The Transgender Child Act: Fighting the Enraged Victims of the Virginia Elementary School Protest of Gender Equality and Freedom
Struggles similar to mine are still being endured by transgender kids in school across this country. That’s true more than ever in my home state of Virginia, where the state Board of Education has proposed strict new bans on how and where trans kids can participate in school life. The public comment period for policy changes in Virginia schools attracted tens of thousands of people. The new policy will not be implemented until the end of this month in order to give officials enough time to review the comments.
I had become the agenda item and the subject of headlines not just in my hometown, but across the country. At the school board meeting, parents of my kids called me a freak when they talked about my genitals in public. That’s how low they were willing to go to inflict hate on a child.
My activism on transgender rights led me to write a children’s book with co-author Kyle Lukoff called “If You’re a Kid Like Gavin,” detailing my battle for equality and freedom. I’m hoping that even if transgender kids don’t have the support of a loving parent like I did, they’ll see themselves reflected in its pages.
These dangers come in many different guises, but they don’t all come at the hands of a violent person. According to a report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, 54,000 trans people between the ages of 13 and 17 may lose access to gender-affirming medical care due to the raft of anti-trans bills in the US.
Even as a high school student, threats to the lives of trans Americans had reached a dangerous tipping point. I had never wanted to be an activist. I was just a kid. But it felt like the task of spreading greater awareness about a community that had been pushed to the margins fell to me.
These treatments, that have allowed me and other transgender people to become the people we were intended to, have been studied and peer reviewed and are best practices developed by the American Medical Association, American Association of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, the Endocrine Society and other leading health organizations.
Yet, across the country, they are being banned, challenged or indefinitely delayed, while people hoping to transition are put through a series of hoops and hurdles before getting access to treatment.
My case ended in favor of trans students. After the win at the fourth circuit, the Title IX of the education amendment’s protections include transexual people in certain parts of the country. The Supreme Court declined to weigh in, allowing the decision to stand. The model policies set by the Department of Education were used by the Fourth Circuit’s schools to create a policy that provided for the needs and rights of trans students.
The school board was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX of the US Education Amendments of 1972, according to the courts, that ruled after four years.
I had hoped so. In fact, appropriate policies were adopted across the Fourth Circuit in response to social change, other court decisions, the tireless work of transgender activists, as well as the outcome of my case.
The Protest of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Proposed Restriction on Transsexual Students: The Case for Fairness for Girls and Women in Athletics
But last year saw the election of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who ran on a platform that included blatant misinformation and targeted attacks against marginalized communities.
Under his administration’s proposed guidelines, transgender students would only be permitted to use their correct name, pronouns and facilities if a parent requests so in writing. The measure doesn’t contain any language that requires schools to approve such requests. This excludes children who are not with their parents for any reason and those whose parents are not supportive.
And notably, Virginia’s model policy contains language permitting schools to go beyond the guidelines and institute even more restrictive rules, saying “Each school board shall adopt policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Virginia Department of Education.”
It seems that Governor Youngkin is unwilling to accept established federal and state law, as well as guidance and best practices from leading authorities regarding the physical and mental health of children and young adults. Youngkin and his administration have talked about the rights of children and religious liberty, but I believe their real agenda is to use minorities as scapegoats in order to win support from his base.
He may succeed in that, but his gains will be temporary. Thousands of students across Virginia walked out of school to protest Youngkin’s proposed restrictions on trans students. People are protesting against a proposed policy. The community of transgender people is not going away.
A judge in the US said that being transexual is natural and is not a choice. “But one’s sex is also natural, and it dictates physical characteristics that are relevant to athletics.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and its West Virginia chapter filed the lawsuit in 2021 on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl who hoped to compete in middle school cross-country in Harrison County. The lawsuit named the state and county boards of education and their superintendents as defendants.
“This is not only about simple biology, but fairness for women’s sports, plain and simple,” the attorney general said. We must make sure that opportunities are preserved for girls and women on the field.
The legislature defines “girl” as being based on “biological sex”, in order to provide equal athletic opportunities for females.
He said in his decision that the person should not be judged or discriminated against based on her sexuality and that she should be able to live free from prejudice. He was not able to find evidence that the legislation was harmful.
Noem’s signature comes on the heels of the state’s push last year to ban transgender girls and women from playing on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity and makes South Dakota just the latest Republican-led state to restrict trans minors’ access to gender-affirming treatments.
The Utah Republican General Assembly signed a bill last month that bans hormone therapy and surgery for minors with gender-affirming conditions. The letter to Cox
Had the legislature not done so, the court would not have been able to decide on the issue. “Nevertheless,” the judge concluded, “I must do so now.”
A 2017 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law used state-level, population-based surveys to estimate that West Virginia had the highest percentage (1.04%) of residents ages 13 to 17 among all states who identified as transgender. That equates to about 1,300 teens.
Late last month, Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill that bans hormone treatment and surgical procedures for minors who want gender-affirming care.
Cox explained in a statement that his decision was based on his belief that it was prudent to pause “these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences.”
“While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures,” he said.
In its letter to Cox, the civil rights organization said it was deeply concerned about “the damaging and potentially catastrophic effects this law will have on people’s lives and medical care and the grave violations of people’s constitutional rights it will cause.
The bill compromises the health and well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria by cutting off medical treatment supported by every major medical association in the United States. It ties the hands of doctors and parents by restricting access to the only evidence-based treatment available for this serious medical condition and impedes their ability to fulfill their professional obligations,” the letter said.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Mike Kennedy, a Republican family doctor has said government oversight is necessary for vital health care policy related to gender and youth.
School Choice: Suppressing State Government’s Relationship to the Education System and Protecting Weakly-Interacting Students from Misconceptions
Another measure was signed by Cox that would give scholarships to students who choose to attend private schools outside of the public education system. The bill raised teacher pay and benefits as a way to ease the state’s teacher shortage.
At least a dozen other states are considering similar legislation in what has emerged as a landmark year for school choice battles. The debates have inflamed teachers’ unions and resurfaced concerns about efforts to gradually privatize public education. If enacted, they could transform the nature of state government’s relationship with the education system and deepen contrasts between how going to school looks in many red versus blue states.
The Utah measure allocates $42 million in taxpayer funds to pay for scholarships so students can attend private schools. Roughly 5,000 students would receive $8,000 scholarships, which is roughly double the state’s “weighted pupil unit” funding that follows students to their schools. In an attempt to appease staunch opposition from the state’s teachers’ union, the bill also includes $6,000 in salary and benefits for Utah teachers.
Cox said that school choice works best if we adequately fund public education and remove unnecessary regulations that burden our public schools and make them difficult to succeed.
“South Dakota’s kids are our future. With this legislation, we are protecting kids from harmful, permanent medical procedures,” Noem said in a news release Monday. “I will always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans.”
HB 1080 outlaws the prescription and administration of puberty-blocking medication in patients under the age of 18, as well as sex hormones and surgery related to gender transition. If health care providers violate the new law, they will face civil suits and lose their licenses.
South Dakota fought back against a felony law making it felony for doctors to provide gender affirming medical services to children under 18 years old
A person who wants to be known as a female will benefit from evidence-based treatment that helps them transition from their assigned gender to their affirmed gender.
The Republican said that they want to provide true meaningful help to children who are struggling with their identities and not permanent physical damage.
Some children may want to use puberty suppression therapy because it is gender-affirming. The hormones can lead to gender-affirming physical change and may be used in this part of the process. Many health care providers do not offer children to minor, and surgical interventions aren’t usually done on them.
“Surgeries-gone-wrong are simply not happening in South Dakota,” Democratic state Sen. Liz Larson said during debate prior to the bill’s passage. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the state legislature when I’m in the doctor’s office.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Legion of South Dakota released a statement condemning the new law, saying it was a terrible day for people in South Dakota.
The Florida Department of Health stated last April that children who identify as trans or gender diverse should not be offered any social transition care and Alabama followed suit in May with a law making it a felony for doctors to administer gender affirming care for children.
The number of states that have bans could grow this year. The American Civil Liberties Union shared with CNN the number of bills that sought to restrict access to gender-affirming care in the country through February 9.