Title IX Isn’t the Answer to Gender Discrimination

(TW: Brief discussion of suicide)

The Washington Post reports that the state of Texas has begun its court case against the federal government for setting guidelines about treatment of transgender students. The Department of Education has stated that because Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for institutions that receive federal funding, that discrimination towards transgender individuals is also illegitimate.

This decision, while not having the impact of law, can seriously impact the amount of federal aid that certain institutions receive from the government. One institution in particular are schools where many safety and privacy concerns have been stated by various groups.

Texas similarly is, “Citing privacy and safety concerns surrounding the use of student bathrooms, lockers and other facilities…”

But as it’s been stated time and time out, if anyone is in danger then it is the transgender students themselves. Recently a new study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), with a sample of over 15,000 anonymous students, showed that “…about 2 percent … gay or lesbian, 6 percent … bisexual and 3 percent … weren’t sure of their sexual identity.”

This meant, “…of the 16 million students who attended public and private high schools last year, roughly 321,000 were gay or lesbian and 964,000 were bisexual…” And the differentials in the results were often staggering with, “More than 1 in 4 said they had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months. In contrast, about 1 in 16 straight kids reported recent suicide attempts.”

But Texas is also claiming that, “…Title IX explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex but not gender identity … [And that] [a]lthough Congress has added gender identity “next to” sex in other areas of federal law, it has not amended Title IX…”

The Obama administration has responded calling the disagreement an “abstract” one, which is easy for an administration entirely made up of cisgendered individuals to say. But the differences between gender and sex are legitimate to point out, even if the state of Texas is doing it for the wrong reasons.

On the other hand, the Obama administration would probably be right in saying that protecting gender is well within “the spirit” of Title IX. And the fact that Texas fails to note any way in which this new language irreparably harms them is also a factor.

One of the federal attorneys has argued that blocking Title IX could justify inflicting the harms already being inflicted on trans folks. And it could also perpetuate those same harms and make them seem more legitimate. At least Title IX does something to contest the idea that the discrimination that the transgender community must face is legitimate when it isn’t.

But despite this, I remain unconvinced that Title IX is sufficient to protect us from discrimination and injuries to our bodies. It’s surely a step in the right direction insofar as it sends a cultural message that transgender individuals should be respected as much as anyone else. But that message shouldn’t come from a largely cisgendered organization that has historically oppressed transgender individuals.

That isn’t to say nothing good can come of this message but that there are better organizations to push this message and better ways to do it. Hitting schools where they hurt the most already (their pockets) is certainly a big incentive, but it’s also one to inspire much resistance that’ll be blocked off from much transgender involvement.

Many of us are too busy living on the streets, trying to walk home at night, trying to just use the bathroom to go into the courts and present our own lives and stories to judges. Instead, our community will be “represented” by cisgender lawyers who work for an organization that has been treating us as subhumans for decades and only recently showing any shred of decency.

Our communities should rely as little as possible on the organization of government. There’s no good coming from relying on an oppressive organization that benefits from the fruits of our labor through force when we already have so little to lose. We need to look to the radicalism of anarchism for answers on how best to build communities based on mutual aid, self-reliance and a critical look at lawmakers who tell us they only have our best interests at heart.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory