On Wednesday, February 22nd, the new presidential administration withdrew and rescinded the rule that transgender students have the right to use the bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity. This decision effectively strips transgender youth of federal protection in public schools, and may ultimately encourage the transphobia that is already rampant.
Bullying can affect any student in elementary, middle or high school, but members of the LGBT community often face further abuse. 82% of transgender youth report feeling unsafe at school, and nearly half (44%) report physical abuse. Only 54% of transgender youth report their bullies to school authorities. The National Center for Transgender Equality explains that transgender youth can face further oppression from school officials who often refuse to respect their gender identity, and many punish them for expressing it instead of those who bully them. Without federal protection, many transgender students may be even more reluctant to report incidents of bullying and harassment.
Transgender students’ hesitance to report bullying is mirrored in the barriers that many transgender victims of domestic violence and sexual assault face in reporting these crimes. Any victimof sexual assault and domestic violence may be reluctant to report these crimes, for a number of reasons, such as the fear of not being believed by police or victim blaming. Transgender victims, who are at a greater risk for domestic violence and sexual assault compared to the general population, can face unique barriers because of their gender identity. Transgender victims may not seek the aid of law enforcement and human services for fear of further marginalization.
In both cases, transgender people are not only being targeted more than the general population because of their gender identity, but they are also hesitant to report these crimes to authorities and seek assistance for fear of further oppression at the hands of the very people who are meant to protect them. The withdrawal of the rule protecting transgender students’ rights serves to endanger and marginalize transgender youth.
No victim, whether of bullying, domestic violence, or sexual assault, should fear seeking support from law enforcement or human services because of who they are and how they identify. If we want to truly end gender-based violence, we must first support the rights of all human beings, including members of the LGBT community. If you would believe that the withdrawal of this rule is harmful to transgender students is harmful, click here to learn how you can get involved and take action to protect transgender youth.