Massachusetts was the first state to legalize marriage equality, making the state a pioneer in LGBT rights. Now, they are taking the bull by the horns again, as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has decided that transgender students will be allowed to use the restrooms of the gender with which they identify, and the same goes for playing on sports teams. This is a huge victory for advocates of transgender rights, as well as for common sense. From the new directives:
“These students, because of widespread misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives, are at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying. “Some students may feel uncomfortable sharing those facilities, but this “discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”
I concur with the directives. The thing is, as a rather gender non-conforming lesbian, I know what it is like to be accosted in a restroom because of people questioning my gender. It isn’t fun, and, further, it is humiliating. Not allowing people to use the restrooms with which they are comfortable creates a world of trouble for all involved. This is a great move, and I’d also suggest gender neutral facilities as the next directive in this legislation to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to accommodate genderqueer and gender non-conforming students.
The new rules that are being put into place are because of the 2011 equal opportunity law, which protects transgender people in the state of Massachusetts. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reports that parents, students, advocacy groups, and states with similar policies were consulted when making the decision.
There has, as per usual with this sort of thing, been opposition. One such piece of opposition comes from Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute. He says:
“Fundamentally, boys need to be use boys’ rooms and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity.”
This isn’t surprising, as the number one opponents of LGBT rights usually have the word “Family” in their group names. This is generally code for “No homo” (or, in this case, trans). Nothing new here.
The thing is, Mr. Beckwith, transgender girls are girls, and transgender boys are boys. Anatomy need not come into play here, unless you are suggesting that they should be examining one another’s anatomy while using the toilet.
Good job, Massachusetts. May other states follow your lead.
- Massachusetts Education Department Accommodates Transgender Students – The Huffington Post
- Mass. Education Department issues rules on transgender pupils – The Boston Globe
- Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment – Massachusetts Department of Education