Laws discriminating against transgenders will not be tolerated

By Editorial Board

Prior to rewrites and amendments, the recent religious freedom laws enacted in Indiana and Arkansas posed a real threat to the LGBTQ community. The legislation essentially legalized discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs. Though the appropriate changes were made following intense backlash, the fight for equality and human rights continues as more than six states move forward with bills that discriminate against the transgender community.

Bills being circulated in state legislatures such as Texas and Florida would restrict individuals to using the restroom of their biological sex rather than their gender identity—essentially forcing transgender people into restrooms where they do not feel safe or comfortable. 

Some of the bills are designated for educational environments such as elementary schools, but others include any public space that is divided by sex (such as locker rooms and bathrooms). Certain bills—such as those in South Carolina and Connecticut—go as far as allowing insurance companies to deny services to transgender people.

Society has made progress toward treating LGBTQ individuals as equals, but regressive politics popping up across the country only reinforce the need to support and protect the human rights many are still being denied. 

The bigots proposing and writing these bills do not realize or care about the dangerous effects these laws may have on transgender individuals. Proponents of the bills argue that, at least in an elementary school, students are too young to comprehend anything as “complicated” or “confusing” as gender identity. Arguments are also made that it is better to have students use the bathrooms of the sex they were born with for the safety and benefit of all children. 

This line of thinking is inherently flawed and incredibly misguided, though. 

Transgender individuals are far more likely than cisgender individuals—those who identify with the sex they were born with—to be bullied and victimized in bathrooms. The “threats” that transgenders supposedly pose to others is simply another petty and absurd argument for legislation that oppresses the expression of gender identity.  

Education that is all-inclusive, in-depth and free from the typical gender binaries that are imposed upon children from a young age would help those who think gender identity is complicated or confusing better comprehend and accept their fellow humans. Allowing students to understand and explore the possibilities of gender identity at a young age better equips them for the ever-changing world.

Rather than moving forward with these grossly discriminatory bills, states should follow in the footsteps of California’s School Success and Opportunity act. The law is the exact opposite of what has been coined “bathroom bully” legislature. The law allows students to not only use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, but also the sports teams.

It is the threat of ignorant religious and political holdouts that keep transgender people from being able to express themselves fully, even if that expression is as simple as what bathroom they use. And it is these ignorant individuals who keep the U.S. from evolving into a society that is able to offer equality to all of its citizens, regardless of their race, gender, color, religion and so on. 

It is one thing to cling to the comfort of what the world used to be because change is frightening and often difficult to accept, but when the need to stick to tradition takes away an individual’s humanity, it cannot and should not be tolerated.