Photograph by Victoria Pickering
Dear Mr. President,
For the past month, I’ve been closely following the accusations and rants of bad hombres, fake news, the leaks, and your non relationship with Russia. Frankly, I am exhausted, but I continue to listen and I was recently struck at your callousness, disrespect, and disregard for the welfare of those who are different from your family and friends. To wit: transgender students.
According to the New York Times, last April you supported the right of transgender people to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.” Why the change of heart? Are you so easily swayed by the religious right to take away the civil rights of a group of people? Is your intention to make this country more polarized than it is at the moment?
Did you know, sir, that according to the 2015 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 57.6 percent of transgender youth feel unsafe at school, and those who are able to persevere had significantly lower GPAs? Furthermore, 85.2 percent experienced verbal harassment. Transgender students are more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety, and are less likely to plan on continuing their education.
Many students struggle to go to school and be themselves without being ridiculed or punished for wearing clothes or using facilities consistent with who they are. In addition, opportunities to go on field trips or take part in sports have been denied to them. Even more heartbreaking is that almost 50 percent of transgender teens have thought about suicide, and 25 percent reported they have made a suicide attempt.
By rescinding this rule on bathrooms for transgender teens, sir, you have put their lives in danger. They will be ridiculed and humiliated, bullied and terrorized, and shunned by those who falsely believe they are standing on a higher moral ground. This is nothing but psychological torture.
I beseech you, sir, do the right thing and go back to what you said last April. Don’t be known as the president who contributed to the deaths of transgender teens because of hatred, ignorance and fear just to appease his conservative supporters.
This isn’t about politics, it’s about the rights of individuals to use a restroom.