DeVos, Severino, And The “Religious Freedom” Division

Martie Sirois
7 min readJan 20, 2018

The latest from Trump that may harm our most vulnerable — transgender youth — who were just getting their first taste of living authentically

Meet Mimi Lemay, an amazing Mom, trans youth advocate, and someone I’m proud to know through the wonders of technology. Mimi did this MSNBC interview in May, 2016, after the Obama era guidance was issued regarding transgender students in public schools. That guidance clarified how to best support transgender students in schools across the nation, in light of more trans students being “out.” Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released in 2016, under President Obama, joint guidance to help provide educators with the information they needed to ensure that all students could attend school in an environment free from sex discrimination, and that in no uncertain terms included transgender students.

During Mimi’s interview, we see a replay of a guy speaking from an earlier interview. He says that gender identity is a “new concept” (it isn’t), he indicates that he does not want LGBTQ+ people to have basic rights, and he raises concerns about the safety of others with regard to sexual assault. The implication is that trans folks — or people “pretending” to be trans — will commit acts of sexual harassment/assault in public restrooms, and therefore, should not be legally permitted to use the public restrooms/locker rooms/changing facilities that match the gender they identify as. This “bathroom bill” language is rather old news, but if you missed it, or just want to hear those points ad nauseam, here’s the interview in question.

As research has shown, again and again, trans folks aren’t the ones committing acts of sexual assault, nor are cis men dressing up like women/pretending to be trans so they can go into women’s public restrooms and commit sex crimes against women and young girls. Kids are statistically more likely to be sexually molested or assaulted by someone the family knows and trusts, like a church leader, scout leader, athletic coach, or even family member.

The fact that we’re still having to have this conversation infuriates me, but yet, here we are again.

In case the guy in the video clip is unfamiliar, take a moment to learn more about him: His name is Roger Severino. He…

Martie Sirois

Covering the intersection of culture, politics & equality. Featured in Marker, HuffPost, PopSugar, Scary Mommy; heard on NPR, SiriusXM, LTYM, TIFO podcast, etc.