Students concerned about the future of gender neutral bathrooms

[/media-credit] Daria Yaari walks into a gender neutral bathroom in the Humanities Building at SF State on Monday, March 6, 2017 (Sarahbeth Maney/Xpress).

Feelings of uncertainty and concern are prevalent among students who identify as transgender as their rights are being threatened by the Trump administration’s stance on transgender rights.

The Obama administration previously added guidance to Title IX that stated transgender students would be allowed to use the facilities associated with their gender identity, even if it was not their gender identity assigned at birth. Trump’s administration has now removed these guidelines in a statement letter.

“These guidance documents take the position that the prohibitions on discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and its implementing regulations,” according to the letter.

With removal of these guidelines, the fate of transgender students’ access to bathrooms is once again a state-by-state decision instead of a former federal regulation.

Republican Student Union Vice President Brian May explained that Trump’s administration is hoping to shift the power of government to states.

“It should be a state decision and that was the whole reason Trump revoked it,” May said. “Because it should be up to the states, not up to the federal government.”

May believes residents in San Francisco and in California are safe from Trump’s decision.

“We’re in San Francisco which is one of the biggest LGB areas in all the country throughout the world and I think that they’ll fight for their right,” May said.

Jesse-Lynn Hoppe-Keiser, an SF State student, identifies as a visible non-conforming person and is concerned about the transgender community. They hope to create visibility that humanizes the issue.

“I think my greatest concern, aside from my people, gender-nonconforming people, trans people, feminine people not being able to use facilities in peace, is this idea that human rights (and) human justice is something left up to the states and not the nation as a whole,” Hoppe-Keiser said.

“To me, it’s sounding like the United States is not really united if you’re telling us that we can’t use the bathroom as American citizens.”

Hoppe-Keiser also noted that the loss of control from the federal government in this matter will also affect younger students in K-12.

“This is affecting kids who are under the age of 18, minors, people who don’t necessarily have the wherewithal or the language to advocate for themselves on their own like a college student could,” Hoppe-Keiser said.

Looking into the future for SF State and these issues, Mary Kenny, director of news and new media at SF State, said that due to the California bill, AB 1732 signed by Gov. Brown, all public agencies are required to designate single-stall restrooms as gender-neutral, so SF State students have nothing to worry about.

“We continue to work across campus to identify additional restrooms for conversion,” said Kenny. “When the conversions are complete, the map will be updated with the new locations and with the ‘all-gender’ terminology.”

Although Hoppe-Keiser and May have opposing viewpoints regarding state and federal government roles in human rights issues, they both agree that people should have access to whichever facilities they chose, no matter their gender identity.

“If you’re a transgender, just go,” May said. “No one is stopping you — if someone does stop you, then those people are what’s wrong.”

Hoppe-Keiser echoes that people advocating against equal rights for transgender students in bathrooms are the people creating the problem.

“It only takes one person who doesn’t believe in trans rights or queer rights to create a problem in the bathroom, so it’s not really something

that anyone can control,” Hoppe-Keiser said.

 

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