Colorado first grader Coy Mathis can't use the girl's restroom at her elementary school because she has a penis.
Coy identifies as female on her passport and state-issued identification, and she's dressed as a girl for most of last year. But the Fountain-Fort Carson School District decided not to let her use the girls' restrooms because of the precedent that would set; it "took into account not only Coy but other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls' bathroom would have as Coy grew older," attorney W. Kelly Dude, who (clearly) didn't refer to Coy using her preferred pronoun, told CNN. "However, I'm certain you can appreciate that as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls' restroom."
Policies on transgender kids vary around the country; in New York, the law protects students from being discriminated on the basis of how they self-identify, but in Maine, a court recently ruled that a school district was allowed to bar a transgender student from using the girl's restroom. Coy's district says it abides by the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act because Coy can use the boy's bathroom, the gender-neutral faculty bathrooms, or the nurse's bathroom, and because she's allowed to wear girls' clothes and be referred to as a girl. But Coy's parents disagree, and are filing a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, the first of its kind.
I can see the district's point within the context of our culture; kids that grow up unfamiliar with transgender rights or human sexuality in general would probably be uncomfortable knowing there's a person with male genitalia in the bathroom. But that stance inarguably implies that there's something intrinsically wrong with kids like Coy, which isn't okay, especially since it's not like she would be waving her dick around in her peer's faces; she'd be doing her business in a bathroom stall. (And if a girl was acting the same way in the girl's bathroom re: her vagina, that would be an issue, too.)
"Coy's school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy's classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness," said Michael Silverman, one of Coy's lawyers and the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. Exactly. Unless school districts are forced to tackle transgender rights head on — even if it leads to complicated discussions and potentially "uncomfortable" situations — nothing will change.
(image via Katie Couric)