The New Frontier of Civil Rights

Transgender equality has arguably become the most prominent civil rights issue facing America today. The issue has become increasingly magnified following North Carolina’s passing of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. The law, which bans individuals from using a restroom that does not correspond with their biological sex, received both immediate support and backlash across the nation. President Obama struck back at the recent trend of transgender discrimination in a letter addressed to public schools across the country. The administration emphasized that gender identity, rather than biological sex, should be the determining factor for which bathroom students are allowed to access.

Across the country, there are millions of people who are rejoicing in the support that the transgender community is receiving from President Obama. Yet there are millions of others who remain uncomfortable with the idea of an individual of one biological sex entering the restroom of the opposite biological sex. The Obama directive can be seen by some as an overreach of the national government. Opponents may see the move as an authoritarian response to what could be viewed as a states issue. However, if you see transgender rights as a fundamental civil rights, then it is the government’s responsibility to set the appropriate standards.

America understands the struggle for equality and protection of rights like no other nation. It has become increasingly clear that transgender rights are civil rights and will become the next chapter in America’s long string of victories for equality. Obama’s directive is the appropriate foot-hold for the journey towards transgender equality. High school students, including those in Mamaroneck High School, should have the freedom to decide for themselves which restroom is appropriate for them based on their gender identity. While creating a third and separate gender neutral bathroom may sound like an adequate solution, the reality is that it still denies transgender individuals of the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Similarly, shifting to all co-ed bathrooms would eliminate the privacy of separate bathrooms and is quite simply not something that America is ready for. By allowing individuals of the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Similarly, shifting to all co-ed bathrooms would eliminate the privacy of separate bathrooms and is quite simply not something that America is ready for. By allowing transgender individuals to select the bathroom that matches their gender identity, high schools are able to achieve the goal of inclusivity and equal protection of rights for all sexual orientations.

Many opponents of the Obama directive fear the potential for sexual assault of women and young girls by biological males using the women’s restroom. However, these fears have been proven to be baseless. People who are consciously looking to sexual assault somebody would be able to do it regardless of what bathroom they are legally allowed to enter; assault is a crime no matter which bathroom it is done in. Furthermore, it is actually transgender individuals who often live in fear of sexual assault. A study conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality revealed that nearly twothirds of transgender individuals experience sexual assault in their lifetime. While it is understandable for some people to be uncomfortable with this progressive acceptance of transgender rights, it is not acceptable to promote ignorance. Change is meant to be gradual, and people will need time to adjust to individuals using their sexual orientation to determine which bathroom they will use. However, we must eliminate the stigma of transgender individuals as sexual predators and criminals. Eliminating these misconceptions and unsupported biases is the first step towards achieving total equality for transgender individuals.

Now is the time to embrace equality and ensure civil rights for transgender individuals. High schoolers in Mamaroneck and over the entire country have the opportunity to lead the way by embracing the Obama administration’s directive. Rather than stripping individuals of their gender identity, we should strive create communities that are accepting and supportive. Transgender rights are civil rights, and there is arguably nothing more important.

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