Many of you have likely read about a transgender child named Coy Mathis who lives in Colorado. Her case has been getting a great deal of press, most recently in this article in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/us/in-colorado-a-legal-dispute-over-transgender-rights.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&smid=fb-nytimes&pagewanted=1&adxnnlx=1363642218-qLO0nNFjO1pqP8FoanZBig
Coy is a transgirl (has transitioned from boy to girl) and the primary issue of a law suit filed by her parents is their desire that Coy be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at her school. The school has made available both the nurse’s bathroom as well as a gender neutral facility elsewhere in the school. Her parents, however, have “angrily” removed Coy from the school and are in the midst of filing a discrimination law suit, not to mention garnering plenty of media attention in the process. I get it. It is admirable to support your child in this situation. It can be a bitch to support your child in this situation…I know as I am doing it myself. I do not, however, happen to agree with the Mathises on this particular issue.
Not surprisingly, the bathroom discussion has come up innumerable times with Jessie and her school administrators. She, too, has been instructed to use either the nurse’s or a staff/gender neutral bathroom. Yes, she has requested (again, innumerable times) that she be allowed to use the girls’ room. It has been I, at the end of the day, who has vetoed that request. And, I might note, Jessie has not pushed back. I might even be so bold as to suggest that she is a bit relieved at having been denied.
Of course I want Jessie to be as integrated and accepted in the community as everybody else. I want her to feel comfortable and happy both socially and emotionally. I want her to pee in peace. I also know that the one (maybe two) time she uses the “special” facilities in the course of a school day is in no way impeding her success or growth. In fact, it is probably improving both.
All kids are special and different in some way (admittedly, some more than others) and while they should all be afforded the opportunity to be true to themselves (no matter how that is defined) it is simply impossible, unreasonable and a little bit insane to suggest that each be catered to for whatever their particular need may be; particularly when it is certain to have an impact of some sort or another on so many other people. Let me remind you: I say this as the parent (as rabid as the next) of a transgender child.
That’s right. I don’t want Jessie using the girls’ bathroom at school right now. I have been a girl and remember well enough that far more than quick piddles and occasional poos take place in the restroom in a given day. Any pecking order that exists in the hallways is on steroids in the bathrooms. It is an easy place to be bullied or, frankly, be a bully. My daughter has a penis and to think that such a reality will never come to bear within the confines of the bathroom is to be ignorant.
I would like to say that if I were a parent and learned that there was a transgender child in my kid’s class that I wouldn’t think twice about it…but that would be untrue. I would like to say that it is of no consequence…but it is. I would like to believe that I wouldn’t somehow, on some level, judge the family…but I probably would. And I am pretty sure that I would not want my child (who is, in this scenario, a classmate of a transgender child and not the transgender child) put in any potentially awkward situations. There, I said it.
Of course I want Jessie to be as much a part of the community and culture of the girls in the fifth grade as possible. I also want every other girl in there to be afforded the opportunity to pee in peace, too, and if that translates to Jessie having to make a once (or, again, maybe twice) daily trip to the bathroom earmarked for her use; so be it.
Let there be no misunderstanding: I appreciate where the Mathis family is coming from. I respect their desire to keep their child as whole as possible during a transitional period which is difficult at best. My disagreeing with their position does not translate to not applauding their support of their child.