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Trump Administration Withdraws Obama Appeal to Protect Trans Students’ Bathroom Rights



When the Trump administration announced that they wouldn’t sign an executive order protecting so-called “religious freedom” (read: legalized discrimination), many folks cautioned that the move wasn’t at all indicative of his stance on LGBTQIA rights and issues. Late last week, however, came a move that likely more accurately reflects his administration’s thoughts on such issues going forward.

The current nationwide injunction that bars transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity (read: the correct bathroom) will remain in place. President Obama filed an appeal against the injunction, but that appeal was just recently withdrawn by the current administration.

Just in case you’re not aware of the issue at hand: under a directive issued by the Obama administration, Title IX (which protects students at federally-funded schools from discrimination based on sex) was expanded to include transgender students (i.e., protection on the basis of gender identity). Many states viewed such a directive as an overreach by President Obama, and moved that such definitions be left to the individual states to decide.

Thus came the injunction against the expansion, which was issued by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas. Obama then filed an appeal, asking that the injunction only apply to the states involved in the lawsuit, not nationwide. Unfortunately, it applied to the entire country, and ended up buying time for states like North Carolina and Texas to pass their own versions of the bills, effectively blocking transgender people from using the bathroom in any public/federal building.

Arguments were scheduled to be heard this Tuesday, but with the Trump administration’s withdrawal of the appeal, that obviously won’t happen.

The thing is, this withdrawal won’t change things for trans people across the country—we’re still not allowed into the correct bathroom in many states, and trans students in college are still stuck trying to navigate where and how they’ll use the bathroom. (Go ahead and let the last part of that sentence sink in.) The injunction, after all, was filed last August, and there hasn’t been much progress in either repealing it or otherwise protecting trans students across the country.

And, personally speaking, it’s hard to expect much improvement on that front, or any other front regarding trans rights at all. Make no mistake; this is just the first of what are sure to be many “shots fired” against transgender rights and equality over the course of this administration—and possibly beyond. Lest we forget, very shortly after the election, Vice President Mike Pence swore that they would be going after trans rights, specifically calling out “the transgender bathroom issue.”

In the time since, Virginia and Texas have joined North Carolina in attempting to pass their own discriminatory transgender “bathroom bills.” As I’ve said time and time and time again, these laws are nothing more than legalized discrimination. Virginia’s attempted bill (which was shot down before it could become law) in particular seemed to go out of its way to make lives for trans students even more difficult, requiring that schools out trans students to their parents.

With each of these bills, one has to wonder (as always): just who exactly is protecting whom with these bills? The lawmakers in each of these states claim to be working on behalf of female students. But if the studies and polls about this issue are to be believed, then it isn’t women who feel the strongest about who gets to use the ladies’ room—it’s the men. Time and again, these bills are revealed to really just be men attempting to decide what’s best for women; these are attempts at white knighting to protect women (who never asked for it) from a threat that doesn’t even exist.

It is straight up dehumanizing to target a human being’s right to use the bathroom. Full stop. By removing the most basest of human rights, these lawmakers have invited a discussion over something that honestly shouldn’t even be up for debate. As well, by targeting trans students (read: children and teenagers), they’ve made it clear that there really is no limit as to how far they’re going to reach with their discriminatory practices.

Trans children deserve protection. That is not up for debate.

(via Teen Vogue, image via Shutterstock)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.