Karen Dolan and her daughter Grace were thrilled when President Barack Obama made national headlines for standing up for transgender students and issuing guidance to public schools on the best ways to respect the gender identity of all students. In fact, the Department of Education had invited Grace to provide insight and feedback on what the guidance should cover, drawing on her experience as a young transgender girl. They were disappointed when the Trump administration rescinded the guidance in 2017.
While she had faced challenging situations and confrontations with school administrators at a previous school, Grace has had a positive experience in DC Public Schools. The school system has a robust and gender-inclusive policy – but Grace and her mother understand that not all students are so fortunate. “Where we feel badly is that people are at the mercy of their zip code,” Karen said. “If you don’t live in states with strong protections, then what happens to you? That’s the really sad piece of this. So many people can’t just pick up and move somewhere else – they have jobs and communities and homes. That’s not a solution. When your human rights are being violated, you shouldn’t be required to leave your community – that’s not what our Constitution stands for. It’s fundamentally discriminatory.”