Guidance Protecting Transgender Youth and Young Adults From Discrimination Fact Sheet

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Thursday 23rd February 2017
Summary: Williams Institute fact sheet regarding U.S. Departments of Education and Justice withdrawal of legal guidance protecting transgender youth and young adults from discrimination in education.

News outlets are reporting that the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice will withdraw legal guidance that protects over 350,000 transgender youth and young adults in the United States from discrimination in education. The Williams Institute is providing this fact sheet to assist with reporting on the issue. Williams Institute scholars are available for comment.

The Guidance

In May 2016, under the Obama Administration, the Departments of Education and Justice jointly released Guidance to school administrators about the rights of transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX").[1] Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance. The Guidance confirms that discrimination against transgender students on the basis of gender identity violates Title IX, consistent with a growing body of case law from federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on this issue on March 28, 2017 in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.

On February 21, 2017, news outlets began to report that the Trump administration plans to withdraw the Guidance.

Transgender Students in the United States

In the United States, there are approximately 150,000 transgender youth (age 13-17) and 206,000 young adults (18 to 24).[2]

Widespread Bullying & Harassment Impacts Access to Education

The Guidance aims to protect these students from school-based bullying, harassment, and discrimination that impairs their access to equal education. Research demonstrates the high prevalence of bullying and harassment of transgender students.[3]

Restrooms: Denial of Access and a Location for Harassment

With respect to restroom access specifically, transgender people report being denied access, harassed, or assaulted while trying the access restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

The Life Long Impacts of Harassment & Discrimination in Education

Educational attainment is a significant determinant of economic status and health across the life course. But discrimination, harassment, and victimization impairs many transgender students' access to education, and is associated with lower educational attainment, reduced economic prospects, increased risk of homelessness, and other negative outcomes.

Supportive Environments Work

Despite these findings, research shows that creating a supportive environment that treats transgender people consistent with their gender identity can ameliorate these negative outcomes. Transgender people who are accepted and supported at home and in their community report lower rates of negative outcomes, including lower rates of mental distress, homelessness, and suicide.[19]


[1] Letter from Catherine E. Lhamon, Ass't Sec'y for Civil Rights, U.S. Dep't of Education and Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Att'y Gen. for Civil Rights, U.S. Dep't of Justice (May 2016),

[2] Flores et al., Williams Institute, Age of Individuals Who Identify as Transgender in the United States (2017),

[3] Kosciw et al., GLSEN, The 2015 National School Climate Survey (2016),

[4] McGuire et al., School climate for transgender youth: a mixed method investigation of student experiences and school responses, 39 J. Youth Adolesc. 1175 (2010).

[5] James et al., Nat'l Center for Transgender Equality, Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey 130-35 (2016),

[6] Id. at 134.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 132.

[9] Id. at 136.

[10] Kosciw, supra, at 38.

[11] Herman, Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress, 19 J. Pub. Mgmt. & Soc.Pol'y 65, 71 (2013),

[12] Id. at 75.

<[13] See, e.g., Hendricks & Testa, A Conceptual Framework for Clinical Work with Trangender and Gender Nonconforming Clients: An Adaptation of the Minority Stress Model, 43 Prof. Psych.: Research & Practice 460, 465 (2012).

[14] Id. at 465-66; Kristen Clements-Nolle et al., Attempted Suicide Among Transgender Persons: The Influence of Gender-Based Discrimination and Victimization, 51 J. of Homosexuality 53, 61-65 (2006).

[15] James et al., supra, at 112-14.

[16] Id. at 115.

[17] Hendricks & Testa, supra, at 465-66; Kristen Clements-Nolle et al., Attempted Suicide Among Transgender Persons: The Influence of Gender-Based Discrimination and Victimization, 51 J. of Homosexuality 53, 61-65 (2006).

[18] Herman, Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress, 19 J. Pub. Mgmt. & Soc. Pol'y 65 (2013); Seelman, Transgender Adults' Access to College Bathrooms and Housing and the Relationship to Suicidality, J. of Homosexuality 1 (2016).

[19] See, e.g., American Psychological Ass'n ("APA"), Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People, 70 Am. Psychol. 832, 832, 862 (Dec. 2015); James et al., supra, at 76; Bockting et al., Stigma, Mental Health, and Resilience in an Online Sample of the US Transgender Population, 103 Am. J. of Pub. Health 943 (2013).

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