BREAKING: Trump Administration Rescinds Federal Guidance Protecting Transgender Students February 22, 2017

Just now, the Department of Justice in tandem with the Department of Education released a “Dear Colleague” letter rescinding guidance that affirmed non-discrimination protections for transgender students.

In May 2016, the Obama Administration circulated a letter which instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms that match the gender they live every day.

This guidance was non-binding, and sought merely to clarify what growing case study has found, which is that discrimination against transgender students (including restricting their restroom access) is prohibited under Title IX non-discrimination protections on the basis of sex.

Ultimately, the Obama Administration’s guidance was more a symbolic gesture than a marching order, and it sent the message to transgender students: We affirm your basic dignity, we will defend your civil rights, and we will work to ensure you have the same opportunities to succeed and participate fully at school that your peers enjoy everyday.

The Trump Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter sends the exact opposite message.

This is a shameful step backward that ultimately has no real impact on Title IX protections for transgender students. Rescinding guidance protecting transgender students serves only to stigmatize and degrade a group of young people who are already some of the most vulnerable to bullying, harassment, mental illness, and even suicide.

And in the wake of the first-ever hearing on #TransBillNH (HB 478), which was dominated by testimony from transgender students and their families, educators, and administrators—the contrast is stark.

In an emotional testimony, Linda Fishbaugh told members of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee yesterday that she didn’t believe her transgender daughter, Emily, would be here today if she was still living as a boy.

Other testifiers said they support #TransBillNH because they want to know their transgender children are safe and protected from harm, and that they have access to equal opportunity and a fair shot at success—the same as their peers.

Testimony from the transgender teens in the room was a highlight of the day for everyone who attended the hearing. Acting chair, Rep. Lebrun, allowed for attendees to break decorum and the code of silence to applaud after each of the transgender teens gave their heartfelt statements.

Transgender educators and administrators also spoke in support of #TransBillNH, highlighting instances of workplace harassment, which threaten their livelihood. For Shana Aisenberg, a music teacher at The Community School, discrimination in the past has cost her job.

Right now, lawmakers have a profound opportunity to chart a new course for New Hampshire. While #TransBillNH does not include non-discrimination protections for transgender students at school, it would insure their future by protecting their right to find work, to put a roof over their heads, and to participate fully in public life without constant fear of discrimination.

#TransBillNH sends a message to transgender students—the future of New Hampshire’s vibrant communities—and all transgender Granite Staters that their lives matter, that they are worthy of respect, and that they can rely on state law to protect them.

In the wake of the Trump administration’s anti-transgender guidance, the need for non-discrimination protections for our transgender community members is as urgent as ever. #TransBillNH has gotten a positive recommendation from the HHS Committee and now moves to the House of Representatives for a full vote. Click here to send a message to your Representatives urging them to support #TransBillNH and advance this important legislation to the Senate.