While federal transgender bathroom protections are critical to many trans individuals, they are especially crucial to transgender teens. In the throes of puberty and everyday teen issues, transgender youth struggle with hiding parts of their identity and finding the courage to be themselves. Having the right to use whichever bathroom they wish can greatly help empower these students, who may otherwise feel extremely lonely. Transgender bathroom rights are one small step in showing trans kids that we, as a country, support them and want them to thrive to the best of their ability.
In an article for Vice, Diana Tourjee tells about her experiences while visiting several transgender teenagers who have been affected by the current political debate around which bathroom they should use.
One of the teens she visited was Gavin Grimm, whose transgender bathroom rights case has made headlines for months. He told Diana a story about how his boyhood was “stolen from him.”
Grimm transitioned during the summer before his sophomore year, but has run into legal issues with his high school regarding his bathroom usage ever since. While most teenagers struggle with homework, crushes, and friendships, Grimm has had to fight publicly for the right to use the bathroom for a large part of his high school career. Had federal protections been put in place for transgender students while Grimm was in school, he may have had this large burden taken off of his plate. He may have felt accepted. He may have felt encouraged.
Tourjee also visited a 13-year-old trans girl named Trinity. Homeschooled since kindergarten, Trinity lost the opportunity to go to school because the administration would not accept her gender identity. Had federal protections been put in place for transgender students while Trinity was in school, she may have had a mountain of stress taken off her plate. She may have felt loved. She may have been able to experience school.
These two stories demonstrate that bathroom issues can really put great strain on a transitioning teenager’s life. These kids want to be treated as the gender with which they identify, and that includes using the same restroom as the other members of that gender. Federal protections must be put in place so transgender teens can feel safe, accepted, and loved in school.