Transgender Students Deserve True Equality

A member of Dunbar’s Gay-Straight Alliance club reacts to the controversial “Transgender Bathroom Bill” in Kentucky

In February of this year, the Kentucky Senate approved a bill that discriminates heavily against transgender students. Essentially, transgender teens are restricted to the restrooms, locker rooms, and showers of the sex they were born with, preventing them from fully living as their true gender. The bill was originally voted on and struck down, but when it was “quietly” re-voted on, (while, conveniently, two thirds of the opposing senators were absent due to bad weather) it was passed with little opposition 27-9, and moved into the House.

Quite honestly, I don’t understand how this kind of underhanded legislation got that far. Even ignoring the content of the bill, I can’t see the fairness in making a decision like this without all of the senators present- especially not when the outcome affects students all across Kentucky. Teens in the LGBTQQIAA+ community face enough erasure and discrimination as it is, so when I heard that this decision was made with such little consideration for those same teens, it was incredibly discouraging and infuriating.

Some of the statements in favor of this bill, SB 76, include references to young girls and teens being forced to see male genitalia at an early age, as well as the risk of trans students being bullied when they use the “incorrect” bathroom. At first glance, this seems a fair enough argument to most people- understandably so. But as an obsessive teenager with too much time on her hands, I picked through every argument in favor of SB 76, armed with hours upon hours of research- and, as expected, I found major flaws in their logic.

Why would a young girl see male genitalia in a women’s restroom? For those who do not frequent them, there are no urinals or open toilets in the girls’ bathrooms. If a transgender girl (biologically born a boy, but identifies as a girl) were to use the girls’ restroom, at no point would she expose herself to others. The same goes for trans boys- without being crude, transgendered boys don’t generally have the ability to use urinals, and thus would do whatever they had to do in the stalls available in boys’ restrooms; at no point in time are the trans students exposing themselves to cis-gendered (born with a gender that matches their gender identity) students of the same gender.

It is the major lack of critical thinking on the senators’ parts that kills me.

— Jade Flowers

Additionally, if transgender students were being bullied because of their restroom choice, wouldn’t it make more sense to create specific legislature that protected them? It seems to me that if trans students were forced to use a staff, unisex, or transgender-specific bathroom, it would ‘out’ them to the entire school, and that would induce bullying. If they were forced to use the facilities of their biological sex, they would further feel alienated and ignored in the school setting. This only tells me that the senators are looking for a quick-fix to an ongoing problem; this isn’t acceptable behavior from our public officials.

It is the major lack of critical thinking on the senators’ parts that kills me. Though they have given general fears as the motivation for this ruling, I can only see their closed-mindedness as what stands in the way of trans students’ acceptance and equality; concerns in regards to ‘the privacy’ and ‘the immediate safety’ of students have no grounds as far as I can see.

At the end of the day, these senators are afraid. They are afraid of change, and afraid of making too many waves in this sort-of-but-not-completely-southern state by refusing to accept transphobia and discrimination against all LGBTQQIAA+ students. The prejudice, cowardice, and religious beliefs of our Republican-led senate unfairly keep transgender students from having access to such a basic right as using the correct restroom.

I’m tired of seeing stories of transgender teens committing suicide. I’m tired of hearing that yet another trans woman or man has been slaughtered in cold blood. I am tired of holding my transgender friend as she cries because she doesn’t feel safe in school, because she is afraid of being “outed,” and because the lack of compassion trans people receive has stolen all optimism she once had.

It’s important to remember that most LGBTQQIAA+ students either need to, or feel the need to hide their true identities at home. School is a safe place for most of us to be open about who we are- attending GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) weekly is our chance to express ourselves without judgment.

How can we be happy when our government is working to take that away?