Maine Pediatricians Support Transgender Student's Use of Girls Bathroom

Article excerpt

PORTLAND, Maine -- The president of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said Friday that "a transgender girl needs to be treated like any other girl" and should be allowed to use the girls bathroom at school.

Dr. Steve Feder, a pediatrician in Boothbay Harbor and Damariscotta, said in a telephone interview that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court should recognize that gender identity is internalized and not simply a matter of physical characteristics, especially for transgender children.

The physician said that his organization has joined a "friend of the court" brief in a case pending before the state supreme court. Other groups who signed onto the amicus brief are the Maine Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers-Maine Chapter, Trans Youth Equality Foundation, the Maine Women's Lobby and the Downeast and Southern Maine chapters of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

The case concerns a transgender student's use of the girls bathroom at schools in Orono.

"We would like [the justices] to recognize that from a medical and mental health perspective gender identity is internalized," Feder said. "It involves more than hormones and external genitalia. Gender identity is a mixture of those things and that is well recognized in the literature."

About 200 of Maine's 220 pediatricians belong to the Maine chapter of the national group, he said. It is the first time the organization has signed onto a brief before the state's high court.

Feder said that members of the organization had "an active dialogue" before its board made the unanimous decision to sign on to the brief.

"This case is a good example of how that is playing out in Maine," Feder said. "We support this young woman being recognized as a young woman. A transgender girl needs to be treated like any other girl."

Feder said the condition of gender identity dysphoria is very rare. The American Psychological Association has estimated that 1 in 10,000 biological males and 1 in 30,000 biological females in Western society are transgender, according to a previously published report.

The incident that sparked the court case began in 2007 when a child, who was born male but identifies as female, was forced to stop using the girls bathroom in a Penobscot County school and was told to use a staff bathroom after the grandfather of a male student complained. …