… when it should be about violence against transgender people?
I am female. That makes me physically vulnerable. Sometimes, I use the ladies room in public places. It is a personal issue for me.
As a woman in the world, I need to be aware of my surroundings. That means where I park my car, where I walk late at night and so on. It has nothing to do with being transgender. Having just passed year two of real life experience, the evidence is that very few people have read me. Certainly they would not from a distance. This is what friends tell me and this is what the reactions of strangers (or lack thereof) tell me. So while I am aware of the excessive violence against transgender members of society, my perceived vulnerability is related to being female.
Some time ago, I had the opportunity to comment on some legislation that would give the right of people to (in laymen’s terms) use bathroom facilities based on the way they are presenting themselves at the time. If they are dressed female, they would have the right to use female restrooms.
My initial reaction is that the legislation was too broad. Like many women, I would not want to encounter someone the size of an NFL defensive lineman in a women’s bathroom at the mall, simply because that person decided to wear a dress and a wig and maybe smeared on some makeup. My concern was not about a transgender person, regardless of size. Rather it was about someone looking for a loophole in the law to prey on women in a place where we need to have an expectation of safety and privacy.
My confession is that I now realize that I was wrong to not comment favorably on the legislation. There are a number of reasons. From a legal standpoint, the situation I am concerned about is covered by statues that make it illegal for a person to use disguises or impersonation to facilitate the commission of a crime or the express purpose of committing a crime. That covers assault, bank robbery, impersonating a police officer and pulling over a motorist on the highway and so on. If we need to add a clause to transgender rights legislation that confirms that nothing in that new law will nullify the existing laws about committing a crime while in disguise, then do it. Don’t throw out the law on that basis.
But there is a more basic reason. It has to do with the reality of who needs to be protected.
Once again we have reached the time of year when we remember those members of the transgender community who were murdered in the past year. Once again we will read the names of hundreds of those victims of hatred. Once again we will be reminded that merely living life as we know ourselves to be, based on how we were born, we are thousands of times more likely to end our life at the brutal hands of another human. Once again we will read and hear the causes: blunt force trauma to the head; multiple stab wounds; stoning; multiple gunshot wounds; dismemberment; suffocation; burning; strangulation; hanging; thrown from a vehicle and run over; pushed off a moving train; drowned. We are told about the indignities that sometimes are added to these murders: rape, eyes removed, victims bound and gagged, victims dumped like trash. We read the locations. Yes many occur in foreign countries: Brazil, India, the Philippines, England and Turkey to name a few. But this epidemic brutality has not departed from the United States. Since our last TDOR memorial, we have notice of murders in Cleveland, Baltimore, Memphis, and Los Angeles as well as some smaller municipalities.
Nor does murder against members of the transgender community respect an age limit. The oldest victim was 55 years old; the youngest eight. The child’s father was the murderer. The reason: the child refused to get a haircut, liked women’s clothing and dancing.
Now tell me, how many murders were committed in the past year by members of the transgender community against people because they were perceived to be cisgender? How many murders were committed in the past year by men disguised as women who preyed on women in public restrooms or similar places provided for women? Could it happen? Of course it could. Does it happen? Send me the report from a legitimate news source and I will not deny it. Would the number, if any, approach the number of transgender people murdered over the same time period? Not even close.
So who is it that needs protection again? With all the fear mongering and hand wringing about what someone might do or who might be going into the same bathroom at school as your daughter, there are hundreds of people who are actually being killed and even desecrated. The outcry is against something theoretical that has not caused problems when put into practice in various locations. But even worse, the outcry is against laws that are designed to attempt to protect people who actually are getting murdered and assaulted.
People are sensitive about what happens to children. Let’s take a closer look at the arguments about schools.
First of all, who do your daughters need to fear? Are there no girl bullies in your school? Consider yourself fortunate. Some schools even have girl gangs. Not only are they using the same bathrooms as your daughter, they are far more likely to be predatory than a male to female transgender child.
In fact, the transgender child is more likely to be the recipient of violence than the inflictor (as we also see in the adult world). What you are demanding is that someone else’s daughter (as her parents see her), a transgender girl, use a boy’s bathroom dressed as a girl with all her male classmates knowing that she acts like a girl. Don’t you see how cruel that is? Don’t you see how much more dangerous that is to this child than the hypothetical fear that you are projecting on this situation. And I say hypothetical because in school districts were this has been tried (for example in Los Angeles for 10 years) no problems of the kind you are claiming are occurring. But we certainly know many cases of transgender children being bullied and attacked.
Furthermore, when you say is that you don’t want a male to female transgender child in the bathroom with your daughter, you are implying (whether you know it or not) that it is acceptable to you for a female to male child to be in that bathroom with her. Regardless of the body with which this child was born, he now thinks of himself as male, has the attitudes of a male, may be working out his body as a male. In other words, if your daughter is in middle or high school, you are perfectly fine with your daughter being in the bathroom with someone who essentially is a teenage guy. The only thing he can’t do is get your daughter pregnant. But he could certainly molest her, if that is what is on his mind.
Now please understand here that I am not saying that this is what female to male transsexuals do or are inclined to do. The point that I just made is that this is the consequence of the absurd reasoning of those who are hateful and fear-mongering. Part of this is because the protection of daughters is a bigger flash point than the protection of sons. Another part is that there is much more attention in society given to male to female than female to male. When the “average” cisgender person thinks at all about the topic of transgender, my experience is that male to female is far more likely to come to mind. If not for Chaz Bono, many cisgender people might not even know that the transgender door swings both ways. Perhaps some people still aren’t aware of that fact.
There are some Christian parents who object to their children being exposed to this “lifestyle”. I respect their right to their opinion. But let me point out two things. First, do they send their children to schools were all the students are Christian? If they are going to public school, the answer is almost always “no”. Therefore, they are exposing their children to others who might tell them about the beliefs of another religion, or even the belief that God doesn’t exist. Isn’t that a far riskier exposure that might turn their children away from what they are teaching them? In comparison, transgender is one tiny issue that is still a rare phenomenon in society.
And that is the second point. It is a phenomenon, not a lifestyle. Children at age young ages (often pre-school) are not choosing a lifestyle. They are simply declaring who they are. Those who know truly know. No matter how much sand some people try to shovel against the tide, the growing evidence is that this is a birth condition. Indeed, this is the way God made them (and me) and that is what you are arguing against.
Now, move ahead to the adult years. While the exposure to an objectionable lifestyle argument generally disappears at this time, all the other arguments against transgender rights to use a bathroom commensurate with one’s presentation remain. But the counter arguments are also the same and even stronger. For someone presenting as a woman to use a men’s public bathroom is even more dangerous than in school. The men are stronger and the security is laxer. And the transman who would be required to use the woman’s bathroom is also now likely to be much stronger. As an adult, he is far more likely to be on testosterone, not just estrogen blockers. He is building solid muscle, especially if he is working out. And many do work out.
Finally, let me address what appears to be a moderate point of view. I have spoken to people who are supportive of me, but they have a problem with some legislation being too extreme. They will support legislation that allows people who can show that they have been diagnosed as transgender to use the bathrooms of their target gender. But they draw the line at a man being allowed to use a woman’s bathroom just because “he feels like a woman that day” (as some would make the argument).
This is pretty much where we came in. Basically, we are addressing the fear that someone will use this as a loophole to prey on women. But as we have seen, this is a red herring. There are other laws that cover this situation.
But while restricting the rights to those who have been diagnosed might sound like a reasonable compromise, there are still many transgendered people who would be exposed to unnecessary danger over such a compromise. First of all, it does not protect the male to female transsexual who has not yet been diagnosed and in some cases those who have requested a delay in that diagnosis because of family, job or insurance issues.
Second, it does not take into consideration the fact that there are some transgender people who are not transsexual in the sense that those terms have been used in recent years. They cross dress. They enjoy expressing their feminine side on a regular and ongoing basis. But they still see themselves as belonging to their assigned gender. If their birth certificate states that they are male, they see themselves as male. But they go to galas, parties, events, clubs, support and social group meetings in female mode. And whether they are at a public hotel or restaurant or at a rest stop, they may have the need to use the bathroom facilities. They would face the same dangers as a diagnosed transsexual if they were to use the men’s bathroom. The legislation needs to be crafted so that they are also protected. Here again, they are in far greater danger in a men’s bathroom than the other women in the women’s bathroom are from the presence of that transgender woman.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9