President Donald Trump recently revoked protections put in place during the Obama administration allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
Rescinding the directive revokes federal protections and leaves the decision up to local and state discretion.
Of course, the decision was not met without controversy.
“Frankly, we are in shock. It’s disturbing, disheartening, discouraging. We took a big step forward protecting transgender individuals when Obama took action — Trump’s rollback takes all that away,” said Danny Mueller, a transgender student at Utah State University.
Trump’s decision has been largely received negatively by transgender individuals, many saying it fosters a feeling of hate and fear.
Mueller, who prefers they/them pronouns, believes the action will have diverse reactions socially, personally and legally.
It provides people with the legal means to express their hate, they said.
Some believe the action was not an attack on transgender students, however.
USU junior Ethan Chadwick said he was in favor of Trump’s directive because “this isn’t so much an issue of actual people who do consider themselves to be a different gender than their biological gender.”
Chadwick said he thought Obama’s directive had “really open(ed) up the gates for people to abuse it” by making it easier for people to prey in bathrooms by claiming to identify as the opposite sex.
“You’re going to have exceptions with people who are filled with hate and intolerance that will make a big deal out of it, but I don’t think the majority of people will pay attention. For me, I think there’s a chance that I’ve been in the same bathroom of a woman who identifies as a male and I’ve never noticed. For me it’s not a big deal,” Chadwick said.
However, it is possible the action was neither a direct attack on the LGBT community nor a matter of restoring states’ power or community safety.
Michael Lyons, an associate professor of political science, suggested the action was more of a political move on the administration’s part. He said he thought transgender rights were “not something wise to oppose” at this point.
“I’m not talking in terms of right versus wrong. Political scientists never think about right versus wrong,” Lyons said. “Trump made a political calculation.”
Lyons reasoned the Trump administration was able to rescind the order by saying the old directive went beyond the Necessary and Proper Clause of the United States Constituion.
Ultimately, it was not as an attack on the LGBT community, but was a way to find favor with Christian Evangelicals, Lyons said.
Regardless of the reasoning, the action has resulted in fear and backlash from the LGBT community.
According to Michelle Bogdan-Holt, director of USU’s Access and Diversity Center, the university has promised none of the campus’s gender neutral bathrooms will be removed and the university will continue to protect the wellbeing of all its students.
Photo by Kyle Todecheene