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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Protect trans students


Gender-inclusive restrooms are a basic human right

Signs on single-stalled bathrooms with girls in triangle skirts and boys in plastic pants are to be removed all over the UC Davis campus and replaced by gender-inclusive triangles by the end of this month. The single act of transforming gendered or unisex bathrooms into inclusive bathrooms signals an effort on campus to make restrooms a safe space for those who identify as transgender, genderqueer and gender nonconforming.

The idea is not necessarily new — the Obama administration issued statements on the subject, calling on the nation’s public schools to provide gender-inclusive bathrooms for students. To deny students this right, the statements declared, would be against federal anti-discrimination laws.

The Trump administration plans to actively change these new policies regarding bathrooms, starting with rolling back protections for transgender students. In a two-page letter, the Trump administration explains the need to withdraw previous memos on gender-inclusive bathrooms because the memos did not contain “extensive legal analysis,” nor did they “go through any formal public process.” The Editorial Board vehemently denounces this regression in public policy.

Much like previous actions of the Trump administration, this revokes the rights of a marginalized community in the US and is not only detrimental to the progress UC Davis has made in creating a safe space for transgender students, it is also a violation of anti-discrimination laws and alienates the students that the Obama administration aimed to protect. This step brings us as a country back to the absurd notion that genitalia dictates how one should use the bathroom, regardless if a trans person has already transitioned.  

Overturning gender-inclusive bathrooms in public schools is in part a response to several state bills, such as House Bill 2 from North Carolina, calling for separate bathrooms with no distinction for trans people. The bill mainly focused on male to female transitioning adults, with the fear of sexual predators. Proponents of the bill cited cases that occurred in the past, before gender-inclusive bathrooms came to fruition, in which males would put on feminine clothes and go into the female bathroom to engage in non-consensual sexual behavior.

However, comparing, in any way, trans people to sexual predators is deeply offensive. It conjures previously held stigmas against gay men and the antiquated idea that men of homosexual orientation were pedophiles, an idea that has long been held as utterly bigoted.

In fact, the people who seem to be overwhelmingly targeted in public restrooms are, in fact, trans people.

According to an NPR article, that cited a recent survey of 93 gender-nonconforming individuals in the Washington, D.C. area, about of 70 percent of the sample reported experiencing being denied access to restrooms, being harassed while using restrooms and even experiencing some forms of physical assault.

This Editorial Board calls on the administration of UC Davis to first and foremost uphold the value that gender-inclusive bathrooms are not only safe spaces for gender-nonconforming individuals, they but are also a human right. We hope that other public schools at every grade level will follow this example and resist the bigoted claims against gender-inclusive bathrooms


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