#5: Gender and Transgender Inequality. Otherwise known as “the Straight Pride Effect”

#5 Gender and Transgender Inequality. Otherwise known as “the Straight Pride Effect”

 

I have decided to shift my topic slightly from the cause of the situation (gender stereotypes) to the effect (gender inequality). This issue is unfortunately very prominent in Vermont- particularly in the area of equality of transgender persons. There have been several serious instances relating to this topic, including one which appeared in the New York Times, such was  its magnitude. This story involved a case of

One day, at the Green Mountain high school, in Vermont, AJ Jackson (a transgender student) went into the boys’ bathroom. Later, an unnamed student complained that a “a girl in boys’ clothing”  had come into the bathroom, saying this was unacceptable. The principal then proceeded to ask the transgender student to use one of the gender neutral bathrooms in the school, far out of his way to class.

Outraged, many of his friends and sympathizers walked out of school the next school day. However, their disagreements were soon put to rest. The Obama administration sent out a national directive saying that transgender students should be free to use the bathroom of their chosen gender.  This was further backed by a letter sent to Green Mountain from the superintendent saying that transgender persons should be able to choose the bathroom that they use.

In the face of this development however, there was an insurrection among students who disagreed with this. They claimed that the small number of gay, lesbian, and transgender students at the school were unfairly overcoming the majority of students to dictate the rules of school behavior. This movement was lead in part by two students named Tanner Bischofberger and Mariah Lique. This movement prompted one of the parents of these students to order t-shirts bearing the words : “straight pride.” In turn, the group of students agreeing with the Obama Administration objected to this, and so on.The debate over this topic has turned quite nasty on many fronts including social media and within the school itself. One particularly striking event was someone taping a note to a trash can saying: “reserved for Mariah and Tanner.”

 

The question in everyone’s  mind is: who is right? I will state my opinion here. If anyone wishes to disagree with me, please do so respectfully. I believe that people have the right to choose who they want to be. If we are worried about transgender persons viewing others in the bathroom in a sexual way, why don’t homosexual people have to use the bathroom of the opposite gender? If not, what is the reason for these complaints? Tradition? Traditions change as times change, and that is a natural and beneficial fact of life. Times have certainly changed, and so have people. Our social standards need to change too so that transgender persons are treated equally, fairly, and respectfully.

Another important local issue is  gender equality in Vermont politics. Even though this is a huge problem, it is rarely addressed. Four states in the country have never elected a woman to congress. Vermont is one of them. Vermont has only had one female governor: Madeleine Kunin. One out of six executive officers is female: Beth Pearce, Treasurer. One out of eight elected mayors is female:  Liz Gamache, mayor of St. Albans. According to VTDigger.org:

“Representation 2020’s report assigned a gender parity score to each of the 50 states. The score measures women’s electoral success at the local, state and national level on a scale of zero to 100. A score of 50 would indicate that women and men are equally represented.”

And do you want to know what Vermont’s female score was? 11. Eleven. Once. Undici. Elf. עלף. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM!!!! Obviously women are not being given equal chances to be successful in government. There also may be a mindset that some woman have that females are unfit for politics. This needs to change. We need to alter people’s mindset about female politicians via education, and make it clear to all that women are just as able to lead as men. My big question is: how else can we open people’s eyes and allow people to see this? I will continue to research this, but please also give me ideas in your comments. Thanks!

And in general, women should have as many opportunities to be successful as transgender persons, who should have as many as men (in any order), as well as everyone being treated with equal respect. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Vermont, and this needs to change. As fast as we can make it do so.

 

Sources:

Hartocollis, Anemona. “Transgender Bathroom Debate Turns Personal at a Vermont High School.” Nytimes.com. New York Times, 17 May 2016. Web. 8 Oct. 2016.

Krantz, Laura. “Vermont Gets Low Marks on Gender Equity in Elective Office.” VTDigger.com. VTDigger, 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.

 

Theo Wells-Spackman

2 Responses to “#5: Gender and Transgender Inequality. Otherwise known as “the Straight Pride Effect”

  • Theo,
    I happen to have a very close connection to the issue of women and government in Vermont: my mom! She is the Executive director of Emerge Vermont, an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. You should check out the website here (http://www.emergevt.org/), and if you decide to pursue this topic (or even if you don’t), I’m sure she would LOVE to talk to you! She is all too aware of the statistics you presented, and she and the rest of the Emerge team are working hard to change them.
    I also personally agree with your opinions, and really appreciate hearing them come from a boy! Advocating for women’s rights shouldn’t just be confined to women, and I’m glad you agree.
    -Greta

  • Theo,
    First off, another fantastic post.
    I was very interested in the report you mentioned from Representation 2020. As a State that is so strongly blue- in fact, the most democratic state in the country (http://www.gallup.com/poll/188969/red-states-outnumber-blue-first-time-gallup-tracking.aspx), one would expect Vermont to be on the leading edge of equality and rights. Especially considering that Vermont is a well-known haven for the LGBTQ+ community, I am always surprised to hear news of events like those at Green Mountain High.
    Your closing statement made me wonder- what do you foresee yourself doing to help change the state of equality in Vermont? I think there are some important things in the work right now that you could help bring more light and attention to, and could make some serious change with.

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