Vanessa Fabbre: Bathroom is Source of Trauma for Transgender People

Faculty; Policy

​A vast amount of evidence shows that bathrooms are often the site of abuse and trauma against transgender people, not the other way around, says an expert on transgender aging at Washington University in St. Louis.

With Missouri considering legislation to become the latest state to pass a “bathroom bill” and President Trump rescinding rules on bathrooms for transgender students, the health of transgender people is at stake, said Vanessa Fabbre, assistant professor at the Brown School, whose research explores the conditions under which LGBTQ people age well.

“‘Bathroom bills’ like the one proposed for public schools in Missouri, and Trump’s rolling back of protections for transgender students, are not merely discriminatory, they pose direct threats to the health and well-being of trans and gender non-conforming people,” said Fabbre, an expert on later-life gender transitions and co-creator of “To Survive on This Shore,” a book and website project of photographs and interviews highlighting transgender and gender non-conforming older adults.

Last week, the Trump administration revoked a key initiative of the preceding Obama administration and revoked the landmark ruling under which public schools allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

Fabbre said eliminating such choices at state and federal levels “contradict everything we know about what trans people need to live long and healthy lives. It is troubling to see our legislature creating a problem that doesn’t exist, while ignoring one that does.”