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Transgender bill drawn from empathy, compassion
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

Frank Aquila and I rarely agree on political or social issues. Usually, after reading his letters, I just shrug my shoulders and move on, knowing we are all entitled to express our opinions. However, his most recent letter on Assembly Bill 1266 concerning transgender students was filled with such blatantly offensive assertions, opinions, and fear-mongering that I feel compelled to respond. His letter glorifies in negatively charged words and loaded phrases such as “laying groundwork to brainwash and sexualize our children,” “compromising the sexual privacy of many to satisfy a few transgender individuals,” “gay mafia,” and “perverting the lifestyle of 99.7% and endangering our children.”

The Bill would allow transgender students (those whose gender identity differs from their birth gender) “to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions and use of facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” Aquila disregards the main focus of the Bill which gives transgender students the right to participate in sex-segregated school activities or sports programs corresponding to their gender identity. Instead, he raises the specter of students supposedly changing clothes and showering together in the locker room. For clarification, in MUSD, K-8th grade schools have neither shower facilities nor locker rooms. At high schools, common sense leads us to conclude that a transgender boy who identified as a girl would be reluctant to flaunt a penis when trying to live an authentic life as a girl. Why would such an individual subject him/herself to unwelcome scrutiny? It is far more likely arrangements would be made to shower before or after the other female teammates or change clothes in restrooms equipped with stall doors. Aquila implies that transgender students deliberately seek to “compromise the sexual privacy” of their teammates and he brings up the bogus argument that the needs or comforts of the many outweigh the right of the few. According to this logic, our school district should suspend all monies spent on complying with the ADA (American Disabilities Act) making schools wheelchair accessible, etc., because “few” students or staff require such accessibility, compared to student/staff general population. Readers can recognize the absurdity of such an argument.

Aquila suggests the far-fetched scenario that the Bill could lead to rape, pondering, “How long would it take a group of boys to figure out that they can legally go to the girl’s shower just by claiming they are girls trapped in a boy’s body? To give credence to this suggestion, we would have to accept that a group of boys would purposely dress and act like girls, approach administration claiming they were transgender, try out for and make whatever sex-segregated girls’ sport was offered, and then rape their female teammates in the shower, because, naturally, under such conditions the coach would be nowhere on the premises. That is simply fear-mongering at its most obvious. As a side note, gays and lesbians shower with their fellow team mates and we are not reading stories of forced sex or inappropriate conduct.

I’m no expert on transgenders. But I can understand how devastating it would be to feel stuck in the body of the wrong gender and the desire to lead an authentic life, true to your heart and soul. I highly doubt that transgenders, with their own unique personal challenges, have some conspiracy to “pervert the lifestyle” or “endanger” their fellow students. Aquila uses “equality” as a dirty word, when the Bill just ensures a fair opportunity for all students to maximize their positive school experiences. I suggest that Aquila research the transgender topic more thoroughly which might mitigate his sad lack of empathy or compassion.

Karen Pearsall
May 15, 2013