For some time now, the issue of transgender individuals has been a hot topic in the media. From bathroom laws enacted in North Carolina to Caitlyn Jenner’s total transformation before our eyes, the issue has become more and more present in our everyday lives.
According to the Williams Institute, 700,000 people in America identify as transgender. This translates to about 0.3% of all American adults. This figure is the product of two surveys – one conducted in 2003 and the other in 2007. With the rise in visibility and awareness, that number can only have increased to include more people. Combine that with the number of college students in America and you can be sure that a significant amount of students are transgender. While they may be present, they may not always be seen or heard.
Despite the light shed on the subject, transgender students fear being the subject of discrimination and ridicule from of their peers. Here’s a fact: Even those that have decided to “come out” may not be able to go through the physical process of gender reassignment. Some of the procedures can cost between $5,000 and $50,000 according to the Transgender Law Center (no small amount for a typical undergrad).
If you’re a full-time college student, you spend most of your days in classes and on campus. Palm Beach State College has been more than accommodating of its students’ needs with its exemplary cafeterias, wellness centers and libraries. If you’re a full-time college student, you should also find yourself having to use the on campus bathroom more often than is convenient. Most people, do not have to question which restroom to use. We look at the gender marker outside the door to see if the figure is wearing a skirt or a pair of pants and decide which stall to go in to. This is not so simply done for members of the transgender community. Which bathroom do they choose? The one that fits their gender identity or the one that fits the biological marker they were born with?
Aside from struggling with a lack of health insurance coverage, abuse — whether physical or verbal — from family members, body dysphoria and intolerance on all levels, transgender people also face a giant obstacle each time they need to use the restroom. The stress is unimaginable for anyone else who doesn’t have to face this dilemma every day.
Here’s another fact: 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide according to the (2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey). From all the aggravation in their lives, many transgender people have chosen to try to end their lives. There is discrimination in the workplace, discrimination at home and on every other social level. Why should there have to be discrimination at school too?
More regulations should be put in place to protect the transgender students on our college campuses. While more intersex bathrooms on campus would be a great place to start, true progress begins with compassion towards our students.