For the last few years, transgender bathroom rights have been a hot topic. During his second term, President Obama passed Title IX, protecting the right of transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. The Obama Administration ensured that these regulations were being followed by warning public schools that defied the federal regulations that they would in turn, lose federal funds. Thirteen states challenged the Obama guidelines, and a Texas judge put them on hold.
In late February, Trump withdrew federal transgender protection laws, hence leaving it up to the states to create their own laws. White House speaker, Sean Spicer, states, “The president has made it clear throughout the campaign that he’s a firm believer in states’ rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level.” Considering that many states challenged Obama’s protection laws it is very likely that few states will issue transgender protection laws of their own and many might even issue harmful regulations. Many states such as North Carolina already have laws restricting public bathroom use for transgender individuals and prohibits municipal governments in the state from passing laws protecting the rights of transgender people. It also requires trans people in government facilities to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. State legislatures in several other states such as New Hampshire, Colorado, and Texas are currently considering similar bills.
The repeal of an important federal regulation puts transgender students at great risk. A few years ago, a transgender high school student was attacked in his school bathroom in suburban San Francisco. The 15 year-old was physically assaulted, pushed into a stall, and molested by three other students when attempting to leave the bathroom. This was not the first incident of hate motivated crime towards transgender students at this school. Based on a poll of 93 trans people conducted in 2008 and 2009, 70 percent “reported experiencing being denied access to restrooms, being harassed while using restrooms and even experiencing some forms of physical assault.”
Everyone deserves to feel safe on campus and have access to amenities such as bathrooms. In light of these recent events, the UC Office of The President has issued the following statement: “The University of California, in accordance with state law and in keeping with its own principles of nondiscrimination will continue to ensure that its transgender students and faculty and staff members have unrestricted access to restrooms that conform to their gender identities. We are heartened to hear that protecting all students, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, remains a stated priority for the Department of Education.”
There are also various resources offered here on campus for students and staff who experience any kind of discrimination or harassment. These include but are not limited to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Office of Ombuds services, and Campus Advocacy Resources and Educations (CARE).
Picture Credits: Justin Gonzalez