Appeals Court Rules Transgender Students Can Use Gender Identity Bathrooms

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a previous ruling that allows transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. The ruling comes after two school districts appealed lower court decisions that require the school district to allow the students to use the bathroom they are most comfortable using.

The court combined two cases on appeal concerning the same policy and used a previous decision from the same court to deny the school board from instituting a policy that would have required three students who are biologically female from using male bathrooms and changing facilities.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel found that the harm done to the students by the policy violated their civil rights and ordered the districts to abandon the policy. The ruling is just the latest decision that gives transgender students the right to decide what facilities they wish to use based on the gender they identify with.

In both cases, no students raised complaints over the transgender student’s use of the bathroom, however, school officials threatened to punish the students for using the boy’s bathroom. Both schools had allowed the students to use unisex bathrooms located in the health building, but in both cases, the students found the facilities to be inconvenient.

In the last several years, a flood of litigation has crafted new rights for transgender students, even allowing biologically male students to compete in female sports.

Children who are transgender are typically diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a recognized mental illness that causes the child to “feel” like they are the opposite gender. Often, these children will dress and act as the opposite sex, frequently using opposite-gender pronouns or non-descriptive pronouns. All three students in the Indiana case began transitioning to the opposite gender at a very young age. Laws in the state prevent surgical alterations but do allow gender-affirming medical treatments that include hormone therapy.

The court’s ruling will prevent the schools from enforcing policies meant to provide safe spaces for non-transgender students who may feel threatened using the restroom with non-gender students. In some cases, the policies have led to students experiencing the mental effects of previous assaults, however, the courts have consistently placed the welfare of transgender students before the rest of the school population.

Mental health experts estimate that about 0.005% of the population suffers from gender dysphoria.