Chief Executive Officer
Whittier Area Transgender Association
I am writing because I read the article by Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. I am writing as the Chief Executive Officer of the Whittier Area Transgender Association.
We do not believe that Mr. Dacus has all his facts in order when it comes to transgender Americans. As part of our mission to educate the community about transgender issues, we would like to offer a response.
Scientists have found in study after study that transgenderism is caused by a combination of genetics and the biochemical interactions of mother and child inutero. Generally a child’s biological father has no impact on whether the child will turn out transgender. The trait can only be passed by the maternal line.
We have to be careful when it comes to children, however. For example the Association would never recommend sex reassignment surgery for anyone under the age of 21 because they are still developing, but we do recommend hormone replacement therapy starting no sooner than the onset of puberty. A child who is 4 years of age does not have the mental capacity to know whether he or she is truly the opposite gender. Remember, this is the age that kids tend to have invisible friends and believe themselves to be superheroes. We recommend that parents wait and see before rushing to put their kids on HRT. It is better to be cautious than to make a mistake.
It is the position of the Whittier Area Transgender Association that initiating sex reassignment surgery on children younger than adulthood and HRT on prepubescent children to be a form of child abuse at worse and child endangerment at a minimum.
Any person who seeks to undergo these procedures needs to be capable of rational decisions and needs to know the serious risks in addition to benefits. Children do not have the capacity to understand these things.
Now with regards to the restrooms policy, this issue should be handled on a case-by-case basis to protect the privacy rights of not only cisgender students but transgender students as well. No one, not event a parent, has the right to know if another student at their child’s school is transgender or not. To this end we find that the California restroom law is inadequate and that a better model for these situations is the Title VII 1964 Civil Rights Act. The US Department of Education has ruled Title VII applies to transgender students. Under this ruling transgender students, by federal law, must be permitted to use the restroom of the gender they identify as. Title VII, however, does allow a district to require proof of trangenderism unlike current state law which prohibits schools from requiring such proof.
What the Whittier Area Transgender Association recommends is that schools verify that a student is truly transgender. This can be accomplished with a simple note from a doctor or mental health professional. This note would then go into a private marked file which would be exempt from public records requests to protect the student from harrassment and discriminatory treatment. In this respect only the school nurse, principle, and the district superintendent would have the authorization to access or hold such information because of job requirements.
Once status is verified, the transgender student would then be required to use the restroom of his or her medically assigned gender which could be different from birth gender.
This is not to say that district should be prohibited from sending a transgender student to another health professional to get a second opinion.
As for the law itself, we believe that California’s law is invalid because it is superseded by federal law on the matter. Which is good for everyone because the federal law protects everyone, not just transgenders.