A look at the Chicago Public Schools guidelines for supporting transgender students

From Common Dreams:

“Win for Equality as Chicago Schools Pass ‘Equal and Inclusive’ Rules”

“Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has unveiled comprehensive protections for transgender students and employees, setting a model for other school districts amid a contentious national debate over the enforcement of gendered bathrooms and other rules.

The new policies (pdf), revealed Tuesday, will require all of the district’s 660 schools to accommodate transgender and gender nonconforming students based on their gender identity, rather than their biological sex, and those who have “a need or desire for increased privacy” should be granted “reasonable alternative arrangements” that can include access to single-stall restrooms or other areas.”

I have taken a look at the policy, available in PDF. Here are a few excerpts with my comments.

“The definitions provided here are not intended to label students but rather to assist in understanding these Guidelines and the legal obligations of Chicago Board of Education staff and students. Students might or might not use these terms to describe themselves.

• “Sex” or “Biological Sex” is a label a person is assigned at birth, often based on a medical professional’s interpretation of the newborn’s physical characteristics. Common examples may be “male,” “female,” or “intersex.”

This is not true. Biological sex is not a label, and it is not “assigned,” it is observed. The vast majority of humans are born either male or female, and doctors and parents merely observe which sex the baby is. You cannot “assign” a baby a sex any more than you can assign fingers or toes to the baby. What is assigned are social roles based on our cultural beliefs about who boys and girls are. It’s the social roles that need to be abolished.

• “Gender identity” is the deeply held sense or psychological knowledge that individuals have of their gender, regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Everyone has a gender identity. Common examples may include “male/man/boy,” “female/woman/girl,” “trans/transgender,” “gender variant,” “gender nonconforming,” “agender,” “gender nonbinary,” or any combination of these terms.

This is not true. Lots of people have no gender identity whatsoever. I do not “identify” as female, I just am female. I know I am female because I was born with female parts and I grew breasts and began to menstruate at puberty. I could assign an identity to myself based on my feelings or the clothes I wear or some other silly thing, but I do not, because that is pointless. I am just myself, no label needed. I understand that some people have a deeply held feeling about their gender, but this does not mean they need to pretend they are the opposite sex. It’s not necessary to deny your biological sex just because you have a personality or clothing preferences that are meaningful to you.

• “Transgender” describes people whose gender identity is different from the biological sex they were assigned at birth.”

• “Gender Nonconforming” (also known as Gender Expansive, Gender Variant, or Gender Creative) is a term that refers to individuals whose gender expression does not follow social expectations or stereotypes based on their sex assigned at birth.”

That applies to me, then. I do not follow the social expectations and stereotypes assigned to females. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t shave my legs, I cut my hair short, I wear comfortable clothes and I am partnered to a woman, not a man. However, I’d like to add here that everyone is somewhat gender variant, because no one adheres 100% to the stereotypes that our society attaches to men and women.

• “Gender expression” refers to the way a person expresses gender, such as clothing, hairstyles, activities, or mannerisms. An example of this may be a female expressing femininity or a female expressing masculinity.”

People should be free to express themselves through clothing, hairstyles, and activities. They should not be taught to believe that enjoyment of the wrong clothing or activities makes them the opposite sex. This is sexism.

• “Preferred Gender Pronoun (PGP) is the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or referring to that individual. Common examples include, “they,” “their,” “ze,” “he” and “she.”

• “Gender-affirming approach” is a framework used to create an environment in which transgender and gender nonconforming youth are able to live as the gendered person they identify themselves to be, and achieve healthy development and social, emotional, and academic success.”

Instead of affirming “gender,” which is a harmful social construct, we should instead affirm people’s personalities. Males who wish to have long hair and join the art club should be respected for those choices without being told the sexist idea that this makes them “girls,” and females should be able to cut their hair short and join the rugby team without being told that this makes them “boys.” Affirm the personality, reject the sexism.

“It is the goal of the Chicago Board of Education to create a learning environment in all its school communities where students are protected from bullying, discrimination, and harassment.”

I do not believe that promoting the idea that gender nonconforming kids are actually the opposite sex creates an environment free from discrimination. This reinforces sexism, which is a harmful system that oppresses both sexes but especially females. This is also homophobic; since a large number of gender nonconforming kids will grow up to be gay or lesbian, and teaching them that they are the opposite sex impedes their ability to develop a positive identity as a gay man or a lesbian. It sends them on a road to artificial hormones and surgery which is sometimes performed before the adolescent has ever had a romantic relationship in which they could actually realize that they are gay.

“All students have a right to privacy.”

This is an ironic thing to say in a document which effectively allows male students to use female locker rooms. Apparently females are not included in the words “All students.” If females had a right to privacy, then we would be guaranteed a locker room free from males.

“School staff shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status or gender nonconforming presentation to others. Therefore, given the sensitive nature of the information, when speaking with other staff members, parents, guardians, or third parties, school staff should not disclose a student’s preferred name, pronoun, or other confidential information pertaining to the student’s transgender or gender nonconforming status without the student’s permission, unless authorized to do so by the Law Department.”

So they officially state that parents should not be given important information about their minor children.

“Students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun corresponding to the gender identity they consistently assert at school. Students are not required to obtain a court order and/or gender change or to change their official records as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity.”

This policy allows fully intact males who have not taken any steps to transition to “identify” as females and therefore use female-only private spaces such as washrooms and locker rooms. Don’t think anyone would do that? Check out this guy.

“This directive excludes inadvertent slips or honest mistakes in the use of preferred names or pronouns. However, the intentional or persistent refusal by students or school staff to respect a student’s gender identity (for example, intentionally referring to the student by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the student’s gender identity) is a violation of these Guidelines, the Student Code of Conduct, and Comprehensive Non-Discrimination, Title IX and Sexual Harassment Policy. Such violations will result in appropriate consequences for offending staff and students.”

This means that as soon as anyone declares a “gender identity,” regardless of whether they ever actually transition, it will be against the rules to speak the truth and name their actual sex. This is the institutionalization of gas-lighting abuse. Girls will not be allowed to name their male classmates as male without getting in trouble, and therefore will not be able to object to males in their private spaces. This gas-lighting is harmful to all girls, but it is harmful in a particular way to lesbians, because they will be required to accept male students as “lesbians” at a time when they are only beginning to understand what being a lesbian means.

“Students shall have access to the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity consistently asserted at school. Supports and accommodations should also be provided to gender non-binary students and students questioning their gender identity, regardless of whether the student is consistently asserting at school. These accommodations should be assessed on a case-by-case basis in a manner consistent with the student’s support plan. Any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, should be provided with reasonable alternative arrangements. Reasonable alternative arrangements may include the use of a private area, or a separate changing schedule, or use of a single-stall restroom. Any alternative arrangement should be provided in a way that protects the student’s privacy and is consistent with the student’s support plan.”

All female students have an increased need of privacy, because we are vulnerable due to our place in the sex hierarchy and our female biology. As such, we require female-only washrooms and locker rooms. Females are not accommodated in this policy.

“In no case should a transgender student be denied the right to participate in an overnight field trip because of the student’s transgender status. Students shall be permitted to participate in accordance with the gender identity consistently asserted at school.”

Will female students be able to assert their need to be accommodated in female-only facilities, or will they be required to share rooms with male students who feel they have a gender identity?

This policy is dangerous for girls because it removes our right to privacy, it reinforces sexism, and it forces girls to disregard their own reality and accept boys’ feelings as the ultimate truth.

What schools should do to support gender nonconforming students is enforce anti-bullying policies making it difficult for anyone to bully kids who are different, to affirm kids’ right to be different, and to present homosexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation in sex education and family studies classes. All kids need to know that it’s okay not to follow sex role stereotypes, and that being different is not a problem.

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44 thoughts on “A look at the Chicago Public Schools guidelines for supporting transgender students

  1. If I had a kid, of either sex, but especially a daughter and she had to go to school with rules like that I would have to look into finding a different school for her. I mean what the fuck? What’s she supposed to do, just not pee all day? Not go on overnight trips because she might be assigned to a hotel room with a door that locks and no adult supervision sharing with a teenage boy?

    It’s not just that this crap is crazy in itself, it’s especially crazy in the context of The Danielle Muscato Era. Where the criteria for who is considered trans is absolutely anything. They aren’t even trying to make the rules have anything to do with reality. The people who drew this thing up are like the shitty young men on Twitter whining about bathroom laws and first pretending that bathroom pervs simply don’t exist, then when they have to admit they do waving it away as a minor thing. They’re just stupid uncaring young men. Why is policy being designed by people like them? 😠

    Liked by 4 people

      • Trans overtaking the bathrooms and curriculum of public schools is a great argument to make in favor of doing away with public education and replacing them with a voucher system, thus making the state pay for religious education.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We need public schools, and good ones. The voucher system is a bad idea and will weaken public education. The wealthy will continue to get their choice while the poor and middle class will not be able to afford the price differential of private and parochial schools. Attacking the public schools is a right wing agenda item. We need to challenge these ridiculous pro-trans ideas, sure. But promoting vouchers is not the answer.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I strongly agree with you regarding vouchers. If you really want to see how the Right wants to privatize public education, you should study what happened to public schools in New Orleans after Katrina. I did a paper on the subject. Lead by Milton Friedman, they destroyed the teachers unions. They treated the disaster as an opportunity to test their theories. These are the same forces behind privatizing our prisons, our utilities, etc. Cause you know when you free business from regulation and oversight they do SO well…like all those wonderful banks and mortgage companies.

          Liked by 3 people

      • This is so true. AND a men’s rights movement for transvestites. Who were already pretty men’s rightsie before that was even invented. Thinking of how they treat their wives. Book from the IIRC 1980s, Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses. 😣

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Men have tortured women for thousands of years, and now when we finally get a voice they decide they are the most tortured women of all.” – Dworkin’s Daughter, via Twitter

          Liked by 3 people

  2. Seems to me the whole pronoun thing is ripe for a First Amendment challenge on free speech grounds, if someone can prove harm, such as they are fired for not using a student’s preferred pronouns. The rule compels speech and denies people the right to accurately, truthfully communicate their own perceptions, observations, views, ideas, etc. This demand compels me to lie. If I go into the locker room and see a 6 ft 3 ex-marine wearing a lacy bra and nothing else, what am I supposed to say if I am alarmed about this? “There’s a burly….woman…in the ladies’ showers and, uh…..SHE is naked!” Doesn’t really convey what I am trying to say, does it? It requires me to lie, based on a dodgy, quasi-religious belief system.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not American, so not familiar with your Constitution, but I thought the First only applies to the government not being able to persecute someone? If it’s private bodies like schools or universities, does that count? Or would state schools come under the heading of government bodies?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Public (state) schools would come under the federal umbrella as they received federal funding. And there have cases, all the way to the US Supreme Court, that have involved schools challenging their students’ rights to free speech.

        http://education.findlaw.com/student-rights/free-speech-lawsuits-involving-public-schools.html

        This is a good summary of some of those cases, the last two in particular because they deal directly with “offensive” speech and disclosure of student status (in this case, pregnancy.)

        I don’t know if these rulings would extend to faculty, say a biology or sex ed teacher. Such cases may fall more towards the creationism/evolution education decisions.

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      • Amendment I

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

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      • The vast majority of American schools (primary and university) receive gov funding and are subject to the Constitution. The exception would be parochial schools. However, most try to honor our country’s principles.

        Like

    • My impression is that they are using anti-harassment or anti-hate speech laws as models, though these huge fines are insane. The idea is that if someone has made it clear to you that they expect to be considered male or female, you are not to refer to them in their presence using gendered language that refers to the opposite sex. This could go either way, doesn’t just have to be about the trans-identified.

      I don’t know how this works under equal protection considerations. If everybody wants to kill themselves when they are intentionally misgendered, maybe. But an awful lot of us don’t much care. So they’d have to aim for being some defined protected class, but without a firm definition of “transgender” I don’t see how that’s possible.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Re: free speech. Women cannot censor pornography because “free speech” but men can censor women who try to assert boundaries by making it illegal for us to say that males are male. Shows you who has power and who does not.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. It’s ideology. Opinion. So why can’t they present it as what a lot of parents and people believe and leave it at that. For, what about the parents and people who don’t believe it. What about the teens who want to be only with their own sex in private, and are distressed otherwise. That’s how I see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was a little butch in junior high school in Culpeper, Virginia, I was not at all welcome in the girl’s locker room. I can only imagine what those girls would do to me in today’s climate. They would likely force me to go to the boy’s locker room. This bathroom, locker room crap is really making life a lot less safe for those of us who don’t look like “normal” women. I’ve noticed it here in rural Maine and I bet it won’t be long before a butch woman gets attacked for using the correct bathroom.

    Liked by 4 people

      • The scary thing is, this was last year before this nonsense made the news every night.
        What really irritates me…I’m told it’s MY FAULT if someone attacks me because I should have long hair and wear feminine clothes.

        Liked by 3 people

        • You are quite right and I’m sure you realize this is nothing new, this blaming of women for the actions of men has been going on since the dawn of time.

          Men’s sexual urges are regarded as a non-negotiable force of nature, like lightning and thunder. So it’s the responsibility of women not to get sexually attacked by somehow choosing not to attract lightning, er, men.

          In short, the woman is responsible for causing herself to get assaulted.

          Every time a man argues this, my reply is something like this:

          “So men can’t really be expected to control themselves when faced with an attractive vulnerable woman? Because their genes or their instincts (or whatever the fuck) irresistibly drive them to attack? Their self-control and reasoning powers are insufficient? Then there should be a dusk to dawn curfew for men to protect women. Really, men should be locked up for the greater good of society and only let out under controlled conditions. That’s the logical consequence of your argument. Correct?”

          Liked by 3 people

        • Yup, that can’t be said enough. Very tired of this normalizing of abuse. Remember when they used to talk about male infanticide on radfemhub and femonade? Completely freaked men out, but if wild nonhumans behaved the way so many men say they can’t help behaving, those nonhumans would have been driven extinct a long time ago.

          I am a diehard social constructionist, optimist to the end, but the logical outcome of essentialism *is* arranging for there to be fewer men.

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        • P.S. By “attractive” I mean “attracting a man’s sexual interest for whatever reason”. I don’t mean “conventionally attractive” or anything of that kind.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I am speechless about everything going on right now. Just. I cannot wrap my head around it.

    I am a lesbian woman. I was raised (and abused and harassed) as an Arab-American Lesbian Woman in the middle of the deep South. I loathe, I absolutely loathe, these gender politics. These politics are erasing women and they are erasing the platform on which woman barely had a fighting chance of liberating themselves to begin with. They are erasing lesbians. They are also erasing young gay men, but hey, that’s not my zoo.

    They are removing my ability to use my words and confirm what I observe with my eyes. Yesterday a trans woman I know corrected me when I said “I wish people would stop calling me a boy/using “he” on me. I’m just a butchy lesbian. I can tell a butch lesbian from a man miles away. We’re old news. Can’t be that hard.” And he said, “Yeah but you would have to ask them their pronouns first. You can’t just tell by looking at someone what gender they are.”

    No, dick. I know what a lesbian looks like. I know what a woman is. I even know what a lesbian with a beard looks like 99% of the time.

    I’m tired of this thought-policing nightmare. I’m tired of people asking me if I’m a trans man, as if my state of being is so embarrassing and wrong to them that I couldn’t possibly just be a woman. I’m tired of sitting by quietly while liberal women and men jump right aboard the trans bandwagon, protecting violent and entitled men. I’m horrified when I think about what would have happened if I had been born just a few years earlier, battling homophobia and self-loathing in the midst of Transville, where future strong lesbian women go to take testosterone.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. All this is horrible. I am consistently surprised at the all too frequent human incapacity to use logic. The bathroom issue, for example, can be easily solved simply by replacing the words “men/boy” and “girl/women” with a drawing of cock ‘n balls, and another of a vulva. You have the one set of equipment, that’s where you go; you have the other, that’s where you go. Such a change would also go a good way to helping people open up the rigid gender boxes, as men get used to people in dresses entering their room, for example.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It consistently keeps getting more and more ridiculous and out of touch with reality. It’s ridiculous how many SJW types I know, both online and in real life, who are heartily supporting these policies letting men into women’s bathrooms, claiming to be “genderqueer” and “gender fluid,” talking about “preferred pronouns” and “assigned sex,” insisting “Transwomen ARE women, period, and if you still don’t believe it, I’ll shout it again louder!”

    The worst part is that this all seemed to arise within the last five years or so, and that all these people are acting like this is so common and normal. I’m sure I’d get shouted down as a bigot or out of touch if I dared bring up the fact that these trans-identified folks are presenting in disproportionately exploding numbers, completely unsupported by either science or history. I’m considered hateful and behind the times for finding unisex bathrooms creepy, and not wanting MEN in women’s-only safe spaces.

    If I’m ever blessed with kids before I’m too old, I’m very tempted to homeschool them if this trans craziness continues. Either that, or I’d send them to a private school which didn’t stand for this kind of nonsense.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Then you get these men saying “why are you women making such a big deal out of where people relieve themselves?” They’re not the ones getting perved on. And the trans rights people refuse to admit that pervs trolling the trans movement exist, or else insist that women putting up with this is a necessary evil, while meanwhile the right thinks we’re all pervs, everyone who does not conform. It really is a recipe for disaster.

      Nothing inherently wrong with homeschooling kids as long as you ensure they are exposed to other children and experiences in a varied manner, and it does do wonders for protecting them from bullying. The argument against it is the one against charter schools, that it ghettoizes children whose parents can’t swing these alternatives. However I can’t see how it’s fair to ask parents not to do the best they can for their kids, it smacks of a double bind.

      Like

  9. https://allisonslaw.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/man-who-is-not-on-cross-sex-hormones-had-any-cosmetic-surgeries-to-alter-his-appearance-or-even-changed-his-legal-gender-on-his-id-gets-to-use-womens-locker-room-and-sauna-at-university/

    Here’s a guy that just added an e to the end of his name, so lazy, and is using the women’s locker room and sauna at his university cause he says he’s a woman.

    There’s just going to be more of these creeps everyday and this is going to be what average people think of as LGBT rights and feminism. I take my neighbor kids swimming all the time at the local pool and if I ever run into one of these jerks in the locker room I’m just calling the cops

    Liked by 3 people

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