How young are children when they begin to be subject to sexism? One could argue the vicious cycle has origins even before birth as parents’ frantically paint their walls baby pink and decorate frivolously. Growing up with such expectations to be a “girly girl” is demanding even for the heterosexual female (I can attest!), and for first grader Coy Mathis, the task is even more daunting.
From her picture, seven-year-old Coy is a beautiful young lady with fiery dyed pink hair and adorable fashion sense. Under the aesthetics, Coy is fighting a dark battle with Colorado’s Fountain-Fort Carson School District, who will not allow her to use the woman’s restroom. In order to try and find a compromise, the school district has granted Mathis access to the boys’ bathroom, gender-neutral faculty bathroom and the nurses’ bathroom. The school district claims to have made the decision based off the wellbeing of “other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls’ bathroom would have, as Coy grew older”.
Coy, who was born with male sex organs has identified herself as female for the greater part of a year. Her gender, which is also accurately reflected on her passport and state identification card, validates that Mathis has been legally acknowledged as female on both the federal and state level.
Coy’s parents plan on filing against the school, the results completely unpredictable when viewing past cases with similar criteria. In New York, students cannot be discriminated against for gender identity whilst in Maine, there was a court rule last November which stated the school had authority to deny student’s entry into facilities based on genitalia. Though some children show signs of gender dysphoria as early as age 3, many children end up identifying as homosexual instead of (solely) transgendered. The misinformed public often doesn’t care to research transgendered individuals, who do not have a physical disorder or deformity. Dr. Johanna Olson declares that most people don’t know the differences between homosexuality and identifying as the opposite sex, “gender identity is who you are and sexual orientation is who you want to have sex with.” Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund sees Coy’s access to women’s restrooms as an opportunity to “teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness”.
Regarding this issue, I apperceive both sides. I can understand the parents of other children feeling uneasy with what they view as a “male” using the same restrooms as their daughters, when other options are available. However, I also agree that this would be a tremendous event to expose children to transgendered individuals, helping to shatter the taboo that surrounds them.
I was shocked to find that only a mere three months ago, the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from the DSM-5. Though this wasn’t highly publicized, a man who expressed himself as a woman was considered to be “mentally ill”. This sort of labeling isn’t new to members of the LGBT community, who only saw homosexuality brought off the list of mental illnesses in the 1970’. It is disheartening to myself, as a young American, that such an educated society cannot accept someone for the sex they self-identify as. I hope, that one day, America can realize it is not the individual who is “mentally ill” but the society we live in. We are sick, and our treatment is not medication nor therapy but exposure and empathy towards other human beings struggling, like ourselves, to find some peace in their identity.