Unlike Paxton, SG supports gender inclusivity

Jordan Shenhar

This week’s Texan Forum, inspired both by recent Student Government legislation and a nationwide political discussion that grabbed headlines this summer, focuses on transgender and transsexual rights.

Back in March, North Carolina passed a controversial bill that requires people to use the public restrooms which align with their sex at birth, rather than with their gender identity. The ensuing uproar drove a wedge between the state’s political officials and its business community — most notably, the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans in response to the legislation — and endangered the reelection prospects of Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC). Meanwhile, activists have spent much of the past year drawing attention to violence committed against transgender individuals. And in May, the Department of Education and Department of Justice jointly issued a mandate that would have required all federally-funded schools to provide transgender students with access to appropriate facilities. 

Like many other prominent political issues, the debate over transgender rights has a strong Texas bent. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the federal government, seeking to block the Obama Administration’s ordinance, and a federal judge sided with him last month, putting the policy on hold pending further
appeal. Paxton has since sued the Department of Health and Human Services, arguing that its guidelines regarding gender-related healthcare access infringe upon religious liberties. 

One of our Forum contributors this week, Daily Texan columnist Albert Zhao, examines the validity of Paxton’s claims regarding the cost and constitutionality of the HHS regulations. His conclusion should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Paxton’s history of filing legally dubious and politically motivated lawsuits during his first two years in office.

Our guest author this week discusses the issue through a more student-focused lens. University-Wide Representative Ashley Choi recently co-authored an SG resolution urging UT to continue constructing gender-inclusive single-occupancy bathrooms, 32 of which are already installed on campus. New buildings require at least one such facility every five floors — a goal which should be easy to attain in academic buildings, which often have numerous single-occupancy bathrooms anyway. For more information, be sure to check out Choi’s appearance on this week’s Forum podcast.

As always, the Forum team encourages reader feedback, as well as suggestions for which topics and discussions we should highlight in the future. To join the conversation, drop us a line at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!

Shenhar is a Plan II, economics, and government senior from Westport, Connecticut. He is the Forum Editor.