At the turn of the millennia, Troxel v. Granville upheld a parent’s right to direct the upbringing of their children as protected by the 14th Amendment.
The same idea is now employed in the passage of transphobic laws and policies against transgender youth.
Earlier this year, advocated by the republican state senator Shay Shelnutt, an Alabama law that banned gender-affirming medical care for minors and forced local schools to out students to their parents was passed. Although a District Judge later blocked part of the Act to allow HRT treatments to remain legal, the issue is not presented alone in Alabama. Similarly, in a resolution she proposed to the Ohio Board of Education, the Conservative state board member Brendan Shea renounces the Biden Administration’s recent amendments to Title IX, which prohibits any form of sex-based discrimination. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is a proponent of requiring the CPS (Child Protection Services) to investigate parents for abuse if they provide their transgender children with medically approved treatment.
These policies inherently view students and youth as indistinguishable from one another and reject young adults’ capacity to make their own decisions regarding their gender identities. They argue freedom of speech yet ignore freedom of expression, a right which in particular was upheld for students in Tinker v. Des Moines when two high schoolers protesting the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands were suspended. SCOTUS declared this act of protest was protected by the First Amendment. The Tinker Test contemporarily is used to decide whether a student’s expression is interfering with the operation of the school; the gender expression of transgender students doesn’t do this, if anything it allows the educational process for those students to be uninterrupted by the stress caused by hearing gender rejecting language.
Recently, I reached out to a friend in Virginia regarding their view on governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to eliminate the usage of gender-neutral pronouns, require people to use bathrooms of their biological sex, and force students to receive parental consent before changing their names in school. The friend mentions their concern for another trans friend, who only hears the use of his correct name and pronouns at school after his family invalidates his new identity. “Youngkin’s gonna take that away from him”, they said, “I’m worried for him, and for his safety, really.” Affirming trans youths’ genders reduces mental health dangers. By taking away transgender youths’ usage of chosen names and pronouns, especially if that student’s family is unaccepting, the Virginia policies risk higher suicide rates for their trans youth compared to their cisgender counterparts.
Unfortunately, the campaign is not limited to only the states mentioned above. Many bills and policies such as those have been proposed in Republican states. In the past ten years, trans acceptance and equality have gone a long way. But unfortunately it is a continuing fight. So, remember that there’s power in the people, in actions big or small. Reach out to affected friends. Or if you’re affected, reach for someone to talk to. Protest against these policies, lead walkouts, and sign petitions. The First Amendment they are exploiting also guarantees you the right to protest against their actions civilly. And lastly, remember to organize, organize, and organize against this political campaign.
Written by: Lee Iraheta
Edited by: Celine Chiang