Transgender teens address bathroom concerns

Transgender teens address bathroom concerns

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A  Lowcountry transgender teen says he is frightened for the first time in his life.

Despite a recent Circuit Court Ruling and Federal Education guidelines supporting transgender rights, Berkeley County lawmakers want to keep transgender students in their county from using the bathroom with which they identify.

We talked to a group of transgender teens who said the school bathroom is an important issue.

"When I go to the restaurants and movies or whenever I use a public restroom,  I just use the male restroom,  it's mostly school that gives me the problem," said Luke, a high school student.

Luke has suffered urinary tract infections because he would rather hold it than be singled out at school.

It's not an uncommon health problem among transgender kids.

Often required to use the school nurse's restroom, the teens say those bathrooms are  not near their classes, and being seen going to a different restroom sets them up for bullying.

"It's discrimination times ten, sometimes it's just hard," Riley said.

A Fourth Circuit Court ruled it discrimination, and with newly issued Education Department guidelines, some school districts  are changing the bathroom rules.

Luke's mom, Amy,  explained, "These kids and these grown ups, they just want to use the bathroom-nobody wants to do anything bad in there."

Riley can now use the boy's bathroom at his school, and Sera, the girls restroom in Berkeley County.  She won  the first bathroom battle in this area.  The district earlier denied her request , citing a health department regulation.

But Sera contends there is no such regulation.

"Yeah, good luck-I don't think you're going to  find it." Sera said.  She continued,  " I don't think anyone's going  find it because I don't think it exists."

Sera is popular at school.  But Gabe and his mom say he was so bullied, he now stays home and studies on line.

"It was becoming a very dangerous situation for him physically and emotionally," said Sara, Gabe's mom.  Gabe will  eventually go back to school.  When asked if he is worried about locker room issues, Gabe replied, "That's scary definitely, and I'm very self-conscious about myself , and I'm going do what I can to avoid anything locker room related."

School for Sabian was easier because he had a support group at Wando High School.

But the controversial bathroom bills, here and in North Carolina, are putting these kids front and center.

Sabian said,  "This is the first time I've actually been scared."  He said now he feels like he's being targeted, and said that is a new feeling.

"I can't go to the women's restroom I obviously don't belong there,  so I don't  know what I'll do."  Sabian continued.  " I guess I'll just hold it, I've been doing that since I was a little kid," he said.

A solution for Jay, outside of school,  is to find a Starbucks.

"I usually just hunt down the first gender neutral bathroom I can find just to be safe,"  Jay said.  When asked if that's something he carries with him, Jay replied, "All the time."

Jay says we all  can relate to gender neutral facilities, whether you are a father with a young daughter or a woman with an elderly father, it's not just a transgender convenience.

But these kids don't want to worry about which bathroom they use.  Jay remarked, "I find it's definitely a ridiculous thing considering the fact that they think that we're going to cause issues when  all we have to do it use the restroom."

Amy, Luke's mom supported that, by saying, "If  you're worried about people doing bad things, then there are other kinds of people who need to not be able to use the bathroom."

The group contends the question to consider, is how to enforce a bathroom law.  Melissa Moore of  the support group,  "We Are Family," said, "I don't carry my birth certificate, I don't know how many people do and don't imagine they would have someone checking a person's genitals at the door."  "I would hope not," she continued.

We have checked with both the Charleston County Family Court and the State Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Neither tracks the number of people who have changed the gender on their birth certificates.

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