We at the CNY Solidarity Coalition condemn the Trump administration’s decision in recent days to undo and undermine transgender rights. The Departments of Justice and Education, under the “leadership” of Secretaries Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos, jointly withdrew guidance issued by the Obama administration that directed schools to allow trans students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. The Trump administration has taken a position favoring a vaguely defined ‘states’ rights’ over the lives, safety, and civil rights of transgender students and people. We wholeheartedly reject this position.
This has never just been about access to bathrooms – it is about dignity. Let us be clear: ensuring access to restrooms in public facilities is critical for transgender people. Bathroom access without fear of harassment or legal sanction is a necessary good that most of us take for granted. Efforts to restrict transgender rights are part of a political project to exclude trans people from public life. Doing so seeks to deny civil rights and devalue transgender lives. History teaches us that laws that target vulnerable populations for exclusion only serve to make those groups more vulnerable. In 2016, as so-called ‘bathroom bills’ became an issue of contention, 27 transgender people were murdered, making it the deadliest year on record. These were nearly all people of color, and most were black. Oppression reinforces oppression in a cycle that can only be broken by deliberate resistance.
We express our solidarity with our transgender friends, family, children, and neighbors and with all communities who are being threatened. We are pleased by Governor Cuomo’s announcement that New York State will protect the rights of transgender students. We are proud of the many educators in our communities who work every day to make schools a safe environment where all students can thrive and learn. We call on all state officials and educators to support efforts to make New York schools fully inclusive. We call on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representatives Katko and Tenney to work to expand trans rights at the federal level. As ever, we are united by a shared commitment to defending, supporting, and uplifting one another as people worthy of equal protection, dignity, and respect.