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