Several Massachusetts lawmakers are not happy with new guidance from the state’s Department of Education advising on how to respect transgender students in school, based on nondiscrimination law passed in 2011. Notably, they believe that allowing them to use the appropriate restroom is somehow going to infringe on other students’ privacy. To correct that, they are taking the brash step of proposing a bill that define students’ gender by their anatomy instead of by their actual identities. Here are some of the unfortunate anti-trans comments they shared with the Lowell Sun:
REP. COLLEEN GARRY (D): An anatomical male in a locker room could make girls feel uncomfortable and vice versa. The (2011) bill was not to accommodate locker rooms and bathrooms, but the commissioner took it upon himself to provide guidance to schools… This is guidance; it’s not regulation. It’s their interpretation of how schools should handle things.
REP. SHEILA HARRINGTON (R): Obviously we’re very sensitive to people with transgender issues, and we’re trying to be compassionate, but we want to be respectful of the privacy of all people.
REP. MARC LOMBARDO (R): It’s time we say enough to this radical social agenda promoted by the administration and use common sense to protect our children.
Transgender young people do not have “issues,” nor are they in any way a threat to any student. What these lawmakers are trying to do is to force an identity upon a trans students that they don’t have, thereby negating the entire purpose of a nondiscrimination law protecting them.
What needs to happen in both schools and apparently the legislature is some basic education about what it means to be transgender. Women have a legitimate reason to be concerned if there is, in fact, a man in their locker room, but that has absolutely nothing to do with a trans woman. Society may attempt to assign a gender based on a person’s anatomy, but the entire point trans people are trying to teach the world around them is that sometimes society gets it wrong. Forcing someone who is trans into the wrong facility or a separate facility they don’t require for their own sense of safety is a rejection of that person’s identity, and it’s government endorsement of that rejection that fuels anti-trans stigma.
GLSEN reported that in 2011, 63.9 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed because of their gender expression. Thanks to these lawmakers, that number just jumped to 100 in Massachusetts.