Governor Jerry Brown has just signed AB 1266 into law. It means that transgender students will now be a "protected class."
It seems that any time a new law to protect trans people is passed, discussion goes into the toilet. I mean, literally: Somehow, it always ends up being about the bathrooms.
So, to hear the right-wing sages, a kid could just one day decide he wants to be a girl--or she wants to be a boy--and use the bathroom he or she "chooses".
Let me tell you: It doesn't work that way. I know of no boy who wakes up one day and decides he's a girl--or any girl who begins a new day by trying on the guy thing. If anything, 99 percent of boys don't want, in any way, to be perceived as feminine (as they understand it), much less as girls. Even kids like the one I was will do whatever we can to avoid hearing that we run, throw, kick or do anything else "like a girl."
Girls, on the other hand, are less anxious about being perceived as boyish. Still, not many--if any at all--ever "decide" to be boys.
Those of us born with male bodies do not merely "believe" we are female or choose to be so; we know that is what lies at the essence of our beings. The same can be said for male beings born into female bodies.
AB 1266 is not about allowing kids to use "whatever bathroom they want." It's instead a way of fostering an environment in which a kid can actually learn about who he or she is, and to be given the means (which others will also be given) of understanding it.
When I was growing up, neither I nor any other kid--nor, for that matter, most of the adults--had the means of understanding--the language, if you will--gender identity and expression. One of my earliest school memories is of a hall monitor telling the boys to stand on one line and the girls on the other. If you're reading this, you know which line I stood on, and you can imagine what the consequences were. Telling that monitor--or, most likely, any teacher or the principal in that school--that I was indeed a girl was met by incomprehension, as if I'd spoken a dialect they'd never before heard, or hostility toward what they perceived as my insubordination.
What's really frightening for me to realize is that, in spite of my isolation and the alienation it would engender, I probably had an easier time than other kids with my predicament. What I hope is that AB 1266 and other initiatives will help to ensure that kids growing up today won't have similar experiences.