A US federal appeals court agrees with a Florida school’s anti-trans bathroom policy, banning trans children from using their preferred bathroom.

A federal appeals court has decided to support a transphobic bathroom policy in a Florida school. Seven people voted in favour and only four against it. The court of appeals ruled that the school of St. Johns County in Northeast Florida did not violate the human rights of student Drew Adams when demanding he use the women’s facilities. This is after Adams came out as a trans man. The court also decided that the school’s policy did not violate the US Constitution’s equal protection clause.

Trans Student Files Lawsuit Over Anti-Trans Bathroom Policy

Adams had filed his lawsuit in 2017. He argued that the bathroom – and other gendered facilities – policy at his school discriminated against trans people. Their policy abides by the student’s sex assigned at birth, ignoring any amended birth certificates or identification documents. Adams rightfully claimed that the school’s policy went against Title IX. Title IX is a civil rights law protecting LGBTQ+ students from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

However, the judge Barbara Lagoa disagreed. She stated that the gendered bathroom policy exists to ‘shield [students’] bodies from the opposite sex’. The judge’s decision centred on Adams’ genitalia, insisting that he was still ‘biologically and anatomically identical to biological females’ while he attended school.

Why is it still acceptable to focus on trans people’s genitalia in a federal court? It is incredibly invasive and disgusting to focus on a young adult’s genitalia to make an overused, transphobic claim. With a few exceptions, such as religion, the bathroom segregation of men and women, boys and girls does not serve anyone. Both cis and trans women are still being harassed and attacked by cis men on a daily basis. Violence happens whether or not you claim a specific space to be male or female only.

US Court Rules in Favour of Transphobic Bathroom Policy

The seven people who agreed with Florida’s school’s anti-trans bathroom policy were appointed by Republican presidents. However, the four against it were nominated by Democrats. Adams’ judge had been nominated by former President Donald Trump. It should therefore come to no surprise that she ruled in favour of transphobia. She has also been an advocate speaker for the Federalist Society. They are one of the groups who helped initiate the movement to overturn Roe v Wade – another basic human right at stake.

The federal appeals court’s decision contradicts previous rulings that confirm trans students like Adam are protected under Title IX. This case might go to the Supreme Court on appeal. However, it is currently unclear whether Adams’ legal team will retreat rather than try to convince a right-leaning court to agree with them. One of Adams’ legal representatives stated that they will be ‘reviewing and evaluating this dangerous decision’.

Florida’s transphobic bathroom policy further aids in the marginalisation and discrimination of trans children in Florida. Once again, we are dealing with the on-going and ridiculous bathroom debate. Debating over which public toilet trans people should use is nonsensical and harmful only towards trans people. In addition, the judge’s anti-trans rhetoric directly affects the wider LGBTQ+ community who have seen an array of anti-trans laws in the past years.

More Anti-Trans Policies in Place

In May of 2022, Oklahoma’s Republican governor signed a bill into law banning trans children from using their preferred bathroom. This bill requires all trans students to use gendered facilities, such as bathrooms, changing rooms, showers, that match their sex assigned at birth.

Shortly thereafter, in September of the same year, a trans girl and her family filed a lawsuit against another US school over a bathroom access ban. The 14 year old sued the Dakota School District after they enforced an anti-trans policy. The trans teenager was banned from using her preferred bathroom, locker room and even from competing in the girls’ track team.

Conservative parents and students had expressed concerns over a trans girl joining the girls’ sport’s team. They suggested all trans kids join a separate division, to compete among themselves. As a result, the school board members united to overturn Section 7:10. This section allows equal opportunities for trans students.

Moreover, a 2022 More in Common survey found that only one third (29%) of British people were of the opinion that trans women who had not undergone gender-affirming surgery should be allowed to use the women’s bathroom. The number of participants almost doubled (53%) when asked the same question, however, with a postoperative trans woman in mind.

The survey proves that there are two anti-trans beliefs in play here. The first is the belief that trans people should not use their preferred bathroom. This transphobic notion discriminates especially against trans women who are seen as a supposed threat to cis women’s safety. The other is that trans people only deserve more basic respect and human rights when they have gone through gender-affirming surgeries.

Stop Telling Trans People What Bathroom to Use

Fears around trans people using public bathrooms is dictated by prejudice and ignorance – not facts. Trans people pose no harm to cis people. It is actually often the opposite. Trans people are the ones experiencing abuse and violence for wanting to access the correct bathroom. A study done by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law even confirms that there is NO DIRECT LINK between trans-inclusive bathroom policies and the safety of cis people.

Trans people, in particular trans kids and adolescents, should be allowed to use the bathroom they desire to! Trans people experience a disproportionate amount of violence and are most certainly not trying to harm anyone else by being their authentic selves.