By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
On Feb. 22, President Donald Trump rescinded protections that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that best fit with their gender identity. Several civil rights officers from the Justice Department and Education Department invalidated former President Barrack Obama’s idea that nondiscriminatory laws were the basis for freedom of bathroom choice in schools.
The Obama administrations stated that all public schools were to follow that line of action. However, President Trump’s mandate said the issue should be decided at state and local levels, leading conservative states such as Texas to ramp back transgender rights for people to use their preferred bathroom.
Texas filed “Senate Bill 6” last month, according to CNN. Dubbed the “Privacy Protection Act,” this bill would ban transgender people from using the bathroom of their identified gender in all public schools and government buildings.
According to CNN, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the bill and said that Texas is on the “right side of history” with the decision.
It is heartbreaking and embarrassing that, in 2017, a bumbling reality television star can be elected to the highest position of power in this nation – and arguably the world – but a large group of people are being banned from using the bathroom they feel most comfortable with in the name of “privacy protection.” These people must fear over a basic human function.
According to the Williams Institute, it is estimated that there are about 1.4 million adults in the United States that are transgender. Put another way, that’s approximately every single person in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Nashville combined not knowing which restroom they are allowed to use to relieve themselves in. And that estimate doesn’t even include children.
It’s ridiculous to have so much fuss and law-making over articulating what bathroom a person can and cannot use. To claim that it is for privacy’s sake is absurd. No one has a problem when a mom brings her 8-year-old son into the ladies’ room to go to the bathroom. No one blinks an eye at the dad who takes his daughter into the men’s room. Nor do people give much thought on a Friday night in South Side to the girl who uses the men’s restroom because the line at the ladies’ is too long.
So why can’t a person who identifies as a woman use the ladies’ room? She’s not going to barge into stalls as other people are using them and Instagram pictures of whoever is in there. She’s not going to attack anyone trying to do their business. Public bathrooms will remain just as private as they were before.
If someone feels more comfortable — and safer — using one bathroom over the other, then it shouldn’t even be a question that they should use that bathroom. It’s common sense.
This isn’t nuclear war that we are talking about. This isn’t international trade relations. This is a bathroom. A toilet and a sink and maybe some paper towels if everyone else didn’t use them already. President Trump should be focusing his presidential efforts on North Korea launching missiles instead of whether Jim uses the ladies’ or men’s room after a cup of coffee.
And most of these laws will directly affect children — the mandate is for public schools. Being a kid and a teenager is hard enough as it is. Growing up and trying to figure out who you are is hard enough as it is. These kids don’t need the added stress of going to the bathroom where they feel they don’t belong. Is it fair to invalidate who a child believes they are by telling them they are banned from going to the bathroom they feel safest in?
At the end of the day, a bathroom is just a bathroom. It shouldn’t be an emotional and anxiety-inducing battleground for 1.4 million people.