Lila Perry says she feels "powerless" as a result of Donald Trump's decision to roll back guidelines that protected transgender students

By Char Adams
February 24, 2017 11:07 AM
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Credit: Lila Perry

It has been more than a year since Lila Perry fought for her right to use the girls’ bathroom at her former Missouri high school. Now with President Donald Trump‘s decision to roll back guidelines that protect transgender students, Perry fears that all of her efforts will be “erased.”

Perry, an 18-year-old transgender woman, made headlines in Sept. 2015 when she battled with officials at Hillsboro High School to use the facilities that aligned with her gender identity. Now a high school graduate, Perry tells PEOPLE that she is fearful for the transgender students she left behind at the school.

“I feel bad for the younger trans people still in school who have to go to school now,” she says. “At my old school, there were plenty of trans people. They were all boys. When I graduated, they were all sophomores — some were freshman. Now, everything that the Trump administration is doing is going to affect these boys.”

Credit: Courtesy Lila Perry

The Trump administration has revoked federal guidelines for public schools that allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identities, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Even before this week’s ruling, Perry says she suspected that Trump would not retain the federal protections issued by the Obama administration.

“I was not surprised. Even though the Trump administration said they weren’t going to go after the rights of LGBTQ people, right away I knew,” she tells PEOPLE. “Because the case with most people is usually when they say they’re gonna protect the rights of the LGBTQ, that’s usually only the L [lesbian] and the G [gay].”

Lila Perry (center) with friends
| Credit: Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP

Perry says she endured taunts and harassment from her peers at the school, with more than 100 students walking out of the building to protest her use of the girls’ bathroom and locker room. Perry says she was a “pariah” at the high school in the months leading up to her graduation.

She adds that officials allowed her to use a “Girls and Gender Inclusive” bathroom, but forbid her from using the main girls’ bathroom at the school.

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And while she has moved on from high school, Perry says she’s fearful of what a Trump administration could mean for her in the coming years. “I feel so powerless right now,” she says.