This Isn’t About Bathrooms

public restrooms

Coy Mathis is six-years-old. She is your average adorable first grader, except in February her school decided that she shouldn’t use the girls bathroom. They made their decision based on the fact that Coy is trans* (more specifically, they made the ruling based on the fact that she doesn’t have a vagina).

Coy Mathis identified as a girl long before she started school, and when she began kindergarten the school supported her gender identification. Apparently things changed when she went into the first grade, and the school informed the Mathis family that their sweet little one would need to use the bathrooms in the teachers’ lounge or nurse’s office. The family promptly filed a complaint with the State of Colorado’s civil rights division, and on Monday, they won their case.

Coy can use the girls bathroom according to the ruling, and the division aptly said, “compartmentalizing a child as a boy or a girl solely based on their visible anatomy, is a simplistic approach to a difficult and complex issue.” The ruling is a serious benchmark in the struggle for trans* youth, and the civil rights division does a great job explaining why they ruled in favor of the Mathis family. 

Let’s stop  doing our victory dance for Coy (only momentarily), and talk about bathrooms though. There is no way that this is about bathrooms, right?


This isn’t about bathrooms.

This is about the fear people have when they realize that gender and human anatomy are not binaries, but a spectrum. Putting up placards that say “boys” and “girls” on doors of public restrooms gives people who are terrified of gender-bending a sense of comfort, and the second someone, anyone, challenges those little bathroom placards, shit hits the fan. People are so terrified about bathroom use because it pokes holes in the carefully crafted gender binary that society goes through such great pains to protect.

This isn’t about bathrooms, because let’s be honest, Coy is six, and the only concern about six-year-olds and bathrooms is whether or not they are wiping thoroughly and washing their hands. Six-year-old sexual predators aren’t the concern (a common argument in bathroom politics), gender-policing is the concern.

Congratulations to the Mathis family, especially Coy. We hope this progressive ruling is one small step toward her future safety navigating this world as a trans* woman.

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