By Sharanya Gopinathan
Last May, the Obama administration issued a guidance, calling for transgender students to be treated under a federal law that prevents sex discrimination, in response to questions from public schools on how to accommodate transgender students in schools with gender segregated bathrooms. The administration’s guidance stated that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms allocated to the gender that they live their daily lives as, and also reiterated the importance of using their correct preferred pronouns and names, and making sure that they weren’t bullied or harassed on campus.
US President Donald Trump has rescinded this guidance through a letter, which states that transgender students can be excluded from locker rooms and bathrooms on the basis of their gender identity, and the decision whether or not to allow them into access these spaces should be left to the schools and states to decide. The letter also states that the government needs to fully consider the legal issues involved.
While I guess it’s nice that the government has admitted that it hasn’t fully considered the legal issues involved when it released this letter, it’s exciting to think about how they will feel when they do, because the move is patently unconstitutional. Several courts at several different levels have ruled that discrimination against transgender people on the basis of their gender does amount to a violation of Title IX, which prevents sex discrimination in education.
It’s interesting to note that this one of the moves Trump has undertaken so early in his term, especially given how the White House and his campaign liked to boast that he was in support of LGBT rights, and was widely lauded by his own team for mentioning the community in his acceptance speech, becoming the first Republican president to do so. It’s clear that these were just words he used that he had no intention of backing up with action. Putting out a letter like this, whether unconstitutional or not, puts out a clear message that the administration doesn’t think that the rights of transgender children are worth protecting.
Meanwhile, American netizens just can’t seem to get over Obama. Pictures of Obama vacationing after handing over to Trump have inspired jokes and memes about how hard it is to get over a breakup, and how it feels like Trump is America’s scary new stepdad.
For it’s own part, in India, the Supreme Court recognised the “third gender” and stated that transgender people have the right to choose their own gender identity. The verdict, popularly known as the NALSA judgement, also included a directive for separate toilets to be built for transgender people in public places. As of 2016, Mysore is the only city in India with a single “third gender” toilet. So while the Indian Supreme Court has recognised that transgender people need bathrooms they can use, they’ve taken a different route from American jurisprudence, and we’re clearly a long way from implementing their directives.
Oh, and by the way, check out The Late Show‘s response to the Trump administration’s new move: