Mocking, insulting, and criticizing a transgender person’s body, reproductive organs and genitalia is sexual harassment. Period. When male students discuss my daughter’s body parts, whether to her face or behind her back, I call it what it is, sexual harassment. We teach our daughters that they do not have to tolerate unwanted comments about their bodies. If a fellow student, specifically a male one, made derogatory comments about a cis girl’s breasts and vagina it would be labeled sexual harassment. Why don’t we say the same thing when our trans girls, or trans boys or nonbinary children are subjected to the same type of insults?
I am angry.
I am outraged.
I am scared.
What will it take to push these male students, who feel entitled to belittle someone like Stella for her gender identity, to resort to violence? If eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen-year-old kids feel emboldened to verbally attack my daughter, with such distain and vulgarity, the tipping point to sexual and physical violence is easy.
One in four females and one in six males will experience sexual assault by the age of eighteen.
It is our responsibility to change these statistics. We do that by naming acts of sexual harassment and intimidation. We do this by holding this type of behavior accountable. By being concise and transparent about what is acceptable and unacceptable. Change happens when we hold school administrators, teachers, and school districts accountable for setting cultural norms and expectations. It is their responsibility to establish and maintain safety and inclusion in classrooms, school buildings and district wide.
In the state of Washington, there are RCW codes outlining protections for gender identity, sexual orientation, harassment, intimidation, and bullying. (Malicious harassment, Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying) These laws set a foundation and boundaries on acceptable and safe behavior. Transgender people are a protected class in Washington State. It is the duty and responsibility of school districts to train and equip their employees to maintain safe learning environments, in alignment to the law. Students and their families shouldn’t be put in the position of needing to be the expert in RCW codes on student safety. That responsibility is in the hands of district superintendents across the state.
Regardless if a student is cisgender or transgender, their reproductive organs are NOT up for discussion. EVER.
If you are a parent, or guardian, of a student harassing their peers’ gender identity and/or sexual identity with degrading and harmful comments, I promise to do everything in my power to change laws and policies to hold your children accountable. My patience is wearing thin. I will always defer to increasing awareness and education about the gender and LGBTQ spectrums first. If that does not persuade you, I will do everything in my power to send the strongest message possible to any and every person who tries to use their power to diminish and degrade my transgender daughter and every other human like her.
We WILL NOT be silenced.