Proponents of anti-trans "bathroom bills" say the laws are meant to protect the privacy of cisgendered Americans. What about my privacy?
Trans students are in danger, and the people who are threatening our safety are using false arguments about "privacy" to accomplish it. Every day, trans students across the country are forced to use alternative bathrooms, such as a nurse's or faculty restroom, because some people are uncomfortable with us. While these third-option bathrooms might seem to solve the problem, they actually separate us out from everyone else.
Some people think that using a "private" bathroom is a luxury, but if you're a transgender student, these bathrooms can worsen discrimination against us. By being forced to go to a separate facility, trans students are effectively outed in front of all of their peers and faculty. This is a "luxury" that trans students could do without.
I'm a teenage girl. When social conservatives falsely claim that their right to privacy is violated when I pee in a stall next to them, what could they possibly mean? Do they think I'm waiting to catch a glimpse of their genitals—trying to find out if they too "belong or not" in the bathroom? Do they think I'm waiting inside a bathroom to sneak up and hurt them?
If anyone did either of those things then yes, that would be a violation of privacy—whether you're trans or not. But the people who oppose transgender bathroom rights on the basis of "privacy" are, ironically, the ones who are violating the privacy of American people. These opponents to transgender equality want to violate my right to privacy, because I am a transgender girl—and to them that means I'm not a girl at all.
When I was in middle school I had to use a nurse's bathroom two floors down from my class, across an open courtyard, and down a hall in a separate building. Because it was so far away, teachers began limiting the times I could use a bathroom in a day. Soon enough, I could only go once, maybe twice—while the rest of my peers could use bathrooms located just across the hall. That was a serious violation of my rights, and it was all because the administration feared that students wouldn't or didn't feel comfortable with me using the girls' bathroom—the right bathroom for me.
Additionally, when you fuel a national debate around kids' genitalia, that doesn't seem to me like you have any respect for my privacy or that of my peers.
Stop talking about my genitals—I'm a kid.
This isn't the first time the bathroom has been a battle ground for civil rights. The "separate but equal" doctrine that legalized racial segregation in the US was overturned through decades of legal battles that began in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education. "Separate but equal" policies infringed on black people's right to exist in public spaces, and they were ruled to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. Yet today, we are still fighting against unconstitutional and discriminatory treatment of trans kids and adults in public spaces.
Those who oppose my right to use the girls' bathroom are violating my right to privacy and the constitutional promise to all Americans of equal protection of the laws. On top of that, when you require us to either prove our identity or force us into segregated spaces to relieve your own discomfort—or the imagined discomfort of others—you erase our humanity. And no one has the right to do that.
I shouldn't have to constantly validate my identity as a girl, and yet discriminatory bathroom policies force me and other trans students to do so every day. Our dignity is stripped away from us in front of our peers. We are labeled as "other"— creating a toxic culture in and outside of the school as other students are taught that we are not really who we say we are. When we do this—when we discriminate against groups of people—we all lose a sense of our humanity.
In these unsupportive, stigmatizing, and hostile environments, trans students are in serious danger. Forty percent of us attempt suicide at some point in our lives, compared to the 4.6 percent of the cisgendered population. We are also three times as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general population. On the other hand, researchers say that when we are supported and treated equally, our rates of mental and physical harm can be the same as everyone else's.
Am I not human, do I not deserve to live, do I not deserve the same rights as others? Should my human rights be violated because people are uneducated about the science of gender identity, and therefore uncomfortable with my body?
Respect me, my body, and my privacy. Stop talking about my genitals—I'm a kid. I will educate you so your fear can disappear and we'll all be good.