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Transgender Child Wins Civil Rights Case

Transgender Child Wins Civil Rights Case

Sometimes it is necessary to take a critical step back and survey how much things have changed, within a social and community realm, and really appreciate the human desire for equality and tolerance. The majority of the time, when surveying our ever changing landscape, we bemoan how much things have shifted from all that is good and constant toward something far less desirable, and unpredictable. But sometimes things change for the better and offer proof that sometimes the good is beating the bad.

Case in point: Coy Mathis, a six-year-old transgender girl (meaning she was born a boy but identifies as a girl) has won, after a tense battle, the right to use the girls’ restroom at her public school in Fountain, Colorado. The Colorado Civil Rights Division came to a decision over the weekend that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District created an unnecessarily hostile situation for Coy Mathis by not allowing her to use the girls’ bathroom.

Coy had been clearly identified as female at the school and using the girls’ bathroom without incident for a year before her parents were called in for a meeting with the principal and asked Coy to start using the boys’ bathroom or a staff restroom. Her parents objected, but could not sway the administration. They withdrew Coy (along with her siblings) from the school but continued to fight for transgender rights up until the weekend when they received the news. While Coy is now at another school that honors her desire to be fully identified as a girl, this ruling is binding and will likely send ripples throughout (and beyond) the transgender community.

As I mentioned earlier, this sort of progress would have been totally unheard of a decade earlier, as even a discussion of transgender rights within the public school system would have been laughed off the table. So it is encouraging to see, if nothing else, such discourse. This was one of those decisions that I, frankly, was surprised to read, as I have memories of being in high school and witnessing the gay-lesbian student alliance being an organization received with much reservation.

What are your thoughts on the subject of transgender equality and rights within the school system? Is this the sort of victory you would like to see more of, or do you find it to be problematic pandering to a very small niche? Should transgender identity even be a topic at this young of an age?

Photo credit: Thinkstock.com, not actually Coy Mathis

Read more: Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Family, Healthy Schools, Mental Wellness, News & Issues, Parenting at the Crossroads, Relationships, Sexual Health, Stress, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

77 comments

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3:18PM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

Wow, that's impressive and awesome.

10:42PM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

We should encourage our children to be who they are, support the development of their identity, and protect them from people who don't understand.

10:39PM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

thanks for sharing

6:39AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

Should not really matter which bathroom a six year old uses. In our homes we all have to share with same and opposite sexes. Daft that there is such a strong distinction in public places but I guess it is for the best at the end of the day? This child has identified themselves to be female gender having been born male. Goodness knows if this will change in time. She is so very young. I hated being a girl when I was little but I know now that this was because of the stereotyped clothing and expectations/behaviour of what was classed as 'female' I know now that what I actually wanted was equal opportunities and the same choices as any male. Perhaps she feels the same.

7:49PM PDT on Jul 1, 2013

ty

7:17PM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

Good on her! :)

10:04AM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

We don't know the size of this 'niche'. Exercising human rights is hardly 'pandering'!
Who cares if this child, in a year or a decade, feels differently about their gender identity. We can only act on the present info.
Quite frankly I think the children have the wisdom and I would like to see leaders of all nations be under 10 y.o. imagine that!!

2:59AM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

What a relief.

7:59AM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

Thanks ...

1:22AM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

I have to admit I wonder how a six year old can know this, when I was six I hated being a girl and was the ultimate tom boy, but no one questioned the fact that I was a girl. I'm glad the school is so forward thinking, but can his identifying himself as a girl at this age really be taken seriously? Sometimes, I think people try to put labels on things too quickly instead of letting life take its natural course. Perhaps, there should be co-ed bathrooms in elementary schools, solve that problem right there.

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