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On Wednesday, February 6, Colombian President Iván Duque presented his Security and Defense Plan, what did he point out?

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, along with his administration announced that it will no longer allow schools from discriminating against transgender students when it comes to public restrooms.  That decision revokes what President Barack Obama, along with the departments of Education and Justice, issued last May. It mandated that any educational facility that receives federal money had the obligation to treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex. In other words, transgender individuals were allowed to use the lavatory that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth.  

According to Attorney General Jeff Session, “The prior guidance documents did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice therefore have withdrawn the guidance”. He continued, “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, for discrimination, bullying, and harassment”.

During the Obama administration, the federal government said that transgender students were legally covered under Title IX, the statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This interpretation had been on hold after many states sued the government and a judge issued an injunction in August. Earlier this year, Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, declared that the Title IX does not apply to transgender issues because there was no such thing as gender identity when the statute was passed in 1972.

This decision not only affects Americans, but also transgender individuals living in developing countries. According to Alejandro Lanz Sánchez, founder of the organization PARCES in Bogotá, Colombia. during the Obama administration “a very important and revolutionary message was sent to other countries, but now that Trump is taking different measures, it’s going to have a negative impact on the lives of minorities”. PARCES is an association that fights for the rights of members of society that have been excluded, including transgender sexual workers.

Lanz continued, “ [the Obama administration] wanted to let everyone know that having gender neutral bathrooms for all was vital. Trump is now sending out the message that said matter is not important, and it is not something pertaining to human rights. The government here may follow their lead and the Colombian society could potentially be affected”. One must take into consideration that, according to the spokesperson for PARCES, the police force is the most recurring offender when it comes to the violation of basic human rights of transgender people.

The organization stated that the Colombian police force, in most cases, does not recognize the names of the transgender individuals if they don't match up with the gender given to them at birth. In other words, they choose to ignore the decision of the people and continue to offend them by not following their will. At times, minorities have their personal space violated by law enforcement officers who forcefully touch their breast and rear ends, among other actions that only prove that there is still a strong need of bettering the treatment towards trans.

There has been positive change in the Colombian judicial system in favor of transgender people like not being forced into the draft and not having to obtain legal paperwork to be able to change one's sex on one’s I.D. Alejandro Lanz affirms that, even though Colombia is moving in the right direction, people like Donald Trump and his administration could set developing countries back a few centuries and diminish the work of nonprofit organizations that are seeking equality and fairness for all.

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