Photo taken from http://transgenderlawcenter.org/archives/12496
The Situation: This week the South Dakota Senate voted 20 – 15 to pass a bill that would require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded with their sex at birth. Advocates for the bill (Republicans) have used high rhetoric to support it, saying that it would “preserve the innocence of our young people” and that “it’s about protecting the kids.” The governor, Dennis Daugaard, will probably sign it into law despite the fact that he has never met a transgender person and will refuse to meet with transgender individuals before making his decision.
The Reaction: This is blatantly discriminatory. The government doesn’t have the right to police another person’s gender, and no one has the right to make decisions about another’s chromosomes and genitals. People go to the restroom to use it, not ogle their neighbor.
Furthermore, this is a non-issue since most teenagers have no desire to flaunt their bodies to their peers. Puberty is a time of intense embarrassment for most where you are becoming accustomed to your body, its acne, its stretch marks, its fat, and its hair. Most teens that have to use a locker room keep covered or face corners, trying to avoid their peers. This applies double to transgender individuals, many of whom experience body dysmorphia and are deeply ashamed of their bodies. No one has to worry about a transgender student flashing their classmates.
There are also stalls in locker rooms and bathrooms, which means that no one will be showing genitals to anyone. Even urinals would present problems for many transgender students since without modification it is difficult to pee standing up without a penis. Adding transgender students into the mix will not result in more genitals being shown, more sexual harassment, or more sexual assaults. It will simply help teach students that people come in every shape and size and we are all free to represent ourselves in the way that makes us feel most comfortable. What will hurt students and their supposed “innocence” is the assertion that there is something wrong with them and that their bodies must be policed.
So let’s tell Governor Daugaard what we think of this discriminatory, hateful, and wasteful bill. Click here to go to his contact page and send him a strong message. A sample text is below.
I encourage you to veto the anti-transgender bathroom bill that came to you this week. It is blatantly discriminatory and will open up the state and school systems to numerous harassment and discrimination lawsuits. Governments do not have the right to police our bodies or gender expression, and passing this law will hurt some of your state’s most vulnerable populations. Veto it.