Parents of a transgender girl and a transgender rights organization are filing a discrimination suit against a Colorado school district for prohibiting their daughter from using the girls’ restroom. Before we jump into the story though, let me pose this question:
When was the first time you were aware of your gender? When was the first time you knew, without a doubt, that you were either a little boy or a little girl. For me, that realization came around the time I was being potty trained, so around one or two. I don’t have clear memories of that time; but in my mind’s eye, I can still see the pretty, white panties my mom presented to me as an incentive not to wet the bed at night. They were soft and had dainty ruffles on back. They were beautiful.The speech she gave went something like, “Do you like these big girl panties? Well, if you want to wear them, you can’t urinate on yourself.” The phrase “big girl” stuck with me. As the oldest child, I spent a lot of time watching and observing my parents. I knew that they were in charge of me, but the goal was to one day become a “big girl.” Keyword: girl. From much earlier than we consciously realize it, we just know our gender.
Arguably, this realization comes from socialization and the messages we receive from our parents; but a big part of it also has to do with what we think about ourselves, even as babies. This is all fine and good when your mental view matches up with your genitalia; but when it doesn’t, life, unfortunately, becomes a little more complicated.
Such is the case for 6 year old, Coy Mathis of Colorado. Mathis was born with male genitalia but identifies as a female. Her mother, Kathryn, explained how she and her father Jeremy realized that their son was actually a transgender girl:
“We started noticing, when Coy was about 18 months, as soon as she could express herself, that she was really expressing that she was a girl. And of course at that time, our thought was that she was a little boy that liked girls’ things and it wasn’t until she started becoming depressed and anxious that we knew that there was something more going on and took her to medical professionals.”
In their interview with Katie Couric, the couple went on to say that Coy would be very excited about going to the park or leaving the house for some activity. And when her parents would set out boys’ clothes for her to wear, she would immediately lose interest in going to the park and say that she’d rather just stay home.
CNN’s report on the family, provided additional information about transgender individuals saying that data and comprehensive studies have found that “[transgender children] are not intersex — they do not have a physical disorder or malformation of their sexual organs. The gender issue exists in the brain, though experts do not agree on whether it’s psychologically or physiologically based.
The article went on to say that transgender children are rare. International studies and data have found that there are only an estimated 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 1,000 people who are transgender.
Being that this population is so small, there is still a lot people have to learn about this lifestyle. And where there’s ignorance or misinformation, there’s often fear and mistreatment. Life as a transgendered individual is not an easy one and Coy and her family are learning this unfortunate truth very early.
When it was time for Coy to go to school, her parents enrolled her in Eagleside Elementary, a school in Colorado’s Fountain-Fort Carson School District. During kindergarten and the first half of first grade, her parents had no complaints about the school. But all of this changed when a school official called Kathryn and told her that Coy would no longer be able to use the girl’s bathroom, like she’d been doing since she started attending Eagleside.
Kathryn had this to say in response:
“We were very confused because everything was going so well, and they had been so accepting, and all of a sudden it changed and it was very confusing and very upsetting because we knew that, by doing that, she was going to go back to being unhappy,”
In an attempt to protect Coy from teasing and possible bullying, her parents pulled her out of Eagleside and started homeschooling her. They also partnered with a transgender rights group to file a discrimination complaint against the school.
Though the school has said that Coy will no longer be able to use the girls’ restroom; they said that she will be able to use the boys’ restroom and the unisex bathroom in the nurses’ office.
They issued this statement:
“However, I’m certain you can appreciate that, as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls’ restroom.”
While I can understand parents being concerned about a child, with male genitalia, using the girls’ restroom, I’m also wondering how these parents found out about Coy in the first place? Furthermore, in elementary school, teachers should still be monitoring when students go to the restroom and how long they’re in there. I know boys’ restrooms are a little different but all girls’ restrooms have stalls. I don’t see how the other students would even be aware of Coy’s genitalia unless, like the school has demonstrated, they weren’t protecting her privacy. I do see a potential issue with a child who looks like a girl and dresses like a girl going into the boy’s bathroom. It doesn’t sound safe and I can’t blame Coy’s parents for pulling her out of school before things took a turn for the worst.
What do you think about this situation, do Coy’s parents have a right to file this discrimination claim? Was the school wrong to say she can’t use the girls’ restroom anymore? What should this and other schools do when they have transgendered students in their population?