Who’s Right? Transgender Girl Banned From School Girl’s Bathroom, Parents Cite Discrimination

February 28, 2013  |  

Source: AP Images

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?

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  • I’m sorry if looking out for the welfare of a child makes me selfish.

  • BULLLLLLSHEEETTT, nobody knows anything that young, maybe he’s just an effeminate male.

  • I feel so sorry for this child. First of all, though I know that children can be more perceptive than people give them credit for, I don’t understand how an 18-month-old, a baby, started “expressing” his desire to be a girl. From what they’re saying, it sounds like his parents had a lot more to do with interpreting his actions as an indicator of him wanting to be a girl, and treated him accordingly. What exactly did he do that made them implement this radical change? Second, even if his parents are saying that he identifies as a girl, the truth is that he still has male genitalia. They’re talking about the unfairness of him having to use the boys’ bathroom; what about the problems of the little girls having a boy in their restroom? That can be extremely uncomfortable for them. It would be different if he were an adult, and had the ability to make those decisions on his own. But he’s still a child, and it’s not correct or fair for his parents to allow this to happen, or to impose their own interpretations on him.

  • pickneychile

    What the what!? The parents are idiots. If your “daughter” has male parts don’t act like it’s everyone else’s fault for not feeling it’s appropriate for the kid to use the girls restroom. And if gender is supposedly only in the mind they are starting a slippery slope. I guess people can start tell the DMV that they are not really black. I can imagine this happening when getting a license…”Oh no sir, it’s just the color of my skin but in my head I’m an Irish man. Don’t you know ethnicity is in your head?”

  • Raising a transgender child especially in this close minded and ignorant society can be extremely difficult. It goes beyond liking girl or boy things. It’s about being self-aware, and recognizing the difference between who you are a girl and what boys are. There is actual evidence of brain scans of transgender people, who identify with the gender they feel they are.

  • FromUR2UB

    I can’t remember back that far, when I enrolled my kids in kindergarten, whether I had to provide a copy of their birth certificates, which would explain how anyone knew. I’m not convinced that children that young identify with either sex. I don’t remember how old I was when I first understood that I was a girl, but I think once I did, it was because my parents had repeatedly referred to me as a girl, treated me like a girl. I tend to doubt that these parents “taught” him that he is a boy. It seems that indulging the child’s desire to dress as a girl and look like one, might be hoeing a tougher row for HIM, because any time someone is unhappy with who they are, they’re destined to spend their life searching for peace. Whatever a person decides to do with him or herself as an adult is a different matter. Some people say they’ve known their entire lives and that may be true, but I think it’s a disservice to a child to not try to teach him to be happy in his skin, before allowing him to act upon what could be something temporary.

    • totally agree!!

    • MLS2698

      It’s total bull. I’m taking child psych right now, and self awareness is not even until 18 months. And even then, they only know themselves as a separate entity; not their sex.

    • I agree. It doesn’t seem like his parents made much of an effort to let him be a boy.

  • adanie12

    You know, I really wish I could read the article without twenty million ads popping up! I would like to have an opinion if I wasn’t bombarded with having to close fifty million pop up windows trying to sell me something! I understand you need advertisements to run the website, but popping them up right in the middle of the article that I’m trying to read defeats the purpose of having a blog! Geeze!

  • Kahekili

    HE is a BOY.

  • Drew Smith

    First of all, Coy’s parents need to be dragged by their hooves, and flogged in the middle of the downtown Denver. This is asinine, and people know it. The designation betwixt male and female is genitalia — that’s it. You go to the bathroom that aligns with your God-given, or otherwise received parts. And, we don’t give the lil’ ones enough credit. Many arguments I’ve read are based on 6-year-old kids not knowing the difference at such a young age. Meanwhile (back in reality), these kids are already forming cliques and other ways of differentiation. Here’s a little question cheeky boys ask at that age: “Do you have a p*nis or a v*gina?” If the question was posed to him, poor, little Coy would probably have a full-fledged meltdown right in the middle of the 4-square game. Now, that’s a damned shame, because 4-square is a fun game and the teacher would probably have ended recess early. SMH

    • You have people who are hermaphrodites you have woman with male genitalia does that make them a man suddenly, You also have male hermaphrodites who get their period, does that make them a woman? having a v*gina, giving birth, producing ovaries, getting birth, having breasts etc.. are characteristics of being a woman not a defining trait. There are alot of people out there who don’t have those things, are they suddenly not a female anymore?

      • Drew Smith

        You raise great points, Kayla. Unfortunately, none of them have anything to do with the topic at hand, which is already troublesome enough. We’re keeping it simple (sarcasm), and chatting about a 6-year-old boy — with a p*nis, at that — who’s been given the liberty to make his own decisions, one of them being to identify as a girl, and a school that’s decided it’s out of order for him to use the girls’ bathroom. That’s all we’re doing here today, Love. Stick to the script. Next question, please.

    • MLS2698

      Little Coy would not have a meltdown, but simply, stick to the script HIS parents gave HIM. COY THE BOY.

      • Drew Smith

        Only in reality…

  • SheBe

    Im confused. How is it that at 18 months “he” showed signs of wanting to be a girl? Because he wanted to dress a certain way and play with certain toys? Ummmm ok. Im not understanding that bit of info. I don’t see children that age viewing their toys and clothes as “girl” clothes or “boy” clothes. I can remember playing with Ninja Turtles in Kindergarten but never associated myself as being a “boy”. I knew I was a girl that liked to play with Barbies and Ninja Turtles. Did the parents confuse normal behavior as a gender qualifier and give “her” a new gender? Im so confused…

    • cryssi

      Ikr…I was a huge Daddy’s girl. I mean I would wrestle with the boys, dress like a tomboy, pretend to shave with a spoon, and I hated my big fluffy church dresses. I don’t know how many times I told my mom to cut off my hair…that doesn’t mean I was a boy mentally, I was a child acting like a child and being a child. I knew I was a girl….this is plain old stupid.

      • SheBe

        Im with you. I was a bit of a tomboy too. Im now very girly (still can be a bit rugged if I wanted lol) and I never lost sight of that. My mom never questioned my antics or anything. She let me play with gender specific toys and play sports. She made me dress girly when needed and I hated it as well. In my opinion, these parents have placed an unnecessary burden on this child. They have given him a gender. This isnt something he “chose”. He has been conditioned to be what his nature is not.

      • you knew you were a girl, that just liked boy things.