On Tuesday, it was reported that, in yet another blow to civil rights, President Donald Trump would roll back bathroom protections, leaving transgender students at risk. The Hill reported on Tuesday that Trump allegedly plans to rescind guidance issued by the Obama administration last May that advises public schools to allow students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The policy was not a new law, rather, it simply clarified that Title IX bans sex discrimination in education, and discriminating against transgender students is in direct defiance of the existing law.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that the Justice Department will be issuing new guidelines in regard to bathroom access, but declined to give any specifics, stating that Trump regarded it as "a states' rights issue." Historically, civil rights, particularly the the rights of students, have been a federal issue, and also kind of the main point of the Department of Education, but Trump's interpretation of the law has frequently been at odds with the prevailing theory among both experts and the general public, so this should come as little surprise. Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Tiven told NBC News that Trump's expected guidelines won't change the law, "but it's an invitation to harm the most vulnerable kids in school."
The argument for barring transgender people from bathrooms, which has been debunked time and time again, claims that "wives and daughters" are at risk of sexual assault by cisgender men disguising themselves as women in order to gain access to women's restrooms. Aside from the facts that transgender men also exist, and most girls and women never asked to be "protected" from this imaginary danger, there has never been one single case of such an assault actually being attempted. Moreover, if a person is planning to commit sexual assault, fear of being punished for the lesser crime of trespassing is not an effective deterrent.
In fact, it's transgender people who are in danger in public restrooms. According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 12 percent of transgender respondents reported being harassed in bathrooms in the year prior to the survey, one percent were physically attacked, and one percent were sexually assaulted. Again, that's just in a rolling year, not lifetime statistics. More than half said that they avoided using public restrooms entirely, and nearly a third admitted to avoiding eating and drinking so they wouldn't need to use the restroom. That's a tragic situation for anyone, and an unthinkable burden to put on an innocent child.
Even with the policy currently in place, many transgender kids still have to fight for their most basic rights. Virginia student Gavin Grimm's discrimination case against his school is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in March. Over 200 cities and town and 18 states currently have anti-discrimination legislature in place, and even the notoriously conservative Boy Scouts have come around on transgender rights, but that still leaves the majority of transgender students at risk. North Carolina's infamous bathroom bill still remains in place, and similar bills are in the works in Kentucky, as well as Texas and Washington state. While these bills would still technically be against the law if Trump overturns the Obama administration's policy, not every kid has the means or the inclination to take their school to court, and more importantly, they shouldn't have to.