Justice for Junior

Kiely Macdowell (11th), Reporter

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Millions of people all around the world identify as transgender, from parents to grandparents. Regardless of who they are, they’re united by their sexual identity.

Transgender is somewhat of an umbrella term, describing someone who doesn’t identify as the sex assigned to them at birth. Even though the word transgender has just recently surfaced in the late 20th century, people from decades ago would have related to this definition.

Many celebrities, like Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox, publicly identify as transgender. But there aren’t many Americans who personally know someone that is transgender. However, as years progress, the number is quickly growing.

Identifying as transgender doesn’t just mean that you don’t relate to the gender you were assigned to at birth.  Some identify as transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, agender or anything else not related the gender assigned to them at birth. Many take hormones or even have surgery performed to help with their transition, but others don’t. If they don’t undergo surgery or take hormones, most just identify as female or male.

Even though the number of those who identify as transgender are rising, they still encounter many issues.

The transgender community lacks legal protection which can also mean discrimination amongst them, often leading to unemployment. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 15 percent of respondents live in severe poverty and make $10,000 or less per year. Without being able to afford basic living necessities, many transgender people become homeless or begin to engage in underground economies like selling drugs that can result in danger or arrest.

Another important issue transgenders run into a majority of the time is harassment and anti-transgender violence and discrimination. Recently in Red Bluff, California, a 12 year old transgender fluid student at Berrendos Middle School was kicked off the school’s boy basketball team because she requested to use the girl’s restrooms and locker rooms. Transgender fluid means that the child was assigned male at birth but identifies as both male and female, and uses both male and female pronouns.

Junior White was apart of the boy’s basketball team until his parents received a letter from the Antelope School District superintendent Richard Hassay that said Junior would be allowed to use the schools’ girls facilities. However, Hassay overstepped his boundaries and said “Junior is no longer eligible to participate on male only athletics, including basketball. Junior will be eligible to participate on co-ed or female only teams.”

AB 1266, is a bill that allows students to participate on sports teams regardless of their gender. It doesn’t specify that the gender of a student’s athletics team must be consistent with the locker room they choose to use.

This resulted in Junior not using any restrooms on campus because she wasn’t comfortable using the boys restroom. One day, it was impossible to avoid, so she walked into the girls restroom and that’s when everything took a turn for the worse.

She was reported to the principal and called out of class. Junior was told that she was not allowed to use any of the boys and girls restrooms on campus, only the one in the office. Junior’s parents received word of this and became livid. They fought back, but that’s when they were informed that Junior would only be allowed in girls restrooms and not allowed to play on the boys basketball team.

Junior’s teammates want him back on the team, but both the superintendent and principal refuse to let it happen at the moment, so for now, Junior has to sit on the sidelines and watch his teammates play.

It has gotten so out of hand that a parent has harassed him at a basketball game. When Junior walked into the girls restroom, a parents told her she was never allowed to use a girls restroom again.

On Twitter, the hashtag #ISTANDWITH34 is meant to support Junior’s struggles over the past few months, with 34 designating his uniform number on both the basketball and football teams.  

Identifying as transgender is hard as it is, but there is no need to discriminate or treat others badly due to different views. Being open and non judgmental towards people who identify as transgender is paramount to a tolerant society.

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