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.