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Standing Together: Why it’s so Important to Protect Trans Youth

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Pins and buttons from the Cal Poly Pride Center show support for transgender rights.

The light blue, pink and white stripes of the transgender flag and the hashtag #ProtectTransKids flooded several Twitter feeds on February 22, 2017.

Less than a year ago, in May of 2016, the Obama Administration issued guidance that allowed transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity.  This was done after a thorough investigation of Title IX, the right that eliminates sex-based discrimination in education.

According to a CNN article, after reviewing Title IX, the Justice and Education Departments clarified that no public school may discriminate a student based on their sex or transgender status.

They explained that the guidance “makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.”

However, on February 22, the Trump administration issued a letter that revokes the guidance.  The Justice and Education Departments stated that the use of restrooms by transgender students is a matter that should be left to the state governments instead of the federal government.

According to The Huffington Post, the percentage of U.S. teens who identify as transgender is approximately 1.5 percent.  Denying rights to this already extremely marginalized group does nothing but add to the laundry list of issues that occur on a daily basis.

Trans Student Educational Resources, an organization aimed at creating a more inclusive education experience for trans youth, shares the following statistics about the transgender community:

  • 80 percent = amount of  transgender students who feel unsafe expressing their gender at school
  • 58.7 percent = the amount of gender non-conforming people who have faced verbal harassment in the past year
  • 41 percent = amount of transgender people who have attempted suicide 

UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute research focused on verbal harassment, physical assault or being denied entry to facilities faced by transgender and gender non-conforming people in public restrooms.  Out of the respondents, 70 percent reported having experience with at least one of these problems.

Such alarming statistics coupled with the Trump Administration’s actions have yielded large amounts of support from several organizations, media outlets, and celebrities.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, transgender model Carmen Carrera, who is well-known for addressing the transphobic slurs she faced during her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race, spoke out against the recent actions of the administration.

“What’s happening right now is unfair. It sends a message to kids that we need to be segregated and that certain people shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else,” says Carrera.  “We need to protect and support these kids.”

Many others have taken to Twitter and social media to stand in solidarity with the trans community.

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In an interview, Pride Center Coordinator at Cal Poly Charley Newel offers words of support, focusing on important ways to make the transgender community feel safe and valued.

If you or a loved one are a transgender person in need of support, visit the following sites:

 

 

 

 

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