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Opinion | A real victory for transgender kids

“Even the conservative U.S. Supreme Court has more respect for transgender kids than some in the Alabama Legislature.”

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Yes, even the conservative United States Supreme Court has more respect for transgender kids’ rights than some in the Alabama Legislature.

This week, the High Court, for the second time, refused to take up a case to bar a Virginia 17-year-old from having access to the boys’ bathroom. The transgender student was given access to a private bathroom instead.

The student, Gavin Grimm, told The New York Times that he was “glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over.

“Being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom and the girls’ room was humiliating for me and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education,” Grimm told The Times. Trans youth deserve to use the bathroom in peace without being humiliated and stigmatized by their own school boards and elected officials.”

Of course, Grimm is correct. But here in Alabama, some in the state Legislature don’t even want transgender teens to get appropriate care from physicians. A bill proposed in the recent Legislative session would have made it a felony for physicians treating transgender teens with hormone therapies or puberty blockers, among other treatments.

The bill passed the state Senate but failed on the last day of the Legislative session when the clock ran out. No doubt, lawmakers will try again.

The danger is real. Transgender teens have a higher rate of suicides than other teens. Not being allowed to get the medical and mental health care they need would no doubt put these teens at risk of harming themselves.

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A big problem with some members of the Legislature is that they didn’t even try to understand the issues surrounding transgender people in particular and transgender teens specifically.

The U.S. Supreme Court is telling transphobes basically to back off. These are good, decent humans like most people, especially those who are marginalized such as immigrants, African-Americans, very often women, and certainly those who are part of the LGBTQ+ communities.

Scott McCoy, the interim deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, had a strong reaction in support of the decision not to take the case:

“Like any children, transgender students have the best chance to thrive when they are supported. We urge school leaders to focus on what matters instead of finding divisive ways to hurt transgender youth,” McCoy said.

A person may not agree that transgender people and teens deserve equal protection under the law, but what they must do to be informed is to try to understand at least some of the issues involving the transgender community before proposing some Draconian bill that specifically discriminates against any minority, including those who are members of the LGBTQ+ communities.

“This is the second time the Supreme Court has rejected denying trans students access to bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities and yet another reminder that 29 states do not currently have laws in place to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination,” McCoy pointed out. Without the Equality Act, LGBTQ+ Americans remain vulnerable to being evicted from their homes, kicked out of a business that’s open to the public, denied health care, or denied government services in a majority of states simply because of who they are.

We’ve seen it all before, with African-Americans, with women, with undocumented immigrants, with the discrimination against Asian-Americans, and, of course, with LGBTQ+ folks.

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Some conservatives, mostly Republicans, aren’t happy to live and let live. They have to run other people’s lives because it makes them feel powerful. Being powerful, however, means being able to love the least of these, our fellow humans, wherever they come from.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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