area of Detroit, Michigan known for transgender sex work. Yazmin Vosh Payne’s body burned in her apartment after she had been stabbed in Los Angeles, California. Unfortunately, many more transgender people were faced with horrible fates due to the trans-phobia that has been and is currently manifesting within our country.

This trans-phobia has manifested to a point where people feel uncomfortable, or feel as if they would be uncomfortable, in the presence of a transgender person --in recent months, this feeling of discomfort has becoming a major part of this whole bathroom debacle. Putting aside the notion that people actually feel comfortable in public bathrooms in the first place, it’s important to determine what weight personal comfort level holds in this debate.

The whole idea that a person’s comfort level is justification for not protecting a group of people from discrimination is, frankly, absurd. To allow harassment for a marginalized group to continue for sake of comfort, whether it be a parent or a child’s comfort, is a mind-blowing step backwards for this country. Especially when considering that to ensure this "comfort" means to discriminate, single out, and increase the chances of suicide for transgender people.

And to be completely honest? I’m pretty sure some of my late relatives wouldn’t be "comfortable" going to the bathroom with people of color. They sure wouldn’t be with transgender people. But, it is the year 2016. Progress has been made and progress to protect from discrimination will continue to be made, whether it be immediate or through a slow struggle. They, like many others, would have to get over their discomfort because a private, personal reason of discomfort is not justification for eliminating public decrees and legislation protecting a group of marginalized Americans.

Cover Image Credit: LGBTQ Nation

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
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I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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