As of Monday morning, immediately, all schools on U.S. military bases anywhere in the world are to allow openly transgender students to use any bathroom or locker room – of their choosing.
a transgender student of a U.S. Airman at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is allowed to use the girls bathroom after initially being denied access to it, according to the Department of Defense.
The 11 year-old transgender student, who goes by the name Blue, was going to be allowed access to the girls’ bathroom after being given permission by the principal of Ramstein Intermediate School.
Dr. Elizabeth Dunham, the superintendent of schools Europe East region of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), then overturned the decision. The family was told that the DODEA was working on a transgender policy still.
“Students who are transgender currently attend DoDEA schools, just as they attend other school districts across the nation,” a spokesperson for the activity told NBC OUT. “It is the Department of Defense’s position, consistent with the U.S. Attorney General’s opinion, that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.”
The mother of the transgender student, Jessica Girven said that her daughter came out as transgender during the summer and she began her transition during August. She was then told that the school would take steps to accommodate her child.
Blue was given the option of either using the boys’ bathroom or the single stall gender-neutral bathroom that was down three flights of stairs and across the school’s courtyard in a nearby building.
Girven told Military.com that she discussed the issue with Dunham for about a week, but was told there was no other option.
The family then went to Ramstein’s Inspector General office but were told the DODEA were in charge of it.
“We tried to go through the appropriate channels but, you know, the military and transgender is very, very new,” she told Military.com.
Jessica Girven created a post on social media to express her anger with the decision, which was then shared and caught the attention of several people including the LGBT community which said that the DODEA was denying a transgender girl access to a bathroom that was consistent with her identity, something that is not in line with guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education.
The American Military Partner Association released a statement last week to express their displeasure with the decision.
“This superintendent’s decision to violate the civil rights of this transgender student is alarming,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “All students, regardless of their gender identity, deserve to be able to go to school in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. The Department of Defense school system is currently observing October as National Bullying Prevention Month, yet this superintendent has unacceptably chosen to single out and discriminate against a student because of her gender identity.”
Girven the created another post on social media after the decision was once again overturned and Blue was allowed to use the girls’ bathroom.
“Here is the BIG news everyone!! We fought! And we WON!!!!! Last night we heard back from the Secretary of Defense (yes I mean THE US Secretary of Defense) And because of our Fight now ALL TRANSGENDER KIDS in ALL department of Defense schools can now use the bathroom and Locker Room of their gender Identity!! Mic Drop!!!!!!,” the mother wrote.
“There’s no question that we as an agency could have done a much better job in expediting the process and providing clear direction and support to the superintendents and the principals,” Will Griffin, a spokesman for DODEA-Europe told Stars and Stripes. “It’s certainly regrettable that there was the potential for negative impact on a student.”
Girven met with activity officials last week to discuss policy change and how the DODEA can better work with transgender students.
Girven told Military.com that her child is wearing make-up and dresses to school. She added that the next thing she plans to do is to start her “as soon as humanly possible” on puberty blockers and female hormones.
“Ever since Blue was 2 or 3 years old, she’s been saying when she grows up, she’s going to be a girl,” Girven told Stars and Stripes. “She never acted on it (until now) because I think she didn’t know how.”