If you thought the obsession with potties and the genitals of other people — particularly transgender people — was fading into the dumpster pile of the past where it belongs, you would be very wrong. Across the country, lots of schools are joining the fray and attempting to protect their students from other people peeing in the same room as them, an issue that will surely come to the forefront as we head into the school year.
Now one of those schools is facing a lawsuit because of its ridiculous and dehumanizing suggestion that trans students wear green wristbands so they can be easily identified and herded to the “correct” bathroom.
The fact that someone would even come up with such a terrible idea is astounding, and the fact that it took a 16-year-old trans boy named Ash Whitaker suing them over it to hopefully dissuade the school from going through with it is even more alarming. Did no adult look at the repulsive idea of making a child wear an identifying wristband that shouts their gender identity for all to hear and say, “Hey, you guys, it’s actually really frowned upon to make minority groups wear stuff like this. Oh, and also, this is very gross”?
No. A kid had to do it.
The idea in and of itself is reprehensible but not particularly surprising. The idea of a rule that requires people to use bathrooms that match the genitals they had at birth isn’t just dumb; it’s completely unenforceable, unless you plan to have someone stand outside the toilet and do a trouser check, which is illegal. So the solution to making sure that no one does The Thing That Makes Us Uncomfortable is to literally tag them. Ew.
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Do we really want to encourage kids to alienate and potentially harm their peers based on their gender identity? Would we like to ensure that the adults who still cling to crappy science and plug up their ears when you point out that, oh lookie, trans people have rights now, will now single out the kids that they consider to be unnatural?
Because this is exactly how you accomplish that.
You tag the people who are different, people who get to hear themselves described in nasty invective, and tell everyone to take a good, long look. When you do something like this, you must officially forfeit the right to frame this as a “safety” issue. This is the kind of thing that invites emotional and physical harm to children and makes it clear that you never cared about such a thing.
There’s more to Whitaker’s lawsuit than just the wristbands. There’s also the fact that adults at the school continue to call him by female pronouns and have, up until now, made him walk up to the office at the other end of the school when he has to take a leak, presumably so he knows exactly how little they value his autonomy.
This is ridiculous. You should not have to sue someone to be treated with the equality and respect you are entitled to by law. But as long as dumb ideas like green wristbands circulate, that’s exactly what kids like Ash Whitaker will have to do. We hope he succeeds and that the school learns a little something about human decency in the process.