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Transgender people, bathrooms, and this week’s news: The source documents behind the news

The Primary Source Crusader (my own mashup of images)

If you, like me, were expecting something more rule-like or law-like to be behind the reports of Trump rescinding Obama’s guidance on transgender bathroom use in schools, you (like me) probably went to the wrong places to find the actual documents. As it turns out, these are jointly release “dear colleague” letters sent by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education to schools across the nation. Their purpose is to provide guidance interpreting Title IX, sometimes also cited as 20 U.S.C. Chapter 38.

Since the Trump administration has said that this issue is now a States Rights issue, I expect there will be state-by-state actions before long.

The DoJ has also sent a letter to the Supreme Court alerting them to this chance, since there’s a case before them right now that hinges on transgender status under Title IX. [Update 3/6/2017: The Supreme Court has sent the case back to the lower courts in light of the new guidance on transgender status under Title IX.)


Two caveats: 1) Not all knowable things are knowable using official, original published sources, but that’s the limit I’ve set for myself even when that’s inconvenient or frustrating, and 2) I am a librarian trained in tracking down and evaluating sources — nothing more or less than that. I’m doing my best to find the most authoritative version of the primary sources behind the news, and I welcome suggestions and corrections. If you or someone you know would like to add to my collection of primary sources, please let me know.

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