In another step forward for transgender rights, the ability to play on sports teams matching their gender is spreading across school districts. Recently in Minnesota a school voted in a landslide victory to let their athletes play on their gender team. This is something that increasingly is being done, but in this particular case, a little more spotlight was shed on the issue thanks to the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton. Governor Dayton chose to address not only this issue, but people who voted against the measure. He had seen an advertisement printed by the Minnesota Child Protection League in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The advertisements contained not only false claims about what exactly the measure meant, and who it would impact, but used an overly emotional argument to influence people’s opinions before the vote. The Governor addressed the ad by saying
“I think some of the hate-mongering that was going on was just despicable…I can’t comprehend how some people in this state can want to spend their time on something that’s that destructive to other people’s lives and misstate it in such a way that is really appalling.”
The more that we see people who have a public audience stand up and express their support for not only transgender rights, but LGBTQ rights and human rights in general, the more exposure and gravity these movements gain. Every speech, blog, conversation, and comment helps.
With all the discussion happening regarding Universities and Colleges [mis]handlings of on-campus rape cases, many people have never stopped to consider an important question.
Why is that their responsibility? Why isn’t it taken to the police?
It’s a fair concern. After all, rape and sexual assault are serious charges. This article by Politico details not only why, but how it came to be that campus assaults became handled this way. It’s an incredibly informative piece.
It’s always good to see schools preemptively adapt to their students. A school district in Clifton Park, New York has started the process to officially allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. This is the first case that I’ve seen where a school began putting policies like this up for a vote without any legal pressure or public pressure related to a current student. They will require the students to have some sort of “documentation” (presumably a doctor’s note or some other medical personnel’s diagnosis with gender identity disorder, or something similar), as well as permission from high-ranking school officials. I would guess that these restrictions were put into place to help quell some adult concerns about sexual assaults and boys sneaking into the women’s room. In my opinion, it would be incredibly difficult for a teenage boy to truly, passably, fake being transgender, but apparently not everyone agrees with that. The school makes a point to specify the “gender identity that the student exclusively and consistently asserts at school,” which is, again, a smart way to clarify that this is meant for students well into their transition.
I’ve talked about this a lot. Now, we have a professional article from a legitimate source talking about the handling of sexual assault and rape in universities and colleges. Honestly it just needs to be talked about in general. This is serious, this is way more common than it should be, and it’s not slowing down. Educate yourself, and force the schools to as well.
I’m sure a lot of you heard about Emma Sulkowicz and her project “Carry that Weight,” in response to her school (Columbia University) refusing to expel her rapist. She vowed to carry her dorm mattress around until he was removed from the University. The project gained a significant amount of support, with other students assisting her and waiting outside of her classes to help carry the mattress. The project has now taken even more exciting turns, gaining notoriety and support from within the university and around the world. She has inspired other students, even some so close as the same floor of her dorm, to join in the mattress-carrying, awareness-raising, change-demanding movement. Students all over the world joined together for one day to air out their mattresses and their personal struggles in a demonstration of how poorly sexual assaults are often handled on college campuses everywhere. Huffington Post reports over 10,000 RSVPs for “attending” on the facebook event page for the protest.
Now, I’ve written about this issue before, both in my “Objectification Nation” post and in my “Not So Frat-tastic” post, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve been following this as well. What should surprise you, is that there haven’t been many responses from schools. This article from Time.com displays link after link of investigative reporting and opinion reporting of sexual assaults on campuses (specifically regarding their handling by administration). That in itself should show you this isn’t one person’s problem. This isn’t one school’s problem. This isn’t even one country’s problem. This is something that affects all of us and it needs to be addressed until it’s changed. Whether we use demonstrations, articles, petitions, or simple conversations, we need to keep reminding ourselves and others that problems like this exist because we let them, and we shouldn’t continue that cycle.
When I was younger, I wasn’t well-informed on anything except for which of my friends had the best swimming pool. Things have changed a lot since then. There are young people everywhere literally changing the world. Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Prize at just 17 for her work in women’s education and basic rights movements. Now, here’s a young woman at the forefront of the transgender rights and education movement, at only 14 years old. Jazz Jennings knew before she could understand the complex roles gender identity played in societal and social mores, that she wasn’t the gender she was assigned. From the looks of it, she hasn’t doubted it for a second since then. That makes her willingness to speak out, help adults and children alike, and represent a rapidly changing perception of gender dysphoria and transgender individuals that much more remarkable. Young people like Malala and Jazz are showing the world that these issues are so important that people 20, 30, 40, even 50 years younger than the politicians representing them are willing to get out into the real world and fight for them. If that doesn’t send a message, I don’t know what does.
This is a sticky subject right now. Being that it is controversial, rarely agreed upon, and a current hot issue, of course I have a hard-set opinion on it. Lets jump right into it. Making new rules regarding transgender children and their rights and treatment while at school is causing a lot of headaches and heartache. There are a variety of viewpoints and LOTS of parenting opinions on transgender children. Letting your child dress in opposite-sex-role clothing seems harmless to some, seems simply like a phase to others, and offends more than a few. Let me be the first to acknowledge that not every kid who wants to be a boy or a girl is transgender. I grew up with two brothers, and genuinely thought I was just another boy at times. There is nothing wrong with a kid who wants to try out another identity. They’ll keep doing that for a long time. I mean, how many people went “goth” at some point in high school? Now, lets also acknowledge that from a very young age some children know for a fact that they’re in the wrong body. They don’t feel comfortable with themselves or their assigned gender role. That’s okay too. The last thing those children need is to be constantly shoved back into a mold that they don’t fit in. I understand that not everyone shares this opinion, but here’s where it really gets tricky. Can we not agree that telling a child to change their ingrained personality over and over isn’t damaging? It would be scary for anyone to change in front of, use the bathroom in front of, or shower in front of people they aren’t comfortable around. Imagine if you faced harassment every gym class. That is what’s happening, and that’s what people are starting to see.
By Rikki Marie Dubois (sourced from amazon.com)
Transgender education sites, books, cartoons, and other helpful (and adorable) sources are popping up all over the place as a resource for both parents and caretakers everywhere. There are people fighting and winning battles to let their child use the bathroom/locker room that they’re comfortable in all over the U.S. This is a tense issue for some, as they don’t want their child exposed to such a confusing issue so young. Here’s my opinion though: This issue is so confusing and complicated because most of us are learning about it as adults. It’s change for us, and change can be uncomfortable. However, if you raise your young ones to learn and accept others as they come (no matter WHAT shade of the rainbow that may be), they’ll grow up with that as a normal part of life. It won’t be hard for them to figure out later in life why that man is wearing lipstick, or why that girl’s hair is so short. It will just be another person on the street to them. THAT, my friends, is a powerful thing.