When a school official advocates for trans kids being castrated before they’re allowed to use the gender facilities that align with their identity, you know something has gone terribly wrong. Sadly, that’s a reality in one Colorado school.
Delta County School Board member Katherine Svenson has made international headlines for transphobic comments she reportedly made during an October school board meeting.
With the school for the first time facing the issue of trans kids having access to gender segregated facilities, Svenson reportedly embarked on a crusade to make sure the Colorado school doesn’t adopt any policy similar to that which was adopted as law in California.
“I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country,” she is quoted as saying. “Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is, and I want to emphasize, and they’re actually talking about joining girls sports teams going in the girls locker rooms and bathrooms, and I just want to emphasize not in this district. Not until the plumbing’s changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here.”
Not all trans people require genital change surgery. To suggest that they are not properly one gender or another unless they undergo said surgeries profoundly misunderstands gender and, indeed, child welfare.
In particular, Svenson appears ignorant of the choices and difficult decisions young trans people face. Some will know they desire so-called full gender change surgery very early on, while for others treatment may center around beginning hormone therapy and living as the gender they align with for a number of years prior to making any decisions about particular surgeries.
Furthermore, the subject of castration is one that for trans people is particularly offensive. Many countries have in the past and still today require trans people to undergo medical castration and sterilization before they can be classed as the sex they are transitioning to, a mandate that has been widely condemned by major human rights bodies as unlawful and against basic human dignities and freedoms.
Nevertheless, Svenson stands by her comments. In follow up remarks to NewsChannel 5, Svenson said:
“I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls, I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in girls locker-room.”
Fortunately, Delta County assistant superintendent Kurt Clay has rejected Svenson’s comments. He also highlighted that the school adopted a blanket nondiscrimination policy in June. The school’s nondiscrimination policy specifically outlines sexual orientation and sex but not gender identity.
Interestingly, it has since emerged that Svenson founded an anti-gay ministry known as TellASIA and that the material Svenson cited during her tirade came from the Education Reporter, a newsletter given to members of the Eagle Forum, an anti-LGBT organization founded by the notorious Phyllis Schlafly.
In this light, it becomes apparent that the media has done a great disservice in treating this as an isolated incident of transphobia and not putting it into the context of a national push back against trans rights in our schools.
Regular readers will remember that just last month a self-styled Christian ethos legal firm took it upon itself to launch a smear campaign against a trans teenager from Colorado after they discovered she was being allowed to use the facilities that comport with her gender. The legal group alleged that she had been harassing female students. It then clarified that it believed her merely using the facilities constituted harassment. So distraught was the teenager in this case that she had to be put on suicide watch.
This also comes at a time when signatures are being counted to put on the 2014 ballot a repeal of California’s landmark trans student rights law. The repeal has even been backed by the nation’s most high profile anti-gay marriage group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), signalling that with anti-LGBT groups losing their fight against gay marriage they are turning their attention toward opposing other rights measures like trans rights.
Unfortunately, this new battle seems to put trans kids on the front lines — something that Svenson and other so-called “concerned” citizens don’t appear to care about.
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