Last night, the Trump administration announced that they were rescinding protections for transgender students in public schools. Implemented under former president Barack Obama in May 2016, the protections allowed trans students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities.
Two Trump-led federal departments have come out against Obama’s ruling, stating that it's not consistent with Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In addition, the department claimed there "must be due regard for the primary role of states and local school districts in establishing educational policy."
The move will shift transgender rights into the hands of the states, thirteen of which directly challenged the Obama administration’s protections in court.
"The president has made it clear throughout the campaign that he's a firm believer in states' rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
If you’re wondering what could go wrong without these protections, you need look no further than the infamous case of North Carolina. The state was sued by the Department of Justice under Obama for passing a "bathroom law" that prohibited the local government from protecting the rights of transgender people. It also forced trans people in North Carolina to use restrooms according to the gender listed on their birth certificate.
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, about 150,000 people aged 13 to 17 identify as transgender. Opponents to the reversals fear that these marginalized students will be at increased risk of bullying and overall vulnerability. Shortly after the administration announced their intentions to roll back protections, protestors began to gather outside of the White House.
However, all is not lost in the throes of Trump's discriminatory mania. On March 28, the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the case of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender student in Virginia who was restricted from using the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity. Last year, a federal appeals court ruled in his favor, citing that the Obama administration's interpretation of Title IX was accurate.
After failing to implement his controversial travel ban on immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries, it seems like Trump could be teeing up for yet another fight with the judicial branch. According to ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Joshua Block, the lead counsel for Grimm, the current administration “cannot change what Title IX means”, and that “we’re confident that the law is on Gavin’s side”.