Trans man expertly challenges Republican lawmaker Glenn Youngkin over bigoted bathroom ban

Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin has been challenged over his proposed trans student bathroom and sport bans.

The bill was announced in September 2022 and would make bathroom access for students dependent on gender assigned at birth.

But the proposal also goes further, stating schools should defer to parents on used names, nicknames and “pronouns, if any” for their children, as well as informing them on any transitioning measures.

Youngkin appeared in a CNN town hall on Thursday (9 March), where Niko, a 17-year-old trans man from Arlington who was only identified by first name, questioned the governor on the policy.

“Your transgender model policies require that students play on the sports teams and use the restrooms that correspond with their sex assigned at birth,” Niko said.

“Look at me: I am a transgender man. Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me.”

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In response, Youngkin said that when parents “are engaged with their children then you can make good decisions together”, as well as “lots of students being involved” in the decision.

“What’s most important is that we try very hard to accommodate students. That’s why I have said many, many times we just need extra bathrooms in schools.

“We need gender-neutral bathrooms so people can use that they in fact are comfortable with,” Youngkin said.

‘Not that simple’

On sports, Youngkin said he believed it was “very clear” and “not controversial” that “biological boys should be playing sports with biological girls”.

He continued to say that it was not fair for trans women to play against other women to not impact the “decades of efforts in order to gain opportunities for women in sports”.

“That’s non-controversial and something that I think is pretty well understood,” he said, acknowledging these were “difficult” discussions.

He has long defended the policy as “not controversial” since its release.

CNN’s Jake Tapper put it to Youngkin that it was “not that simple” as just giving parents more decision making powers, highlighting that parents will have different views themselves.

“What parent do you go with?”

Youngkin said he did not think “it was that hard when we start with the basic principle that parents matter”.

He went on to reference the case of a child named Sage, who’s grandmother appeared to be in the audience, where he links the child getting “caught up in some horrific human trafficking issues” because school staff did not tell the parents their child was trans.

In response to Tapper asking about parents that were not supportive of LGBTQ+ persons, Youngkin said he believed “firmly” that parents have a right, and want, to be engaged in their children’s lives.

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