The Fascist Juggernaut Keeps Moving...Rolls Back Anti-discrimination Protections for Transgender Students
February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a Reader:
On Wednesday night, February 22, the Trump administration officially rolled back federal anti-discrimination protections for transgender students. The so-called Departments of “Justice” and “Education”—under the fascist oversight of the reactionaries Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos—issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” withdrawing a policy that extended the anti-discrimination protection of Title IX laws to students who identify as a gender that’s different from the sex they were born with. The immediate legal effect is that schools are no longer obligated to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.
The support for this rollback of rights declares “state’s rights” (echoing slavery) and “religious freedom” (freedom to be a bigot). In reality, it is an encouragement to police the bathrooms at schools, and police the very identities and sexuality of young people. This creates a climate where children and teenagers feel freakish for not conforming and complying with the patriarchal expectations imposed on them at birth—of aggressive and dominating masculinity, or submissive and servile femininity. It slaps them back into rigid gender roles. The message: Any exploration and identification outside of those roles will not be tolerated. You don’t fit into that? There’s something wrong with you.
Transgender youth already face intolerable discrimination and bullying at school. According to a report from GLSEN (Gay Lesbian & Straight Education network), 75 percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school. In a 2016 study of transgender students by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 30 percent reported a history of at least one suicide attempt. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 50 percent of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime. And study after study has shown that policies protecting LGBT people correspond with lower suicide rates (especially children), while policies like this one, that target LGBT people, have the opposite effect (“Individual- and Structural-Level Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts Among Transgender Adults,” 2015). This policy will cost lives. This administration is now, along with its whole host of crimes, officially in the business of driving young people to suicide.
Those who don’t “fit in” to their assigned gender role face a daily and sometimes deadly obstacle course of judgment, alienation, harassment, and violence. Hard enough just to be a teenager, being trans or not rigidly set into a gender means people can’t tell “what you are,” or whether to treat you as a full human being or not. Being “confusing” or “threatening” to those standards means you are getting negative attention all the time. Relentless bullying, invasive stares, disgust, terrorizing, humiliating, and often brutal violence and threats of violence. Few places do you feel accepted and nowhere do you feel safe. People regularly despise you and tell you you’re going to burn in hell. Now in addition to all that, if you are a trans girl, you are forced to go to the boy’s bathroom, the boy’s locker room. Some of those boys are your worst bullies. In a world that offers you no safety, now you are expected to take off your clothes and be at your most physically vulnerable in a room full of boys. Every day.
WHY? This recent canceling out of the rights, discarding the safety and dignity of transgender and other gender non-conforming young people, is perfectly in line with the fascist, hyper-patriarchal, Trump/Pence program.
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