For some reason, the historically pro-deregulation GOP is obsessed with policing people’s bodies. If Republican lawmakers are not fussing over a woman’s right to have an abortion, they’re in a tizzy about where transgender people can urinate.
On Wednesday, Trump’s administration thought it wise to revoke last year’s landmark guidance to public schools that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. According to the New York Times, top officials from both the Justice Department and the Education Department are now rejecting that nondiscrimination law enacted by President Barack Obama. According to them, Obama’s directive was “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
When enacted, Obama used a simple tactic to ensure school’s followed the policy: let trans people choose which bathroom they want to use; if you don’t comply, we’ll cut off your federal funding. It sounds like extortion, but when it comes to human rights and policies against discrimination, such terse ultimatums are necessary to get opponents to adhere—and they always have been. And so when this happened last year, the trans community jubilated as they started to see an actual, tangible movement toward inclusivity, and one that addressed what they believe to be a part of basic human rights.
Liberals want the same resolution conservatives have always wanted.
But yesterday’s revocation once again brings to light the thinking of the Trump administration: equal laws for women, immigrants, people with disabilities, people of color and the trans community is not a human rights issue. Those within Trump’s administration seem to believe that issues affecting these communities are just part of a libtard agenda—the whims of snowflakes, if you will, in an effort grant everybody a safe space. Of course, since the election, the on-going conversation from the right has been that Never Trumpers want to erode all things sacred and are waging a war on tradition. You know, make America great again and all that.
The most dumbfounding thing about this issue and allowing states to regulate what bathrooms kids use is that, in the end, liberals want the same resolution conservatives have always wanted. They don’t want anyone—from the federal government to their neighbors—dictating how they should live their lives. The liberal agenda is set on equating people of different races, religions, sexual orientations and gender expressions as part of the same humanity. That is, as normal. But conservatives keep relying on a fundamentally “us versus them” argument (“their protections will infringe our protections”), which in this case, hands over regulation duties to 50 states and hundred and hundreds of school districts. Perpetuating a war founded on binary thought will in effect destroy both sides.
The idea that anyone could be prevented from marrying who they’d like, or to be treated like a second-class citizen based on who they love, or to be kept away from bigger opportunities due to their gender expression, is authoritarianism, plain and simple. That goes against everything the Republican Party has long championed—except, of course, when it comes to issues related to sexual identity.
Sex discrimination has included discrimination against the trans community for as long as it’s included anyone outside of the puritanical paradigm of white men only marrying white women. Unfortunately, up until the last three years, transgender people have had hardly one positive voice in mainstream media. Meanwhile, they’ve suffered discrimination in the workplace, at government institutions, in prisons and most terribly, at public schools, which is already a hotbed of bullying, no matter your gender or sexual orientation. Widespread discrimination and inequality is an epidemic, and while some pretend that economics or homeland security is more important, others forget that they all need to work together to create the greatest country in the world. But that transformation begins in the classroom. Education is key to success, regardless of your politics. So then supporting discrimination—and the erasure of transgender people’s rights—in schools of all places is akin to poisoning the well from which everyone drinks.
The federal law at the center of Trump’s decision, known as Title IX, in fact bans sex discrimination in the education system. But right now, it remains nebulous whether Title IX protections extend to a person’s gender identity, and it’s a discussion that will surely reach the Supreme Court. Luckily, the trans community has a support base outside of Washington D.C., from Palo Alto, California to New York City.
“Apple believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination,” Apple said in a statement to Axios late Wednesday. “We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.” On Instagram, Laverne Cox posted “#ProtectTransKids #StandWithGavin Trans people have a right to exist in public space with equal access, with ”#TransIsBeautiful #TransRightsAreHumanRights #TransLivesMatter.” Actress Patricia Arquette tweeted, “Trans kids drop out of school & commit suicide b/c of bullying. Now we can add the Secretary of Education and President 2 list of bullies.” And of course Ellen, too, has thrown in her unwavering support. “For anyone who feels scared or hopeless, know that we will never stop fighting for your rights,” she wrote.
Most interestingly, Education Secretary Betsy Devos reportedly does not agree with the Trump administration on this matter. So why is she not standing up for what she believes in? That is perhaps her one official job responsibility as a servant to the people, right? (Has the slow rise of fascism shuttered her mouth?) In the meantime, we’re hoping some politician somewhere—preferably female—will introduce a law stating that heterosexual men can no longer be able to “adjust themselves” in the workplace. Or that a men’s bathroom has to be at least 100 feet away from the nearest women’s bathroom. Or that men cannot be in the eye line of a woman walking into a bathroom. Aren’t you curious as to what the backlash will be then?