A bill lurking quietly in the Vermont House of Representatives would let “transgender” students choose opposite-sex programs, activities and facilities regardless of their own biological sex.
Under H.185, traditional gendered sports teams, bathrooms, locker rooms and showers, and more would have no meaningful distinction for boys or girls.
“This bill proposes to provide students access to gender-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities consistent with the individual’s gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s records,” the bill language states.
The bill appears to ignore biological sex entirely, substituting instead “an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity, or gender-related characteristics intrinsically related to an individual’s gender or gender identity, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”
If H.185 becomes law, any student would be allowed to participate in gender-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions. Students would use facilities “consistent with the individual’s gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s records.”
Teachers and administrators have to play along as well. “School teachers and other staff shall address students by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity,” and “schools shall use the name and gender preferred by the student on all official records,” the bill reads.
The only exceptions appear to be health records or other legally required records, which may continue to use the biological sex of the individuals.
The transgender movement is targeting schools and bathrooms nationwide. Last year, the Trump Administration rescinded an Obama-era policy which suggested that all public schools have gender-neutral bathrooms. According to The Federalist writer Nicole Russell, this involved scrappy legal maneuvering with regard to Title IX.
“The Obama administration, armed with specialized attorneys, acted like a pair of amateur surgeons: They took the word ‘sex’ in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, hacked it open with a sledgehammer, shoved ‘gender identity’ inside, then stapled it back up and handed it to the American public education system, mangled and bleeding.”
Opposition to the transgender movement crosses party lines, with unusual alliances including feminist groups aligning with conservatives. Kara Dansky, board chair of the Women’s Liberation Movement, appeared on the Tucker Carlson Show to criticize the left-wing anti-science attack on biological sex distinctions.
“I’m proud to call myself a radical feminist,” she said. “This goes far beyond bathrooms, so when people talk about this as a bathroom bill controversy, it’s really not about that. For us, what the interpretation of sex and gender identity means is actually means is any male who self-identifies as a female can access a women’s bathroom, locker room, changing room, dormitory, and schools.
“But it goes even far beyond that, to redefine women and girls to mean anyone who identifies as a woman or girl for purposes of Title IX, which matters to us because we think women and girls are a meaningful category worthy of civil rights protection.”
The Vermont bill is currently assigned to the House Education Committee but is not currently on the agenda. The Statehouse session’s midpoint, when bills left dormant die for the year, is fast approaching.
Rep. Barbara Rachelson, D-Burlington, the bill’s lead sponsor, did not respond to a request for comment.
Rep. John Killacky, D-South Burlington, a co-sponsor of H.185, said, “All children deserve safety and dignity” in an email to True North.
Rep. Brian Cina, P-Burlington, another co-sponsor, said, “Transgender people deserve to have rights. Whether people like it or not, transgender people exist and they deserve to be treated with dignity.”
Asked whether he thought the bill would survive the crossover deadline, Cina added that he didn’t think so.