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Laura Washington: Trump transgender order ‘about being cruel’

Ed Yohnka with the American Civil Liberties Union speaks as part of the "Not My President's Day" rally near Trump International Hotel on Feb. 20. | Max Herman/Sun-Times

Follow @mediadervishPresident Donald J. Trump has found another “other” to persecute.

For Trump, America is about “us,” and “the other.”

“Us,” Trump’s hardcore supporters, are full of anger at “the other.”

MerriamWebster.com defines “other,” as:

“One (as another person) that is psychologically differentiated from the self.”

And: “one considered by members of a dominant group as alien, exotic, threatening, or inferior (as because of different racial, sexual, or cultural characteristics).

In other words, different from the “real” Americans who will make America great again.

The Trump administration revoked President Barack Obama’s May 2016 recommendation that transgender children and teens have a federal right to use public school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

OPINION

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Obama and many legal experts believe the federal government is legally obliged to ensure that transgender students can use the facilities of their choice. To do otherwise violates Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, Obama said.

Lawsuits followed. Conservative politicians and activists argued Obama’s directive violated the privacy of other children and could encourage sexual predators to invade and terrorize school bathrooms around the nation.

On Wednesday, Trump’s attorney general and education secretary announced that the supervision and care of transgender students in public schools should be left up to the states.

No bathroom invasion has occurred. But transgender students may be terrorized.

Trump’s directive is “about being cruel to children,” said Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for the ACLU of Illinois. It’s an “attempt to take, on a national level, the notion of treating people as ‘others.’ ”

At an emotional press conference in downtown Chicago, Yohnka and other LGBTQ advocates excoriated the new policy. They fear it will create confusion and encourage schools to discriminate.

For some transgender children and youth, to go to school means to face isolation and humiliation.

Yohnka cited the case of Alex McCray, a high school senior in downstate Williamsville. Alex was born as a female, but identifies as male.

At Williamsville High School, Alex was “isolated in a restroom that was up in a second floor, away from everything else, that was dirty that was never cleaned, that often didn’t function,” Yohnka told reporters.

“And then everybody knew the reason he was going in and out of that restroom was because he was a student who was transgender.”

Last year, the ACLU took up Alex’s case and forged an agreement that the school district would institute a policy ensuring Alex and other transgender students could use the facilities of their choice.

“Lives are at stake,” said Owen Daniel-McCarter, executive director of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. “We know that transgender youth are disproportionately at risk” for suicide. They are also “targets for violence, particularly in spaces like restrooms and locker rooms. This is a critical issue for safety for young people.”

The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey found that “77 percent of students who are or perceived to be transgender report being mistreated in K-12 schools. That includes verbal harassment, harsher discipline than their peers, physical violence, and sexual assault,” according to a press statement from Equality Illinois, the LGBTQ rights group.

The Trump administration’s new directive won’t make it easier for “them.”

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