Transgender Issues: Who Are the Bullies?
Some believe transgender people’s quest for special rights has gotten out of hand. Among them is feminist Germaine Greer, who has simply had enough. The author of The Female Eunuch, a book that encouraged the feminist movement, is supportive of gay rights but has drawn a line at those who now expect the public to grant transgender people special rights and privileges.
Greer was particularly upset when a major American magazine recently gave former Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner their Woman of the Year Award. She said, “I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this. That a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman.”
Transgender activists are upset with Ms. Greer. Those even more radically progressive than her protested her right to free speech and signed a Change.org petition, shaming and scolding her for her viewpoint. They demanded that her impending honorary degree at Cardiff University be denied, and it was. (BBC, 10-25-15)
Rural Missouri Acquiesces
When administrators at Hillsboro High School, located about an hour from St. Louis, Missouri, acquiesced to the demands of a male transgender 17-year-old, over 150 students walked out of class in protest. The school chose to allow a person with male genitalia to share a locker room and bathrooms with female high school students. But the students who protested believe that young women at the school should not lose their privacy from a biological male and that the transgender person should change and shower in a separate area from females and use private bathroom facilities.
The school is calling Noah, a biologically male student who wears a long brown wig, his chosen name of “Lila,” although there’s been no change on the transgender student’s permanent record.
The school initially offered “Lila” a unisex bathroom that is large enough to serve as a dressing room. Lila wasn’t satisfied with separate facilities, private from both males and females, and insisted on being allowed to change in the female locker room. Lila claims separate facilities make “her” feel “different.”
The student walkout was Monday, August 31, following a School Board meeting the previous Thursday “that drew a large crowd — parents concerned that Lila is getting special rights at the expense of other students.”
After the student walkout was reported by the news media, a campaign to counter student objections was launched. Transgender activists started a Facebook page and social media campaign, using the title and hashtag “LiftingUpLila.” According to the Missouri Gay-Straight Alliance Network, headquartered in St. Louis, “#LiftingUpLila means:
Pushing against transphobia; giving time, money, and effort to organizations and movements that center trans people and young people; understanding that even though we live in a transphobic system now it doesn’t always have to be that way; and believing we can change it. (TransgenderLawCenter.org, 9-4-15)
The next step for activists was to hold a counter protest at the Hillsboro City Park, which a few dozen protesters attended, including people from outside of the Hillsboro community. Gay-Straight Alliance activists who started the “Lifting Up Lila” Facebook page, invited outsiders, including those from St. Louis, to join the protest.
Lila has now appeared on “The View” TV show. A lawsuit is expected to be filed because of the perceived injustices this transgender individual allegedly faced.
This is a complicated story to unravel because Noah/Lila last year identified as a gay male, and there are reports that before that he/she was dating a girl. Further developments include the unexplained resignations of three school board members. (KMOX.com, 9-10-15) Lila has recently decided to drop gym class.
Civil Rights Hammer Falls on Illinois School
The U.S. Department of Education refuses to allow Township High School District 211, the largest high school district in Illinois, to determine its own transgender policy. A transgender student at one district high school, located about an hour from downtown Chicago, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The student was assisted by the American Civil Liberties Union. The DOE sided with the student and threatened to take action against the Illinois school district.
When making its transgender policy, the school district believed that privacy curtains were the best way to protect all involved, including girls who want privacy and a transgender student who insisted on full access to the girls’ locker room. The curtains would protect the girls from exposure to the male genitalia of the transgender student, as well as provide privacy for the transgender student. But the transgender male, who feels he is a female, demanded full access to the female locker room. As in other cases, the transgender student claims separate facilities or curtain screens make the student feel “different” from the other females.
Although faced with sanctions from the federal government, the Illinois school district hopes to avoid allowing unrestricted access to its locker rooms, although that’s what is directed by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
The High School District 211 Superintendent wrote in an October newsletter to parents:
The goal of the District in this matter is to protect the privacy rights of all students when changing clothes or showering before or after physical education and after-school activities, while also providing reasonable accommodations to meet the unique needs of individual students. Our responsibility is to provide an environment conducive to learning for all its 12,000+ students.
District 211 has supported — and continues to support — transgender students and their families while always balancing the rights and concerns of all students we serve.
The Superintendent warns that “litigation and enforcement action, including the potential loss of federal education funds, may be imposed by the OCR.” But he says, “Our position is the OCR’s unilateral mandate does not consider the best interests of all District 211 students and families.”
The Heritage Foundation Daily Signal (10-23-15) points out: “Didn’t it also used to be the case that if a school district allowed a person with male anatomy to undress in front of a bunch of girls it would be considered unlawful sexual harassment?” They continue, “What about common sense? Where is the role for the local authorities, for the school district superintendent, to exercise their own judgment, in light of what they know about the community and the schools, and decide the best way to balance transgender students’ requests with other students’ rights and expectations?”