Massachusetts has passed a law which changes the way that transgender students are treated. It has stirred up quite a bit of controversy, but this change in the way that trans students will be treated has been passed down from the board of education, and they’re not budging.
What the Law Does
If a transgendered child wants to use the bathroom, which one do they go in? Do they use the restroom labeled to match their assigned gender, or the gender they feel they truly are? If a male student who lives as a female wants to join a sports team, should they join the boys’ team or the girls’ team? This law states that transgender individuals are allowed to use the facilities which correspond to the gender they identify as. For example, a person who was assigned the female gender at birth, who identifies as male, is allowed to use the men’s room, and join any men’s sports team they choose.
A Transgendered Battle Ground
For transgender people, gender specific facilities are a frustrating aspect of everyday life, which can make living as their preferred gender challenging at times. The issue is crowded with uncertainty, as even the transgender person themselves may not be certain which restroom they feel comfortable in. Additionally, in some areas using the restroom corresponding to their gender identity may result in legal action or violence. However, using the restroom which their biological gender would dictate may result in the same mess. By passing this law, much of the uncertainty surrounding the issue is removed.
Reduction of Violence
Especially for trans women, being forced to use the men’s restroom can be dangerous. In the privacy of such an enclosed space, where their difference is highlighted, trans women face the potential for violence much more so than they do if they choose to take their business into the ladies’ room. Men’s reactions to trans women tends to be stronger and much more violent than women’s reactions to the same individual, and so being able to use the ladies room may be a necessity born out of self-preservation for some transgender women.
Of course, there are quite a few concerned parents who feel that this direction an improper one for the school to take. One of the committee members, Thomas Minichiello, was quoted as saying “I don’t have daughters. But if I did … I don’t think I’d feel comfortable having a boy going in the bathroom when my daughter is there.” However, many point out that a trans woman is mentally the same as a woman, so there isn’t really any danger involved to the women using the restroom.
More so than the actual privilege of using the proper restroom, this gesture fosters an environment of acceptance, wherein trans students can know that the policy makers in their school support them. By passing this law, the Massachusetts board of Education has proven that they stand behind their transgender students.