Federal Texas Judge Blocks Obama’s Transgender Bathroom Order Just As The School Year Starts

A federal judge in Texas is perpetuating transphobia by temporarily blocking Obama’s directive on transgender bathrooms, siding with all the school districts that oppose the order. Marking no small coincidence, this all went down right before schools in Texas kicked off the new school year Monday.

For those unfamiliar, the directive Obama presented in May merely stated that trans students should be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their identified gender. When he presented the ruling, there was an explicit threat that federal funding would be cut from schools that didn’t follow the new rule. A letter posted on the Department of Justice’s website warned of the possible funding withdrawals for schools denying transgender rights, saying: “As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations.

The reigning U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor had the support of Texas and 12 other states who claimed Obama’s directive was unconstitutional, as well as Republican state leaders who believed schools should have been able to sort themselves before Obama’s directive was presented in May. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that many schools were already taking blatant action against the rights of trans students, which is their version of weighing in.

In his long-winded 38-page order, Judge O’Connor claimed federal agencies had overstepped their authority and Obama’s ruling ignored Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which stresses the right for students of “both sexes” to receive equal amenities. He wrote in his ruling:

“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex in that law meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth. Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex.”

As with most of the politicians opposing trans bathroom rights, O’Connor’s rhetoric seems to willfully misunderstand that being a trans girl or boy just means you are a girl or boy who wasn’t born cis. To equate a trans girl using the same bathroom as a cis girl with boys and girls “being mixed” blatantly ignores what it means to be trans.

North Carolina Clashes With U.S. Over New Public Restroom Law
CREDIT: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

So what does this mean for the schools in Texas (and 12 other states) that are charging ahead in their war against progress? The full financial implications have yet to be determined, but it could mean Texas alone will lose $10 billion in school funding.