The Trump administration waded into the middle of a social debate which has dominated the news cycle in the states of North Carolina and Texas for months — where transgender students can go to the bathroom.

With the stroke of a pen, President Trump overturned an Obama-era letter that prohibited discrimination on the sexual orientation. In practical terms, it means that trans students can no longer use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

It’s an issue that has roiled state officials in North Carolina and Texas who had passed laws forcing students to use bathrooms according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Read more: Texas Pushes Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill, Says It’s ‘Right Thing to Do'

President Obama, in the form of a letter from the Office of Civil Rights, had put in place a regulation in May 2016 that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the letter read, providing protection to trans students in all 50 states.

Trump’s letter, issued Wednesday, reversed that protection, leaving trans students unprotected under Title IX, which calls for gender equality in schools.

Image: Flickr/Ted Eytan

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In the letter, the Trump administration noted that “this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.” 

The response to Trump’s letter from trans activists and others was strong. Trending hashtags #ProtectTransKids, #ProtectTransLives, and #StandWithGavin all garnered an outpouring of support from trans people and allies. 

The final of those hashtags referred to activist Gavin Grimm, who is bringing a case to the Supreme Court concerning his right to use the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity. 

From actress, producer, and activist Laverne Cox to the American Civil Liberties Union, people and organizations of all stripes came together to offer solidarity to trans students who fear their rights are being trampled upon.  

The ACLU vowed to step up to protect Title IX and students' rights. 

Singer Ashley Tisdale expressed her support. 

Jackie Evancho, who sang at Trump's inauguration, urged the president to meet with her and her sister to discuss transgender rights. 

Singer Christina Perri also expressed her support.  

And many, many others showed solidarity with the trans community. 


Demand Equity

Bathroom Ruling Sparks an Outpouring of Support for Trans Children

By Phineas Rueckert