By Jillian Page
LGBT Perspectives editor
“Protest staged over transgender student’s right to use girl’s locker room”
Well, they got the verb right.
Say what you will about the dubious quality of reporting in a Fox 2 News article out of St. Louis on Monday, the headline writer called it like it was: The protest by Hillsboro High School students — some for, some against a tran’s students rights — was definitely “staged” for maximum publicity.
But who were the stage directors?
Unlike most exercises in democracy at the student level, which are usually organized by student councils, this one was probably inspired by grown-ups, if not orchestrated by them.
As the Fox article points out, parents have been voicing their opposition to trans student Lila Perry using the school’s facilities for girls, most recently at a school board meeting last week at which the subject wasn’t even on the agenda.
It’s unclear exactly how many of the 200 students were protesting against Lila Perry and how many were showing their support — but give the ones who were showing support some credit for standing up for what they believe in. We’re not sure if the kids in opposition to Lila were standing up for their beliefs or for mommy and daddy’s beliefs.
But what about Lila? Other reports I saw mentioned that she didn’t actually participate in the simultaneous rallies outside Hillsboro High School: she was kept inside by authorities, who feared for her safety.
Apparently, she has withdrawn from gym class so that she won’t have to use the girls’ locker room, but still plans to use the girls’ washroom. And that is what has been, umm, pissing off some parents and, supposedly, the kids who demonstrated against Lila. (“Demonstrated” is, perhaps, a bit of an exaggeration, judging by pictures like the one above I’ve seen of the kids milling about, and sitting outside the school.)
What about the real issue here? Lila came out as trans last school year and has been using gender-neutral facilities at the school. This year, she wanted to use the girls’ facilities. Opponents feel she hasn’t done enough to prove she is a transgender person, saying that the mere act of donning a wig and a dress isn’t enough: she supposedly hasn’t (yet) taken any medical steps to transition.
Lila and her supporters, on the other hand, are standing up for a principle. It’s enough that Lila self-identifies as female and is presenting that way. What’s underneath her dress is irrelevant.
It’s an argument echoed across the land, in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. Just who is a transwoman and who is simply a cross-dressing male? Should there be medical criteria for a transwoman to have the rights and facility privileges of other women? Or is a simple declaration enough?
Lila probably would have preferred not to be the main character in this particular drama. And she need not have been had the dissenting parents and their children shown more tolerance. But sometimes people are cast into roles they least expected — or wanted.
But how might this drama unfold?
In the interests of keeping the peace, she could agree to use gender-neutral facilities at the school, and emerge intact from all of this. Or she could continue to fight — and be used by both sides to further their agendas, as well as by the media to draw clicks to their sites.
If she chooses the latter route, which would no doubt give her some minutes of fame if not fortune, the outcome of this stage drama is not so predictable, because there is no way of knowing which new characters might appear — and what they might do.
According to the Fox News report, Lila says “she’s been attacked on social media and fears bullying and violence if she were to start using the boys’ restroom now.”
Indeed, she may very well face the same treatment when she uses the girls’ facilities.
One can only imagine the pressure she is under right now — from both sides in the debate. How very sad that adults would put any child in that situation.
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey