Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 7:47 am
March 9, 2013

Who's in line for the girl's bathroom?

by Mimi Verdonk, Online Sports Editor
Editor's Note: Article update 1:15 p.m. on Mar. 11. Correction: Last paragraph clarified to fit author's original intent.

Like many young girls, Coy Mathis enjoys wearing dresses and is a fan of Dora the Explorer. As a first grader at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, Colo., Mathis is treated no differently than any other female student, except for one thing: she can't use the girls' bathroom.

Six-year old Coy Mathis began to identify as a girl at age four. Now her school won't let her use the female restroom. Courtesy of LGBT Weekly
Six-year old Coy Mathis began to identify as a girl at age four. Now her school won't let her use the female restroom.
Born with male genitals, Mathis began to self-identify as a female at the age of four. Two years later, both her passport and state-issued identification recognize her as a female. Her teachers and classmates refer to her as "she." But in December of 2012 the divide between the gender Mathis sees herself and how she is viewed by the outside world widened. Administration at her Colorado Elementary School banned her from using the girls' restroom. Stemming from the incident, her parents have since removed her and her siblings from the school and are taking the issue to Colorado Civil Rights Division. Though her parents are outraged by the notion that their daughter would need to use a gender neutral bathroom in the nurse's office, the school's request doesn't seem completely unreasonable.

In first grade, and for much of childhood, gender tends to be indistinguishable. Boys wear dresses, girls have bowl cuts, and everyone is happy sharing coloring books and eating Lunchables. Mathis' situation, however, is different from the average childhood dress-up games because she identifies permanently with a gender different than her body. It is obvious to me that the boys' bathroom is not the place for Mathis. But I don't think that the girls' restroom is either.

On Feb. 26, a state senate committee began discussion of an anti-transgender discrimination bill, which has the capability to prevent Mathis' situation from happening in Maryland. The bill, introduced by Senators Jamie Raskin and Rich Madalano, will prevent discrimination against transgender Marylanders in public accommodation, housing and employment. Though I support the bill wholeheartedly when it comes to equal pay and opportunity for those who are members of the transgender community, I don't think this ban on discrimination should extend to the bathroom.

Although it is easy to argue that privacy exists for both Mathis and other bathroom users because of the stall setup of the girls' restroom, Mathis' presence is an infringement of the gender exclusiveness that is expected of public bathrooms. As the prevalence of openly transgender youth and adults increases, it's important for there to be more unisex bathrooms, single stall options where gender ceases to matter and everyone is accommodated. This way we avoid an issue of discrimination towards our transgender peers, and discomfort among those who feel wary of breaking boundaries of traditional restroom occupants.

Though Coy Mathis is at the age where boys still accompany their mothers to the bathroom without a problem, the reality is that a time will come where Mathis will not be able to use the girls' bathroom without questioning glares or harassment. Though I aspire to live in a world free of discrimination and hatred, we aren't there yet. While a transgender person feels they have been placed in the wrong body, and thus consider themselves the gender opposite of the one they were born into, society doesn't always perceive them this way. A person with typically male traits, not having undergone the process of sex reassignment surgery, may cause both confusion and discomfort for a female sharing the restroom with them. In a society where bigotry is unfortunately inevitable, gender neutral bathrooms seem to be the best option for everyone to avoid discrimination against anyone.

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  • Laura Matthews (View Email) on March 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM
    It is disheartening to see how much ignorance there still is on matters of gender identity. You whole "gender exclusiveness" amounts to an argument for "separate but equal" - never mind that one is recognized legally as their self-identified gender, you would wish there would always be "separate but equal facilities" for people you presume might have different genitalia than you expect (which actually won't be the case for folks old enough to have had surgery), even though it would never occur to anyone to have to "check" everyone's genitalia as a pre-requisite for using the appropriate restrooms. And please don't forget there are actually many non-transgender people who could be mistaken for trans based on outer appearances. What do you suggest next, panty checks at all restrooms and gym locker rooms?
    • Jenny Saintonge (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 3:01 PM
      Spot on analysis Laura. We must also point out to those ignorant of our needs that we do not stand when we use the bathroom if you are a male to female Gender Dysphoric Person. As females we always sit. It is so ignorant for those who have never spent a day in our lives to truly understand the pains we suffer. If a writer who is reporting on a story still reports based on their opinion rather than on facts based on oh I don't know maybe a Medical Doctor or a Psychologist or Psychiatrist who specialize in the field of Transgender People then they show their ignorance. Maybe we should leave the discussion of what is best for the child up to those qualified to comment on the needs of those who are gender dysphoric.
  • Former Blazer on March 9, 2013 at 6:01 PM
    What an upsetting and uneducated report -- far from what I expected from a member of a community that's supposed to be as progressive as Blair's. Shouldn't we focus on changing society's perceptions rather than complying with their incredibly backwards views? Imagine the current state of our country if we had never protested against what "society deem[ed]" appropriate.
  • Disappointed on March 9, 2013 at 10:43 PM
    Somehow I expected more from a representative of the Blair community, but I guess I set the bar too high. Give the girl a break - she's six! She's confident in her gender identity and that's all that should matter. Behind bathroom stalls, nobody will be able to tell that she's biologically male anyway, and it's everyone else's fault for feeling uncomfortable over her self-confidence.
  • dalmax (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM
    Lady - It's (almost) this simple: It is not gender reassignment surgery, or the presence or lack of a penis, that defines us; speaking only of male-to-female transsexuals, let me say that it is learning to re-socialize, acceptance from loved ones, and a non-bigoted attitude that most define the successful transition of a transgender person. And for Goodness sake, the kid's only SIX!
  • You Liberals Need to Stop Being Easily Offended an on March 10, 2013 at 1:10 PM
    As a parent of a two 6 year olds and a high school student, I applaud Verdonk for this article.

    How do the other girls feel about having a person in their bathroom that has a penis? How do you think those girls' parents would feel to have THEIR OWN child in a bathroom alongside a he-she who is using the bathroom standing up? At the same time, how would the boys feel to have a girl who looks different in their bathroom?

    The kid should just use the bathroom at a time where she isn't disrupting others next to her, or be able to use the private bathrooms used by teachers.

    The fact of the matter is that this issue is not ONE SIDED. It is NOT ONLY about the girl-boy kid, you have to take a look at how everyone feels, because they too are part of the environment and are also being affected.

    The kid shouldn't just be able to use any bathroom she wants, because after all, kids are kids. They are confused at who they really are and its perfectly NORMAL for a kid to be confused. But there is no reason why there should be forced anthropological factors that cause the kid to become even more engulfed in his/her confusion.

    Also, the writer of this article is doing a perfectly great job demonstrating a side that would not be taken by most of the young kids at Blair who have live inside a liberal bubble and has not recognized the overarching societal problems with the issues they take.

    And this is all coming from a centrist, who voted for Obama in the last two I don't want to hear any anti-Conservative Republican BS.
    • Judithe (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 4:21 PM
      "He-she", "the girl-boy kid" ... do you hear yourself? What kind of parent are you? Is this what you are teaching your children, to differentiate and "other" those not like you? And, no, Coy is not confused; at her age, I was not confused either, except by what ignorant adults tried to tell me.
      The term "liberal bubble" doesn't become the discussion either. So, please, if you are a "Centrist", as you say you are, are you not able to find common ground, or show compassion? We are as human as you are, and bathrooms are for their intended use; nothing more, nothing less.
      • Relax on March 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM
        I teach my kids that there are very different people out there, and that a few of them are very far off the "norm." This does not mean that you must hate or discriminate against them, but at the same time you must be rational in how others may perceive them.

        The kid is being enabled by his parents as they are doing nothing but aiding in his confusion. For Christ's sake the kid is only six! It may just be a phase, but this doesn't mean society must bend over backwards to conform to his confusion.

        So this has nothing to do with being compassionate. I love everyone regardless of how they are different.
        • Anonymous on March 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM
          Although I disagree with you, the only comment I have on the comment above is that, regardless of your opinion on this matter, it's disrespectful of the child and of the transgender community to continue to refer to the child as male when she has clearly stated her gender identification. It is also disrespectful to say that she is confused, when it is evident that she is not.
    • anonymous (View Email) on March 17, 2013 at 5:36 PM
      Lady (or man), You seriously need to look at what you're saying. You're being disgustingly close-minded about the issue and needlessly offensive and cruel to the child involved.

      You bring up anthropology, and I have to ask how much you actually know about the subject. If I were to suggest you talk to a Two-spirit, Hijra, or Kathoey, would you write them off as "engulfed in his/her confusion" or would you realize that they have a place in their rich cultures?

      I find it interesting that you equate the threat of a penis in the 'girls' room' to someone "who looks different" in the 'boys' room.' Also, are you seriously unaware that it's possible for a woman (with normal female genitalia) to pee standing up?

      Finally, as a parent, I have an important question for you - what if this were your own child? Would you appreciate someone harassing your child for attempting to be true to themselves, despite opposition? Would you degrade their wishes because of "how everyone feels?" If you are seriously this closeminded, I pity your children and pray they never have to tell you that they're something other than what your shallow and anthropologically baseless preconceptions assume them to be.
    • Sophomore on March 18, 2013 at 4:22 PM
      Just would like to put this out there: studies have shown that gender identity is fully formed in the majority of people by age 6. So actually, she is not confused at all; it is completely likely that she merely had the chance to express this at an earlier age than most.
  • Solution on March 10, 2013 at 1:13 PM
    The main issue is that people are uncomfortable around a girl who has a penis.

    Understandable. Especially when you're a kid and you're next to a girl who is pissing standing up in the stall next to you.

    To make life easier, let's just do this. And it is not discrimination if they have the same rights and the same exact bathroom facilities.

    Make a third bathroom for all the gays, lesbians, trannies, and bi's to use. If they can create a whole new gender identity, then they too should be able to go inside a whole new bathroom dedicated for them.

    If you do not want to be considered as a straight man or woman, AND you align yourself as being part of the LGBT community, then go ahead and use the LGBT bathroom.

    Issue solved, and we can all move on.
    • Judithe Frances (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 4:24 PM
      Please, the term "trannies" is derogatory and hateful; please, please refrain from using it. We are transsexuals or transgender; do not "other" us.
      • Quit with the Sensitivity on March 11, 2013 at 3:59 PM
        I never meant the word to be taken as derogatory, nor have I ever heard from anyone, including my co-worker who is a tranny, that the word is derogatory. You are doing nothing but celebrating your own victimization.
        • Anonymous on March 12, 2013 at 1:26 PM
          Again, although I disagree with you, I'm not interested in arguing--there are just a couple points here that need clarification.

          First, the only 'whole new gender identity' would be in the case of those who don't identify as male or female. In that case, if an androgynous person preferred to use a unisex bathroom, that would be a separate issue. Sexuality and gender are different things: anyone who is not transsexual or androgynous still identifies with their gender, and would therefore use that bathroom. I resent the implication that because I'm gay, I wouldn't use the girls' bathroom. "

          Secondly, the issue with 'separate but equal' in this case is not that they wouldn't be equal, but that they shouldn't have to be separate. Even if the facilities are the same, there is still a distinction where there doesn't need to be if the only genders involved are male and female. Again, sexuality and gender do not necessarily correspond, and an 'LGBT bathroom' would only--again, speaking as someone who identifies as LGBT and with my biological gender--make me uncomfortable. It would also heighten the prevalence of something that already happens: people confronting others about which bathroom they're 'supposed' to be in. Androgynous people (or people who just look androgynous) often face issues in the bathroom when other people tell them where they're 'supposed' to be. Why can't we let people make these decisions for themselves?

          Thirdly, if someone--particularly someone who belongs to the group you're describing--tells you that a word you're using to describe that group is offensive, take them at their word. Even if you hadn't heard before that the word was offensive, you are now being told that someone finds it offensive, and the courteous thing to do is refrain from using it. Also, one doesn't 'celebrate' victimization; one seeks to prevent or remedy it, and that is what they're doing by telling you that it's offensive.
    • another anonymous person on March 18, 2013 at 4:18 PM
      To piggyback off of the other anon, this is sort of an issue of separate but equal. How do you think the white people back in the day (I'm white so don't take this as me being overly sensitive or something) felt about being forced to have their schools integrated? Probably just as violated as people who are uncomfortable around a girl who has a penis. Integration has proved itself to be a great idea and once the initial resistance to it died down, pretty darn good in practice. Thus, using your idea of a bathroom other than girls vs. boys, except changing it so that all bathrooms would be unisex with the closed off stalls (if guys are really hung up on maintaining their right to urinals, then the stalls could have both or there could be alternating stalls of toilets and urinals), with the usual bathroom amenities of sinks, soap, paper towels/hand dryers, and a trashcan if needed. Problem solved (hopefully).
  • Cristan (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 2:50 PM
    [Although it is easy to argue that privacy exists for both Mathis and other bathroom users because of the stall setup of the girls' restroom, Mathis' presence is an infringement of the gender exclusiveness that is expected of public bathrooms.]

    The arguments the author used at the end are the same arguments white people made about black people decades ago.

    If a person of color goes into a restroom and a white person feels uncomfortable or unsafe, who's the one with the issue? Who's being unreasonable?

    If a trans person goes into a restroom and a cisgender person feels uncomfortable or unsafe, who's the one with the issue? Who's being unreasonable?

    Did your answers change? Think long and hard about the "logic" you're appealing to.

    Lastly, in what way does gender equality nullify laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Please explain that to me.
    • So... on March 10, 2013 at 6:28 PM
      You can't have it both ways. If you identify yourself as a transgender yet you want to use the woman's bathroom, then YOU think long and hard about who is the one with the issue.

      If they all want to be seen by their gender identity, then they should abide by that and use a third bathroom.

      However, much of the transgender community still feels constrained by a society that places strong emphasis on gender binary and discriminates against those who refuse to conform. As people living their lives as the opposite sex and more comfortable mixing and crossing gender roles, some day-to-day experiences that some of us might consider normal could be very discomforting. For example, using a restroom which is generally segregated by gender can be very confusing for the transgendered. Therefore, in order to prevent discriminatory acts against transgendered people, it would be proactive for states to take up the responsibility of providing a third gender option in the design of public restrooms.

  • Alison Demzon (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 3:09 PM
    There are two problems with this whole line of logic. In 2008, Senate Bill 08-200 was signed in as law modifying Colorado Statutes on discrimination. The two changed relevant here are 24-34-401 and 24-34-601. 24-24-401 adds and defines sexual orientation to the list of definitions of discrimination stating "a person's orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or an employer's perception thereof." C.R.S. 24-34-601 lays out discrimination in places of public accommodation excluding only building expressly for religious purposes, and expressly including "educational institution." 24-34-601(2) states that " It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry," and goes on to list "full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations" as things that should not be limited.
    The other part that removes any argument would be the crime statistics, that were cited recently in Canadian Parliament as well. There are four states that have this same law in effect. The amount of times that it has been cited to attempt to excuse criminal activity Here in Colorado, and in Iowa, California, and Washington totals zero; it has never happened.
    These two facts should lead any logical person to the reality of the situation: transgender people are not the problem, the bigots are what need to be stopped.
    • Sophomore on March 18, 2013 at 4:29 PM
      thank you.
  • Nualaan (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 3:20 PM
    One should educate themselves on a topic before presenting an article on the subject.

    Transsexual folks KNOW their genitalia are not congruent with the gender they KNOW themselves to be.

    Someone transitioning as young as Coy, will have the option of puberty blockers before puberty begins, then access to HRT, and then at (18 in the USA, 16 in some other countries), will have access to GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery).

    Coy will NEVER have a time come when she will "not be able to use the girls' bathroom without questioning glares or harassment". Her body will develop as female along with her cis peers.

    With the breakthroughs being made in science, medicine, genetics, stem cell research, psychiatry, and other fields, it is entirely possible that a trans woman will be able to have ovaries, a uterus, and carry a child to term within Coy's lifetime.

    I wonder if the author of the article has considered how a burly, bearded, muscular, trans man with a deep voice is going to fare in the women's bathrooms?

    Trans women are not men who "think" they are women. They are women with female brains, and other female characteristics, who KNOW they are female/women and suffer from a genital birth defect brought on by various events in utero.

    We know now that the "XX" and "XY" chromosomes are not the only combination, that they are not the sole determinate of sex, that there have been functional "XX" men and "XY" women, and that while rare, it is possible to change one's DNA.

    Separate bathrooms for trans folks is not the solution, education is the solution.

    My 2¢, Your mileage may vary.
  • Sephie (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 3:38 PM
    @The author: Would I be correct in assuming that you want individuals like using girls restrooms while you would force individuals like to use guys restrooms?

    Furthermore are you assuming that elementary school children are inclined to engage in sexual activity? This was not the case in my experience. Furthermore you are assuming that a trans person who in general tend to dislike the genitals they were born with will use those genitals in an inappropriate manner.
  • Debby (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 4:45 PM
    I wonder how the author feels about sharing a bathroom with someone who is a different color or nationality than she is? How about with someone disabled? Since that might cause her "confusion and discomfort" maybe they should be banned also. We certainly wouldn't want to allow people to pee or poop (THAT is what we are talking about here) if it might cause someone any discomfort, would we?

  • Emily on March 10, 2013 at 5:59 PM
    It is not the fault of the individual if, in your opinion, society isn't ready to deal with transgendered people. We stopped segregating public facilities for different races, despite the people it made "uncomfortable." This is not a problem we should burden transgendered people with, but with the people who need to become less myopic about how they view gender instead.
  • disappointed blazer on March 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM
    i feel like everyone at blair thinks 'oh were so liberal and takoma park-y'. Well between this and the fat shaming fashion article (you literally called her a whale), sco is representing blair as a decidedly accepting place. Are you taking unpopular opinions to not seem to liberal and avoid a 'liberal media' criticism? because this isn't good journalism. it just seems mean.

    also, mimi, this is not personal, you are really smart and lovely personally, but where did this come from?
    • you're just wrong on March 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM
      this is a pretty liberal article, you just haven't read it right.. it's not mimi
  • Krista Ann (View Email) on March 10, 2013 at 8:28 PM
    Besides causing this young girl to suffer and cause her to internalize this hate, she doesn't have a clue what is going on, she is too young and this isn't a game to her. Its who she is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! these supposed adults making these decisions, and bring attention onto this poor girl is going to cause a great deal more harm than her using the girls bathroom, in a private stall. OMG people wake up !!!
    • correction on March 11, 2013 at 4:04 PM
      young boy**
      • Zoe Brain (View Email) on March 12, 2013 at 2:03 AM
        No, young girl. Some are apparently confused over this, just because of her superficial appearance at birth. Maybe this might aid understanding. A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70. Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones or this: Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041 The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder. Little girls with unusual genitalia have been using the girls rooms throughout history. That this isn't something new and scary. 1 in 500 women - meaning 1 in 500 schoolgirls - have CAH - Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. CAH causes masculinisation of genitalia. Sometimes almost indetectable, sometimes into a full phallus. There have been and will always be thousands of schoolgirls with masculinised genitalia in the US school system at any one time. There always have been. In more old-fashioned days, a fuss wasn't made over this. But now the issue with Trans kids - a different issue but also involving girls with masculinised genitalia - has been politicised by what can only be described as a hysterical mob, it's now time to bring this fact to the attention of residents of Colorado.
  • Anonymous on March 12, 2013 at 1:36 PM
    Purely neutral: this piece should be marked as 'opinion,' not news. The author expresses an opinion (see multiple uses of the phrase "I don't think"), therefore, it is not hard facts. Please categorize this accordingly.
    • anonymous on March 12, 2013 at 2:08 PM
      obviously you don't know what a blog is. they can include opinion.
      • Anonymous the First on March 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM
        Yes, but if this is a blog written solely by the author, and meant to express an opinion, that should be marked clearly. This is categorized under 'news blog', which I took to mean as a blog that posted news articles.
        • anonymous on March 13, 2013 at 8:12 AM
          I mean the News Blog section does fall under the Opinions tab on the site...
  • C'Mon Man on March 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM
    Y'all commenters gotta stop going after Mimi like this. She isn't transgender, and just like anyone else, it's hard to grasp all the details of an issue without being directly affected by it. Verdonk did as well on an article about a complex issue such as this as one could reasonable expect. Also, this is an opinion. Mimi is presenting her opinion, and just because you are able to present information going against, that does not invalidate her opinion. Opinions always have two sides and they always will.
    • fallen2deep on March 15, 2013 at 7:06 PM
      I DEFINITELY agree with you on that one.
      • Civil Rights on March 17, 2013 at 10:54 PM
        Civil rights are not called civilmaybesififeelcomfortablewithit . An opinion can have two sides to it with one being obviously wrong. Such as gravity is a theory, and you can believe in it or not, or intermarriage.
  • Blair Gay-Straight Alliance President on March 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM
    As both a member of the school newspaper and a member of the LGBTQ community, I have to say that this article is disheartening from both points of view. However, I do have to say that the ineptitude of the writer-- and the fact that her opinion here is based on misconceptions instead of facts-- is a narration not of her personal vindication towards members of the LGBTQ community (which is not present), but a narration of how little LGBTQ education is emphasized at Blair and, judging by the comments section, outside of Blair, too.

    Blair is, by most definitions, an LGBTQ-friendly school. To students, the diversity of our population provides, if not overall acceptance of LGBTQ students, then at the very least tolerance. Many people would like to say this about their schools, too, but the discrepancies, such as Coy, are what students, staff, and parents (not just the parents of the affected students) need to pay more attention to. The discrepancies are what we have events like Day of Silence, No-Name Calling Week, and Transgender Awareness Week for. There have been far too many students, like Coy, who feel so pressured by their environment that they see no reason to live in it anymore, and a simple shift in how schools, workplaces, and communities perceive and apply LGBTQ education could drastically change the statistics.

    Not only do we need to pay attention to these discrepancies, we need to modify our behavior to prevent them from happening elsewhere. Most Blazers assume the diverse environment makes it acceptable to disregard people who don’t fit their type or style, and would be surprised to know that, in fact, there are Blazers just like them who struggle with Coy’s same problem—not being allowed to use the restroom associated with their gender identity.

    The reason why we have a shortage in LGBTQ education is because people are, in many cases, afraid to talk about it in schools, where it is most needed, and if they aren't afraid to talk about it, they don't know that it's acceptable (and beneficial) to talk about it. One of the few times when Blair gives students an opportunity to sit in a classroom with people they might not necessarily have classes with, advisory (homeroom), is taken up by repetitive videos and impertinent informational sheets that meet the recycle bin within seconds.

    If there were even ONE 45-minute assembly during Advisory that provided students with the opportunity to watch one of the MANY trans education videos on the internet, then more students, Verdonk included, would understand why the language and assessments in her article are considered hurtful. Most people, I bet, would even form their future behavior around it, and change how they think of trans individuals.

    In the GSA, we talk a lot about this kind of miscommunication and lack of discussion in greater communities. At this stage and from this angle, it isn't even ignorance, it is unawareness. It is every person over a certain age who assume that "transsexual" is still the only filler for the term "trans" who, in actuality, had not intended to offend anyone. It is people who still say, "That's so gay" who, in actuality, don't know what else to say.
    Verdonk states clearly her (opinion) article that she longs to live in a world free of discrimination and hatred, but there's more to it than just longing. A world free of discrimination and hatred acknowledges that there has been mistreatment and inequality before, and is educated on how to eliminate it and avoid it in the future.

    I agree with a previous commenter—Verdonk isn’t transgender, and “just like anyone else, it's hard to grasp all the details of an issue without being directly affected by it.” However, when an issue is as prevalent as transphobia, the evidence of which ranges from articles like this to organized hate groups, it should become everyone’s issue, because it does affect everyone. Verdonk is, in some comments, being victimized for writing an opinion piece when she hasn’t had the opportunity to see all sides of the issue. So please don't blame one student for not knowing what no one decided to make important enough to educate every student about. If you look at it objectively, it isn't all her fault.
  • Former SCO'er on March 18, 2013 at 8:54 AM
    SCO, I am very disappointed by the amount of insensitivity you showed with this article, both in terms of content and in terms of the comment moderation. Last I checked, Blair was a high school the prides itself on being progressive. This is not how you do so.
  • Orzo (View Email) on March 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM
    I consider this a very well-written and fair article and was shocked to see the vitrol that is being aimed at it (as well as at the author, personally, which is shameful). The author takes a very well-reasoned and carefully thought out position, while making it extremely clear that she supports transgender (fun fact: you have to add that to your phone's dictionary) rights. For people to compare separate bathrooms for men and women to segration based on race is way out of line, completely inaccurate, and disrespectful to the legacy of the civil rights movement. Moreover, the author is not, as some of you have scathingly suggested, advocating for "separate but equal" bathrooms. She's advocating for single bathrooms that ANYONE can use. That could not be farther away from having a water fountain marked "whites only." The author is advocating for MORE restrooms that are accessible to anyone in order to be MORE accommodating of ALL individuals. And yet she is being attacked as a modern day George Wallace. Calm down and back off. Get some perspective. Mimi, again, a lovely, well-written article and I hope you won't allow yourself to be intimidated by the extreme elements in society that call the internet comments sections home.
    • Just Curious on March 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM
      Thanks there for stating that she's correct without saying why. She makes comments that repeatedly imply Coy to be male despite a clearly stated preference. She gives me no reason why I should care if people are uncomfortable that there is a Transgirl in the bathroom. You don't go to the bathroom to see other people's genitals. Anyone who is considered female is allowed in, no matter how uncomfortable their presence may make 'traditional bathroom goers', from the most butch of hardcore lesbians all the way to students like Mimi. You don't see them naked, so your discomfort is your own problem and really irrelevant. I don't like sharing the bathroom with girls who sit in front of the mirror and gossip loudly, but I don't get to toss them out. Your discomfort is your own issue. We live in a society that allows a legal change of sex, so it goes to follow that anyone following that pathway should be granted access to bathrooms for the sex they identify as and will become legally a part of. Oh, and yeah, it's offensive to the civil rights movement? Just like references to gay rights, I suppose, but I've never understood why that is, because I would think that everyone deserves to be treated equally no matter the circumstances of their birth, but silly me I guess only racial differences are important enough to warrant that historical marker.

      If you have a good reason that I should care, please, by all means tell me, but you are just insisting that she is right and our criticism wrong without feeling any need to back up your words.
      • Orzo (View Email) on March 18, 2013 at 10:51 PM
        The author is advocating for a solution in which "everyone is accommodated." I don't understand how that could possibly be such a problematic suggestion, one that has generated an inordinate number of hateful and derisive replies. Is there an alternative that you prefer? Perhaps a solution that only accommodates some people? If you can accommodate everyone, why on Earth wouldn't you?

        In response to your claim that "She makes comments that repeatedly imply Coy to be male despite a clearly stated preference," I would ask you where she does so. She consistently refers to Coy as "she," and also refers to her as her "parents' daughter." How could Mimi possibly make it any clearer that Coy identifies as a girl?

        I would also suggest that you are mistaken in your claim that "you don't see them naked." That is, frankly, entirely inconsistent with my own experiences (though I recognize that, while unlikely, it may be the case that my own experience has been completely different than that of everyone else). There are plenty of first graders who still pull their pants down all the way to use the restroom (when using the urinal, I mean. It would be quite messy if they didn't otherwise). People change in the restroom all the time--as they should: it is the place to do so.

        I indeed find the repeated affectations of a Civil Rights-type struggle to be arrogant and disrespectful. Young black men were not lynched by supportive, well-intentioned white men who just wanted to find a solution that was best for everyone. The KKK does not "aspire to live in a world free of discrimination and hatred," as the author does. Comments comparing the ideas in this article to those held by ardent racists is way out of line. It's not even close, period. To suggest otherwise is to simultaneously slander the author of this article and marginalize the struggle of the civil rights movement. That said, I think it is important to clarify: I am NOT insinuating that some of the challenges faced by the transgender community are not comparable to those faced by any other persecuted minority; I'm simply asserting that THIS is not one of them. It's important to moderate your outrage and not conflate ANY perceived slight against the transgender community with EVERY offense ever rendered unto it. You're crying "murder!" because someone inadvertently stepped on your foot.

        I didn't say anything about gay rights; I honestly have no clue why you brought it up.

        Furthermore, the whole point of the civil rights movement--since you seem so determined to draw that comparison--was that people were being discriminated against UNFAIRLY. It is obviously wrong to say, for example, that black people are worse than white people at math, by virtue of being black. Accordingly, it would be wrong to favor a white person over a black person for an accounting job on the basis of race because there is no actual racially-based difference in their ability to perform the job. However, male and female genitalia DO pee differently, so it makes sense to provide likewise different facilities for that purpose. It's not bigoted to say that "you must be this tall to ride this ride" or "you must be this old to drive a car" or to be extra diligent about checking Jewish men for Crohn's disease when they are 4-5 times more likely to test positive for it (source: Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America).

        Finally, while I wholeheartedly believe that, as people, transgender individuals are inherently entitled to the same civil rights and human rights as everyone else. However, there is no reason that transgender people--again, or any particular group of people--ought to be accorded SUPER-human rights. You do NOT have the unequivocal right to make other people uncomfortable. No one does. This article evidently makes you uncomfortable, why isn't that "your own problem?" It's because you're a person, with feelings, and you and your feelings deserve a certain amount of respect and consideration. I find it bizarre that you would be so dismissive of the feelings of others given that you are a staunch advocate for a historically persecuted minority.
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