While doing a short talk on 21st Century gender today, I felt I had to say something about the news that the WH will not be supporting trans students’ bathroom use.
Here’s a few things we know:
All of which, added up, means that this tiny, marginalized, misunderstood minority of trans people need safe access to bathrooms, that they need bathrooms to get an education, that there is little risk to cisgender students when trans students use the bathroom, and that this whole idea that this is about preventing violence against women or children is completely fucking ridiculous, unfounded, and frankly, insulting to every woman and every feminist and every survivor (including the male ones) of sexual violence in this goddamned country.
Here’s NCTE’s FAQ on what the withdrawal of guidance means.
Love to all the trans people out there. I’m with you.
Here’s a really great piece on bathrooms, Title VII and Title IX, and the “Dear Colleague” letter the DOE published. It explains clearly what the issues are, such as:
So is the Obama administration making a rule that trans people must be permitted to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, or is it interpreting an existing rule?
With respect to Title IX, the DOE issued a “Dear Colleague” letter—which it says is simply a guidance document, not a new rule. The regulations permitting separate bathrooms for boys and girls were unclear about where trans students fit, and the administration decided to let them decide for themselves based on their gender identity.
and they answer other questions such as:
- What is Title VII?
- What is Title IX?
- But why do they think “sex” includes gender identity?
- But didn’t these agencies just decide that “sex” in Title VII and Title IX includes gender identity? Can they do that? Isn’t that something Congress should do?
But it’s the advice at the end that made me laugh:
You’re now well-equipped to argue, with the law as your weapon, that the Obama administration did a good and legal thing when it decided to recognize the dignity of trans students, and you can tell everyone who is gripped by the bathroom panic to either calm down or suck it up.
I’ve been a self-proclaimed feminist for 20 years now, and it took me a very, very long while to realize that Title IX was not ONLY about sports. It states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.
There is no specific mention of sports, you’ll notice. I’ll be honest that that bias toward the sports issues it raised really pisses me off. And to clarify: I don’t hate sports. I just hate the way sports take up all the air in the room, all the time. And in this case, one of the reasons every reference we hear to Title IX concerns sports is because right out of the gate there were people more worried about how this might disrupt male athletes for a tiny goddamn second.
So to clarify, Title IX actually addresses all inequities in ANY EDUCATION PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY, which includes (but is not limited to):
- Access to Higher Education,
- Career Education,
- Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students,
- Learning Environment,
- Math and Science,
- Sexual Harassment,
- Standardized Testing
That said, today it has been 40 years since Title IX was enacted by President Nixon, and I’m glad we’ve got it. Lately, honestly, I’m wondering what happened that we seemed to abandon so many of the amazing goals of the 60s and 70s, or exactly when we took our eye off equity.