On January 20, Connecticut House Republicans proposed a bill that would “require public school educators to recognize each student by the biological gender of such student.”
Before I even address the transphobic intentions, I want to point out one glaring issue here: the idea that an educator would know a student’s biological sex.
Prior to puberty, kids lack secondary sex traits (i.e. breasts and body hair). While clothed, there is no real way to tell what biological sex they are. In fact, the only way to know for sure what biological sex a clothed child is would be to look at their genitals. I am sure we can all agree that it is inappropriate for school professionals to check children’s genitals.
Before you tell me this argument is ridiculous, let me tell you a story from my childhood. I was born female and identify as a woman. When I was a kid, I had my hair cut very short. Any time I wore something gender-neutral, like jeans and a t-shirt, adults would mistake me for a boy until I corrected them. Short of checking inside my pants, these adults would have had no reliable way to confirm whether I was biologically male or female. Luckily, the adults I knew respected me enough to use “she” and “her” pronouns after being corrected.
Now for the transphobic bit. Evidence has shown us over and over that affirming children’s gender identities leads to better mental health outcomes. A study published by JAMA shows that adolescents who receive gender-affirming care have a 60% lower risk of depression and a 73% reduction in suicidality. On the other hand, having even one supportive adult in their life can lower an LGBTQ+ teen’s risk of suicide by 40%. Why would politicians want to prevent our school professionals from being that person?
While we can be pretty sure this bill won’t pass, since we have a Democratic majority in the house and senate, this bill is meant to be a statement from Republicans: “If we were in power here, this is what we would do.” These are people who, for whatever reason, fear people different from themselves.
While I am sure this bill will make the reasonable people among us angry, I implore you to keep your cool. Name-calling and talking down to people will not help. I ask that you educate others. Research the studies and statistics. Listen to stories told by trans people. Then, share these with people you know who have also fallen victim to fear. Fear is incredibly powerful, and the best way to alleviate it is to educate.
Kimberly Adamski is a Sex Educator in West Hartford.