Lawmakers: Stop Using Transgender Citizens as Political Pawns | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Lawmakers: Stop Using Transgender Citizens as Political Pawns

In a state where lawmakers couldn't make domestic violence grounds for divorce, the same group of legislators claim that the protection of girls and women informs their decision to demand the state superintendent of education to resign from her job for "risking the safety" of girls in classrooms.

In a state where lawmakers insist that charter-school legislation exists to give every child a safe and productive academic environment, those same lawmakers would seek to punish education leaders for trying to protect some of its most vulnerable students. It is clearly too important to use scare tactics to get votes than truly protect women and children in Mississippi.

In 1993, Minnesota amended its Human Rights Act to include a statewide trans-inclusive bathroom policy, forbidding discrimination against transgender people in restrooms. In 2014, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department told media watchdog group MediaMatters that sexual assaults related to the policy were "not even remotely a problem." On April 21, 2016, a coalition of more than 250 groups led by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women released a statement condemning legislation and policies that discriminate against transgender people.

"States across the country have introduced harmful legislation or initiatives that seek to repeal nondiscrimination protections or restrict transgender people's access to gender-specific facilities like restrooms. Those who are pushing these proposals have claimed that these proposals are necessary for public safety and to prevent sexual violence against women and children. As rape crisis centers, shelters, and other service providers who work each and every day to meet the needs of all survivors and reduce sexual assault and domestic violence throughout society, we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false," the statement reads.

The task force pointed out that more than 200 municipalities and 18 states have long nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people's access to facilities. None of those laws has harmed non-transgender people, the group said.

"The claim that allowing transgender people to use the facilities that match the gender they live every day allows men into women's bathrooms or women into men's is based either on a flawed understanding of what it means to be transgender or a misrepresentation of the law," it continued.

Though sticking it to the president of the United States might serve partisan agendas, it is petty and childish in the wake of continuing a cycle of violence against trans people to use that population as a conservative political wedge issue. And it is especially disgusting to pretend that these actions are done for the best interests of children, when it is about neither children nor bathrooms.

The state has no money to thumb its nose at federal guidelines that help fund an-already underfunded education budget. The public must demand better out of these legislators.

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