The earth is flat; isn’t that obvious? I mean, it’s just so obvious, go outside and look. What!? How dare you suggest I don’t know! You have no right to force everyone to play along with your “world-not-flat” fantasy!
I think we should have compassion for ignorant people, I really do. But what about people whose ignorance is willfully, militantly, self-imposed? What about people who would hang their heads in shame if they were capable of realizing how baseless and uninformed their hatred for other people has been?
We reported here on the unanimous passage of the Montgomery County ordinance prohibiting discrimination against transgender people. As we said then, the unbelievably vicious opposition has been fixated on a single, fictional notion: That people will no longer “know” what kind of genitals the other people using a public restroom have. Seriously, folks. This is the focal point for the people opposed to this law.
It is real easy, let me see if I can help you here.
1. If you are born with a Johnson, use the mens room.
2. If were born without a Johnson, use the ladies room.
3. If you were born with a Johnson and you pay someone to lop it off have your head examined.
It is not for society to re-work the bathroom arrangments that have worked perfectly well since the dawn of public restrooms in order to accomodate a handful of confused nuts who can’t make up their minds wether they are a he or a she or something in between.
You may recognize Greg Stone as the “what part of illegal don’t you understand” guy, so things being “real easy” for him is to be expected. To be fair, Greg does get one thing right, and the Montgomery County Council agrees (as do I). People don’t need the government to help them go to the bathroom. Each of us is quite capable of determining which bathroom is the appropriate one to use, and the idea of potty police is about as literally nanny-state as you can get. Yet, this is precisely the argument of these pitiably anxious people: Regina Griggs of PFOX complains of the ordinance, “nowhere does it say you cannot use the bathroom of your choice.” Let’s make sure we understand this: They want The Government to promise them that when they are imagining the genitals of the person in the stall next to them (and you may reasonably ask why they would be doing that), they are not imagining the wrong ones.
Those of you who use public restrooms of either variety, feel free to weigh in here. Do people in either of these settings display their genitals to other patrons (other than the obvious minimal exposure at the urinal)? Has anybody ever seen that? No, of course not. The logical conclusion, then, is that we don’t know what they look like. Heads up, potty people. You have been going to the bathroom in the presence of transgender folks all this time. And, apparently, you have survived.
If you can remove the fingers you have jammed in your ears for just a moment, I will explain something to you. Human beings do not simply arrive in the world on two conveyor belts labeled “Johnson” and “No Johnson.” In most cases and for most purposes this is a good enough approximation, but it is not the biological reality of sex. We’ve done a good job of pretending otherwise, what with surgically erasing people (many more than most of you think) who are born with ambiguous genitalia and other states of being that refute this simplistic conceptualization. Covering up reality, however, doesn’t change it. I’m not going to give you a dissertation. See ISNA. See Dr. Dana Beyer’s comment here.
The bottom line is that sometimes people are assigned the wrong gender at birth, and they transition. At the point in their transition where it makes sense, they start using the bathroom designated for the gender they are living, because it would be silly and dangerous and look really weird for them to use the other one. The fact that this is just now coming to your attention pretty much demonstrates what a non-issue it is. Oh, one other thing – this usually happens long before they have surgery, if they have surgery at all.
Actually – and this is purely based on anecdotal evidence – the people who tend to get harassed in public restrooms are women with short hair and no makeup. Alison Bechtel did a hilarious strip (I can’t find it online, unfortunately) in which a conventionally feminine transwoman friend stands up for butch Mo in a public restroom after Mo’s appearance scares some poor lady. “Can’t you see this is a woman? Look a little closer next time, hon,” she says. Women don’t want to share public bathrooms with men (I have yet to hear any men complaining about “women” in the men’s room, but for the sake of parity we’ll just assume that as well). We get that, and no one is asking them to. That’s exactly why Greg’s construction above is so ridiculous. If women are uncomfortable with masculine women in the bathroom, just imagine how uncomfortable they would be with transmen. I don’t think they would be at all happy with that little scenario.
Now, maybe you are one of the folks who just feel that transgender people can’t really exist, and you express your feeling with phrases like “men who think they’re women.” Maybe you are one of those people who has trouble accepting that something you can’t see and touch – the neurological state that is gender identity, everybody has one – is biological. Please refer to the beginning of this post. The earth is not flat, and your refusal to personally get on a plane and prove this to yourself does not make it flat.
I am less patient than Dr. Beyer, who suggested to one such person that he must think epilepsy should be treated with exorcism. He, unsurprisingly, took offense at this. After all, maybe a couple hundred years ago it was “obvious” that epilepsy was caused by possession, but we know better now. It is indeed insulting to accuse someone of thinking that epilepsy should be treated with exorcism. There is a good reason for that, and it is called “knowledge.” We continue to acquire more of it, and sometimes it challenges things we have taken for granted. It’s not bad to find this uncomfortable, that’s a very human response. But, that is how the acquisition of knowledge works. Discomfort passes once we understand something. It requires a willingness to be open to new information, but I think most people have that.
A few of you have not removed the fingers jammed in your ears, because you have an agenda. You are only interested in trying to erase, by any means necessary, anyone whose existence causes you discomfort. You are the people whose ignorance is willfully, malevolently imposed, not only on yourselves, but on anyone else you can infect. You are uncomfortable because you choose to be – and frankly, you deserve worse.