Op-Ed Regarding Current Transgender Issues

The Obama administration's letter requesting that all schools permit transgender students to use the restroom and locker room that matches their gender identity is a definite move in the right direction. With controversy brewing over North Carolina's bathroom law, Obama's directive is helping to elevate the very important issue of transgender rights to the national stage.

Gov. Gary Herbert's statement Friday calling the letter one of the most "egregious examples of federal overreach" he has ever experienced is extremely disappointing. Also troubling was his assertion that the state of Utah will be more than happy to fight the federal government in court over this issue. Look at how well it worked out when the state, in total denial of reality, spent $1.2 million taxpayer dollars to defend the state's unconstitutional same-sex marriage ban. Not complying with the request will also put federal funding for Utah schools in jeopardy, forcing the state to make up the difference. So much for fiscal conservatism, huh?

This is a non-issue, pure and simple. Transgender individuals have been using public restrooms for many years. Nothing is gained and much is lost from instituting such bans on them. Members of the transgender community already experience an outrageously high amount of discrimination from the public and family members. State-sponsored discrimination is something they most definitely do not need. We should be working to stop discrimination against transgender Americans, rather than giving the haters more ammunition with anti-trans bathroom laws.

Let us remember the wise words of former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas: "A people who extend civil liberties only to preferred groups start down the path either to dictatorship of the right or the left." Governing based on phantom fears and denying an entire community their basic rights is not a healthy way to run a democratic republic. I urge Gov. Herbert to reconsider his position and pledge to work with the Obama administration to help make our schools a safer place for transgender students. It's the right thing to do.


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