My high school is currently dealing with a transgender bathroom issue. A student came out as transgender and the school board supported allowing this student to use the restroom and locker room that matched his gender identity.
Then parents found out about this student sharing the locker room with their kids and suddenly 250 people were showing up at school board meetings. The school board decided to take the parents’ opinions into account. The school plans to spend $1 million to create entirely single-stall locker rooms in the high school. Until that renovation happens, the school board voted to require students to use the restrooms and locker rooms according to their biological sex.
At the school board meeting, my wife and I showed up in support of a trans person’s right to use the bathroom and locker room based on their gender identity. Even though I was visibly shaking, surrounded by such a conservative and transphobic crowd, I spoke up, even though my voice wavered.
Here’s an excerpt of my speech:
My name is Atticus Ranck and this is my alma mater. I am a trans man. My wife, who is here, is a trans woman.
We live in a heteronormative world that tells trans people that we don’t want you in our schools, in our locker rooms, in our bathrooms. We don’t want you. This type of rhetoric leads 57 percent of trans youth to attempt suicide. Fifty-seven percent. Trans people are not trying to infiltrate gendered spaces in order to sexually harass other students, or to prey on different genders. There are very few places in this world specifically for queer people. Cisgender people, that is non-transgender people, can go anywhere in the world. Anywhere. Trans people cannot. If we must use a locker room or bathroom, we just want to change in peace. A trans person is not going to bring attention to themselves in the locker room. We want to go unnoticed.
A person’s rights should NEVER be up for debate. Nobody’s rights should ever be up for debate.
So what do we do?
The best thing to do is to allow transgender students to use the locker room and restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. If a student has a problem sharing the locker room or bathroom with a transgender student, the student with the problem can use the single-changing stalls. This sends a message that says:
- We respect, validate, and accept the trans person
- We do not accept transphobia
Do not force the trans person to use the bathroom or locker room based on their assigned sex at birth. Do not force a trans person to use a private or single-stall locker room or restroom. By singling out a trans person and saying they are not allowed to use the correct bathroom or locker room, it’s a form of othering and it says, “We don’t trust you with the general population, you don’t belong with everyone else, and your gender is invalid.”
To all the trans people who may be here tonight, I see you. You are not a predator, you are not trying to assault anyone, you are not infiltrating differently gendered spaces. You are valid. You are loved. You are worthy. You deserve to live in peace and to pursue happiness. I am a trans person who grew up right here, whose parents and siblings are still right here. And I’m here to tell you that you can be trans and be successful. You can be trans and find love.
I said earlier that 57 percent of transgender youth attempt suicide. This is true. However, that number drops to just 4 percent with the support of their family. Be the support a transgender youth needs by allowing them to use the correct bathroom and locker room. You can save a life.