WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support the news you trust and the programs you love - Make your donation now
CLOSEOpt Out: I already like WMFE!

Like us on Facebook!

Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Florida’s single sex bathroom bill would affect transgender youth


Play Audio

Transgender teen Jazz was the inspiration for a children's book. Florida's single sex bathroom bill, decried by the transgender community, would also affect schools.

Megan cracks open the book, and begins reading to her daughter.

“I am Jazz,” she starts. “For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been pink.”

That’s Megan, an Orlando mother reading a children’s book to her 5-year-old. We’re not giving Megan’s last name or the name of her daughter to protect the child’s identity.

Her daughter wears a green shirt with shiny rhinestones, a grey skirt and ballerina slippers.

She’s a little shy around the reporter until Jazz, in the book, says she’s not like her friends. Jazz has a girl brain and a boy body.

“I hate her that way,” the child says, pointing to the picture of Jazz in boy clothes. “I like her when she’s a girl.”

Megan’s five-year-old daughter is transgender; that means she was born with male anatomy.

It started at age two, when Megan’s child donned a tutu – and did so every day for next four to six weeks. That was three years ago, and then around Christmas:

“Very strongly started saying she, I’m a she. Big girl, that sort of thing,” Megan said. “So I went to the school and said, OK, after Christmas break, I would like everybody to be saying she.”

The Pre-K school has been very good with the pronoun change, but Megan worries about what’s next. In particular, she’s worried about where her daughter will use the restroom.

In elementary school, the classrooms all have single-stall rooms, so no issue. But in the upper grades, her daughter may have to use the faculty restroom, and Megan worries this will make her daughter stand out.

“Here’s somebody who’s different, here’s somebody who’s other,” Megan said. “Maybe it’s not gonna happen in elementary school, but if we mark her as different now, you know what’s gonna happen in high school and middle school. So I’m very nervous about that.”

The Florida Senate will take up a bill today criminalizing using the wrong bathroom.

It’s the first hearing in the Senate and its companion bill in the House has drawn scores of transgender Floridians to Tallahassee to speak out against the Single Sex Bathroom Bill.

But the legislation wouldn’t just affect adults – it would reach down into public schools, where it could affect Megan’s daughter.

And Megan may be nervous with good reason. The book her daughter loves so much, I Am Jazz, was based on a real transgender girl. Before the legislation surfaced, Jazz told WLRN in Miami that going to the bathroom was a big problem.

“It was harder in elementary school because I wasn’t allowed to use the girls’ restroom,” Jazz said.

She had to go the bathroom at the nurse’s office instead – and that would bother her.

“So I would actually hold in my pants and end up peeing myself. But now that I’m in Middle School the staff is just incredible,” Jazz said.

Equality Florida’s Gina Duncan, herself a transgender woman, decried the single sex bathroom bill at a recent conference in Orlando.

“I think there’s two areas I see as the most lagging: School boards and the medical community,” Duncan said. “Both are very much behind.”

For example, Duncan has been counseling a female to male high school transgender student in Central Florida.

“We’ll call him Michael,” Duncan said. “Michael is a good-size, strapping young man, great goatee, wonderful heart. Michael is supposed to use the girls room. Even though Michael has this fabulous beard.”

In the latest hearing in the Florida House, supporters say the single sex bathroom bill is needed to close a public safety loophole.

This will keep criminals from using transgender status as a pretext to commit a crime.

During that two-hour hearing, though, there was no mention of how to accommodate transgender students in public schools.

Check below to listen to the entire interview with Jazz.


WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

Sign Up For 90.7 WMFE's Newsletter

Catch up on the latest Central Florida news and get updates on programs, events and more.

SUBSCRIBE

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »

TOP