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Genderless Restroom Debate

August 26, 2016

By Estephania BaezBaños-696x493

California passed a gender-neutral restroom bill this year allowing individuals to choose the bathroom they feel most comfortable using. However, the implementation of the bill has led to a heated debate that has now reached the floor of the U.S. Senate. 

Back in April, some schools in the state implemented these bathrooms. Their common denominator was to keep these bathrooms away from the rest so that the students would not be harassed or bullied by their classmates. This, however, did not happen, as the first act of violence erupted when a student who had transitioned from male to female decided to use the girls’ bathroom instead of the one she had been assigned. The student was first criticized by other classmates and then met with derogatory language by male students as she left the restroom. The female student stated that she wanted to use the restroom her girlfriends use so that she wouldn’t feel different, but it turned out to be worse.

Far from feeling relieved by the approval of these restrooms, mothers of transgender children fear that they will become targets of bullying. 

“I am worried. There are days when she tells me that she would rather not use the bathroom so she just holds it in, which is bad for her health. I just don’t know what to do,” said Mary, who has a daughter at an Elementary school in Santee, adding that she supports her daughter 100 percent, but is now worried about her health.

The measure approved in May by the California State Assembly by a 52 to 18 vote made it mandatory in California, home to 39 million residents, for all bars, restaurants and other businesses to provide gender-neutral bathrooms. Other states, such as North Carolina, have opted for making transgender individuals use the restroom in accordance to the gender stated in their birth certificate.

Throughout the country, mothers and fathers of children facing similar situations are coming together and sharing their moving stories in disbelief that having these bathrooms would make not only students and teachers, but also other parents, so uncomfortable.

“It’s ignorance and a lack of education. I don’t know why they want to ostracize our kids, but what they lack most is a heart. They’re parents, how can they not understand that we do and give everything to help our children,” shared Sorayda, a mother of a transgender child who opted for homeschooling until the controversy dies down.

According to a recent study, the transgender community makes up only 1 percent of the population. In a survey done as part of this study, 70 percent of transgender minors indicated having been victims of harassment at some point in their lives. 

The transgender bathroom debate is happening amidst the Presidential race, with Democrats in support of the initiative and Republicans coming out against it. In her most recent statement on the topic, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the following to the transgender community: “We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”

The argument posited by Republicans in opposing the initiative is that it would leave women using the restroom unprotected against men with ill intentions, while Democrats argue in defense of the human rights of the transgender community. The issue, however, still has not reached a definitive decision nationwide.

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