The Gender Mess

Girls like pink, boys like blue. Or at least, that’s what we’ve been told all of our lives. But in more recent years, it has become apparent that our socially constructed ideas of gender will not continue to hold the same standards they once held.
As a child, I wasn’t fully aware of who I was, or what I was to become until I was around the age of four. At that time, I could confidently say that I was a girl, and because of that, I had certain responsibilities and roles that I needed to fulfill. I wore dresses and skirts, because that’s what little girls do. And I always used the “Ladies” room when I needed to go to the bathroom. Life was simple. Today, a child of the same age might not be as carefree.
Towards the end of February of this year, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education issued orders to the state’s K-12 public schools, which will require them to allow students to decide which locker room, bathroom and changing facility they desire to use, as long as they claim that gender as their own. This new proposition will allow transgender or “gender-nonconforming” individuals the rights of selection, as well as protecting them from discrimination in relation to these areas. This initiative was presented as an eleven-page paper that was a collaboration of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and many homosexual and transgender advocacy groups. Other states are beginning to view similar arguments and proposals as the year progresses.
The idea of a law forcing children to become responsible for deciding their gender has left many speechless. An even more shocking aspect of these possible changes is that it could very well force less-capable facilities to allow boys as old as 14 years old to use restrooms with girls as young as five. The only thing a child must say in order to use a particular restroom is that they are of that gender; no doctor’s note or parent’s permission is necessary due to the personal nature of this matter.
This new proposal may lead to less protection for heterosexual students, many of whom may be uncomfortable with the new policies. If a girl is uncomfortable with sharing her changing room with a boy, and speaks up about this discomfort, she may be prosecuted as a “bully.” Her silent compliance and discomfort would be the easier route to take. Many concerned individuals are simply asking for the protection of both sides in the situation.
It is necessary for equality in all aspects of our society, however, there is a greater need for protecting each individual involved in this situation. Who is to say that a girl may not be violated by having to share a shower with a boy who seems to want to explore his feminine side for a day? Who would be protecting her in that instance? Or, who is to tell a boy that he is a boy who needs to use the “Men’s Room,” when he does not agree with this diagnosis? Who would be protecting his rights?
I believe that a possible aid to this issue would be to install new bathrooms in addition to the so-called traditional “boy” and “girl” rest-rooms. These new bathrooms would be gender-mutual friendly, allowing each participant to be protected from both inequality and discomfort.
This situation is a delicate one which arises in many different forms. However, it needs to be faced head-on, and all sides of the argument need to be heard and evenly weighed.

The Washington Post
Worcester Telegram and Gazette

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