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As a Westford citizen and mother, I support Westford students using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, and I applaud the School Committee for taking up this important issue. Unfortunately, federal law does not robustly support transgender rights, and it is up to local and state government to fill in the gaps to ensure the safety and well-being of this vulnerable population.
Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals are frequent targets of harassment and abuse. For statistics on this, please see the Office of Victims of Crime (https://www.ovc.gov/pubs/
forge/sexual_numbers.html) and the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (http://www.transequality.org/ issues/national-transgender- discrimination-survey).
I understand that some citizens are concerned that students will exploit the transgender policy to get into a forbidden bathroom or locker room. It’s possible, and those situations should be dealt with—and disciplined—on an individual basis. I am more concerned, however, with the safety and wellbeing of trans and gender-nonconforming students. This policy will not allow boys to use the girls’ room and vice-versa; rather, it will allow all girls to access the girls’ room and all boys to access the boys’ room.
Finally, as medical science progresses and uncovers more information about genetics, it is becoming clearer that biological sex is not the simple, two-category distinction that it was once believed to be. Although most women have two X chromosomes and most men have an X and Y, according to the World Health Organization, there are individuals who possess only one sex chromosome, as well as individuals who possess three or more in various combinations of X and Y (http://www.who.int/genomics/
gender/en/index1.html) . Certainly it would be foolish and impossible to check the genome of every student—and even then, epigenetic factors may play a role.
Perhaps it’s best to simply believe what they tell us. — Karen Amis, Westford, Mass.