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On Transgender Students, Do the Right Thing in the Right Way: New at Reason

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 9:33
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Doing the right thing for transgender students should not involve yet more unchecked executive power.

A. Barton Hinkle writes:

A man stabs a woman to death in a crowded store. Dozens of people see him do it. For good measure, he then confesses on tape. Should he be tried for murder, or should society skip the trial and just lock him up?

Most people would agree he should be tried despite his overwhelmingly obvious guilt. A nation of laws ought to abide by them. Besides, skipping the trial in this case would set a dangerous precedent. People might want to skip the trial in the next murder—where guilt isn’t quite so clear-cut.

Here’s another scenario: A woman stabs herself to death in a crowded store. Dozens of people see her do it, but nobody tries to stop her. Someone then writes to a federal employee, asking if the failure to stop a suicide qualifies as murder. He says yes, even though the law is silent on the matter. Should the witnesses be charged with murder based merely on his say-so?

These are abstract hypotheticals, but they have a real-world parallel in the case of Gavin Grimm—a transgender student in Gloucester, Va. Last week the Supreme Court agreed to hear his case.

There’s a long backstory, but the upshot is that the Gloucester school system doesn’t want to let Grimm, who is anatomically female but who identifies as a male, use the boys’ restroom. Grimm has sued, claiming the policy violates federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in public schools.

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