Last week’s sweeping transgender equality order to all school districts from the Obama Administration came on the heels of legal showdown between North Carolina and the U.S. Justice Department. The order insists that school districts follow federal law or lose federal funding. Further, the order tightens up restrictions for state agencies who get federal funds from Department of Health and Human Services via Affordable Care Act — provide trans equality, or lose it. Likewise, the order clarifies protections for the disabled and non English speakers.
More of President Obama comments in an interview with Buzzfeed news:
“We’re talking about kids, and anybody who’s been in school, been in high school, who’s been a parent, I think should realize that kids who are sometimes in the minority — kids who have a different sexual orientation or are transgender — are subject to a lot of bullying, potentially they are vulnerable. I think that it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and our kids are all loved, and that they’re protected and that their dignity is affirmed.”
“We said, ‘It is our view that you should try to treat these kids with dignity,’ ” . . . “There are school districts who have been wrestling with this problem and have, we think, done a good job in accommodating them in a way that is good for everybody, and so you can learn from these best practices. This is what we are advising. . . . “Ultimately, depending on how these other lawsuits go, courts will affirm or reject how we see the issue.”
The Obama Administration should be commended for taking this momentous route to fix many of the issues and woes that ills trans people today. While many of these issues will ultimately be resolved in the courts and Obama hints towards that, the fact of the matter is we are several years ahead in the trans rights department today than we were two weeks ago.
Detractors, of course, are not standing by idly. A sampling, all Republicans, of course:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week: “I announced today that Texas is fighting this. Obama can’t rewrite the Civil Rights Act. He’s not a King.” This week Abbot told FOX News: “The president is turning the Constitution on its head. He’s trying to cram down as many parts of his liberal agenda on the United States of America as he possibly can” before leaving office in January.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: “We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States.”
Port Neches-Groves Schools (Texas) Superintendent Rodney Cavness: “I got news for President Barack Obama. He ain’t my president and he can’t tell me what to do. That letter is going straight to the paper shredder.”
Alabama state Rep. Will Ainsworth: “Dressing like a pirate doesn’t make you a pirate, dressing like an astronaut doesn’t make you an astronaut, and dressing like the opposite sex doesn’t make you a man or a woman.”
Detractors appear on-the-air:
Last week Lt. Gov. Patrick appeared on All In With Chris Hayes, Patrick dodged simple questions asked by Hayes about what the term transgender means until finally admitting he couldn’t answer it according to a report in Towleroad. After a few additional questions about whether trans people really exist, and complaints received from parents, Patrick was set off: “Chris, I feel you’re kind of hostile to the issue. I’m just trying to have a conversation here. You don’t kind of have to take me on.”
On MSNBC’s Hardball the Family Research Council’s Travis Weber dodged host Chris Matthews’ questions about which bathroom a trans woman should she use. Frustrated Matthews finally said: “You can’t answer the question, can you?” Later, Weber brought up “abuses” Matthews response: “When has that ever happened?” Weber then cited an unrelated case in another country. Matthew’s response to that: “That’s the best you can do?”
My article on the Justice Department’s showdown with North Carolina: https://lexiecannes.com/2016/05/09/ag-loretta-lynch-we-see-you-we-stand-with-you-and-we-will-do-everything-we-can-to-protect-you-going-forward/
Pdf of Obama‘s directive to schools: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/Dear%20Colleague%20Letter%20on%20Transgender%20Students.pdf
Other sources: New Civil Rights Movement, FOX News, KBMT-TV, Raw Story, The Advocate, al.com News, Towleroad.
Or get the DVD: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0963781332