Eshi Vaz, The Amnesty Health Contributor (amongst other things) tells us what she really thinks about the ongoing ‘bathroom debate’….
“No child deserves the burden of being used as a political pawn and political prey”
The pivot around which a free society turns is the equality of all of its citizens and their inalienable right to expression in all its forms. As such, the recent rescinded protection for transgender students which denies them the freedom to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity is a blatant stamp of Trump’s toxic administration and its morally transgressive policies that threaten the lives of an already systematically oppressed community.
Indeed, leaving the rights of transgender youths vulnerable to the decisions of individual states on the premise of “ a moral obligation to protect all students from discrimination, bullying and harassment” is surely paradoxical when the rollback of such legislation simultaneously invalidates people whose gender identity differs from their assigned biological sex. As such, the ‘all’ in the above White House statement from Education Secretary Betsy De Vos, when she seemingly referred to ‘all students’ clearly negates transgender youth which begs the question: what message are we then as a society sending to our children when the normalisation of discrimination at the apex of the political sphere endorses such systemic barriers at large?
The trickle-down effect from the institutions of power which impose policies that are so concerned with policing a nation’s genitalia further exacerbates the rising prevalence of depression within transgender youth and the frequency of suicide ideation in children. Further, there is no evidence that supports this policy: not a shred of data has been recorded indicating that transgender youth choosing the bathrooms they want to use is remotely correlated with any dangers to children. In fact, it is precisely the law itself that endangers transgender youth and children as a whole.
In 2014 alone, 78% of transgender youth surveyed in the United States declared experience of physical harassment and over half admitted to suicidal thoughts. Therefore, fuelled by legislation such as this, it is likely that these rates will increase given the restriction of self-expression which is fundamental to the wellbeing of anyone and everyone. Likewise, when the government regulates the personal decisions of transgender youth as to which ‘bathroom’ they should use, its underlying discrimination threatens the safety of the school environment to all children.
How can a child feel safe and accepted in a school where they are not allowed to go to a bathroom which corroborates with who they are? How can a school cultivate a sense of identity in children when individuality is suppressed? Therefore, it is hardly a concern over children’s wellbeing and protection that has propelled this rollback of protective legislation but rather, it is the blatant ignorance and warped values of fixated attitudes towards gender which have impinged upon the health and the rights of the transgender community. In this sense, not only is this issue one of political potency but it is a deep matter of human rights that has seemingly lacerated the face of social justice. It is thus, in the interest of everyone to stand up to, and oppose such dangerous laws.