The Biden Administration recently sent a message to transgender students as kids around the nation head back to school.
NBC News reports that members from the administration shared their support for transgender students in a video published on August 17, 2021. The participants were Suzanne Goldberg, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights from the Department of Education; Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General from the Department of Justice; and Dr. Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Biden Administration decided to stand behind these students in a time when the trans community is reportedly under attack from 130 anti-trans bills in 36 states.
“In some places, people in places of authority are putting up obstacles that would keep you from playing on the sports field, accessing the bathroom, and receiving the supportive and lifesaving care you may need,” says Kristen Clarke in the video. “We’re here to say, ‘That’s wrong—and it’s against the law.’”
“We know you are resilient,” adds Suzanne Goldberg, “and we hope you will find support where and when you need it. But we also want you to know the Department of Education and the entire federal government stand behind you. Your rights at school matter. You matter.”
The video also provided LGTBQ students with online resources from the federal government, such as pages on the Education Department’s and the Justice Department’s websites.
Dr. Rachel Levine, the first openly-transgender woman in a presidential administration, says that schools should be free of harassment so that students can succeed.
“It is critical to support trans youth and their parents and families to help them achieve the good health and well-being that everyone deserves,” she says.
Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, commends the video for “sending a strong and meaningful message to transgender students across the country — and especially in places where they have come under attack by politicians.”
“It’s so important for transgender kids to know that they are not alone and that the president of the United States has their back,” Heng-Lehtinen shares. “President Biden and his administration are working to make sure transgender youth have an opportunity to be safe, to learn and to be healthy. They are incredible allies.”
There is a push from LGTBQ advocates, as well as some parents and physicians, to allow children access to puberty-blocking hormones and sex-change surgery, according to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.
Yet, Oklahoman and former transgender Laura Perry is firmly against such practices. Perry had a bad relationship with her mother and was molested at an early age. She became ashamed of her femininity and felt that she was a man. She then underwent hormone therapy and surgery to become a man named “Jake.”
“I lived in a world of lies, suspended in limbo between reality and fantasy,” Perry shares. “I wanted to erase the existence of Laura so badly that even after realizing I could not be a man, I decided to hide and pretend, rather than embracing myself.”
She says that using trans people’s “proper name and pronouns” is not what they need.
“While it can seem to be a good solution, it’s actually destroying them,” she explains. “There are thousands upon thousands of people de-transitioning, and most will say the same thing—it was never real and it never resolved the internal struggle.”
Perry has since de-transitioned and feels happy as a woman.
Public schools, however, staunchly disagree with Perry’s perspective; instead, they affirm students’ gender uncertainty with policies that sometimes even hide the situation from parents.
A concerned citizen, Joseph Stringer, recently shared a letter with the Noah Webster Education Foundation that he wrote to his local Virginia newspaper. Any person with a mental health disorder can get counsel and care, he says. But if a boy thinks he’s a girl, he won’t get help. Instead, in Stringer’s view, society and everyone else not only has to lie to that man, but also must celebrate the man’s feelings. According to current popular thinking about anyone who claims to be transgender, no one should tell him the truth rooted in his biology.
He shares that some parents and concerned citizens have spoken out against the “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” movement in school boards because they see “that our state and national governments and our courts have overstepped their bounds in bringing forth unjust laws which deny reality, science and common sense.”
The bottom line, in Stringer’s opinion, is that students struggling with gender confusion need support, but not accommodation. They need people in their lives to care for them by giving them the help they deserve.
The Biden Administration might agree with that last statement…but its definition of help would be much different than Perry’s or Stringer’s.
The question is, what is the truth? And do students get to define that for themselves?
What do you think about the Biden Administration’s message to trans students? Do you think it’s more helpful or harmful in the long run?