Pinellas Technical Education Centers decided to degrade and denigrate one of their students by forcing her to use a storage closet as a bathroom. They also threatened Alex Wilson with criminal charges if she dared to use the women’s restroom.
So is Wilson some registered sex offender who molested and assaulted other women? No. Wilson is a trans* woman.
In fact, the situation only occurred after a fellow student informed school officials that Wilson’s a trans* woman. Wilson has been living as a woman for four years, and the twenty-five year old has identified as female vocally since the age of twelve. Wilson began attending PTEC in November 2012. She is a nursing student there.
The PTEC informed Wilson that she had two choices- to use a storage closet across campus or to use the men’s restroom.
The ACLU of Florida’s Daniel Tilley responded saying that “This is an issue of basic fairness. Alex is a hard-working student training to become a healthcare professional, and
PTEC administrators had no problem with her until they found out she was a transgender woman. The school says their mission is to provide students opportunities to develop workplace skills. Stigmatizing and humiliating Alex does not advance this goal, and it teaches terrible lessons to future healthcare professionals about how to treat diverse populations.”
Wilson told reporters that “I lost sleep. I was constantly crying about it. I felt singled out. I felt like everyone was against me. I felt alone.”
The ACLU is reviewing the case and may press forward with a suit.
Some institutions have installed single-person gender neutral bathrooms in order to handle the issue of trans* people on campus. Typically, trans* people face a lot of difficulty with regards to restrooms and changing facilities due to prejudices which have instilled a distrust of anyone who does not fit the sexual binary of society.