Bathroom Access Is Battleground, But Transgender Fight Goes Far Beyond That

Written by Jennifer Levi, staff attorney at GLAD, friend and advisor to TYEF, originally published in the Boston Globe.

BATHROOM ACCESS is hardly the fight that transgender advocates would have picked. But when opponents of transgender equality make that the issue (“Texas bill would limit bathroom access,” Daily Briefing, Jan. 6), we can’t shy away.

Still, let’s not lose sight of the fact that when a student cannot go to the bathroom while in school, they cannot get an education; when someone cannot use a bathroom in an airport, they cannot travel; and when a patient cannot use the bathroom in an emergency room, they cannot get medical care.

Laws like the one recently proposed in Texas and the one in place in North Carolina, while at a surface level addressing “bathroom access,” go far deeper. They mark transgender people with a stain of exclusion that is not easily undone.

Access to bathrooms is certainly important for anyone. It is for Gavin Grimm, the Virginia high school student whose case has reached the Supreme Court and will be heard this year. But what is at stake in the case is his right to an education, free of harassment and hostility, on the same basis as his fellow students.

Let this be unmistakable: The struggle for equality for transgender people is not ultimately about bathrooms. It’s about dignity, equality, and full inclusion in society.