My daughter is a typical six-year-old girl. She’s smart and creative. She loves to read, write, and draw. She likes to play outside and dig in the mud. She likes to run. She likes to make blanket forts with her little brother and build with legos for hours on end. She loves kittens and horses. Her favorite colors are purple, pink, rainbow, and anything with sparkles. She’s a silly, outgoing, caring, and well-adjusted young girl.
In some ways, though, she’s not so typical. She is disrespected, mistreated, and targeted with a kind of hate that no child should even know exists in the world. Despite this mistreatment, she knows herself, she loves herself, and she refuses to let other people dictate who she can or should be. She’s the most courageous person I have ever known. She also has a simple request, for something she should not have to ask for: She would like to use the girls’ restroom at school.
Unlike every other child at her school, my daughter is prohibited from entering the student restrooms. Instead, she is required to use a separate, single-stall staff restroom. The school administration forcibly segregates her from her peers because she was assigned male at birth. My daughter’s sex assigned at birth is only one very small part of who she is, but to her principal, this is the only part of her that matters.
School administrators use her sex assigned at birth to justify a laundry list of abuses and indignities. They’ve declined to enforce their own anti-harassment policies. They’ve downplayed and dismissed her being assaulted by another student. They’ve violated her privacy by outing her throughout the school system without consent. They’ve refused to amend the sex marker in her student records, despite the fact that she is legally female, with the government-issued identification documents to prove it. And they’ve barred her from accessing public restroom facilities every day for the last seven months.
My daughter knows that her school does not accept her for who she is, and in her innocence, she doesn’t understand why. For months, she was scared to use the restroom at school out of fear of being hurt by another student or punished by a teacher. She was convinced there were cameras in and near the restroom so that the principal could spy on her. I had to go to the school to personally check the restroom for cameras multiple times in order to put her mind at ease. No child should have anxiety about something as simple as using the restroom, yet the school administration is ensuring just that.
The school has no working understanding of what it means to be transgender, nor have they shown any interest in learning. I will continue trying to help them listen and work with me to ensure my daughter is safe and protected. And my daughter isn’t unique in this struggle; there are other transgender students in our school district, in our state, and in our country who are being subjected to similar mistreatment, and worse.
Recently, the Supreme Court sent the case of trans student Gavin Grimm to a lower court, putting trans students’ protections in limbo, and my daughter wrote this letter to share with the judges. I fear that the only way my daughter’s school and so many other schools across the country will ever respect the rights of transgender students is if the courts make the right decision and require schools to respect transgender youth.
As the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals hears Gavin’s case, I urge you to take action to #ProtectTransYouth like Gavin and my daughter. I urge you to demand that your state’s governor issue a statement in support of trans youth and direct your state’s Department of Education to issue and enforce policies that support trans students. Please stand with my daughter. Please stand with trans youth. Please #StandWithGavin.
The mother and daughter live in Tennessee.
If you witness or experience discrimination at school, #ClaimYourRights with the Office for Civil Rights.
Change your Facebook profile photo frame in support of trans youth.