Recently, in another thread, RonF offered an opinion on trans people using bathrooms.
I wrote a reply, and then decided that it was too far off-topic for that comment thread. So here it is in its own post.
But a lot of people don’t want to have to share a bathroom with someone who is biologically not the same sex they are, and I don’t think it’s the province of the State to force them to have to.
Good heavens! Of course not. You shouldn’t be forced to use a bathroom with someone who makes you uncomfortable! If you see a person in a bathroom whom you suspect to be trans, I think you have every right to not use that bathroom and to seek a different bathroom, or to use the private bathroom you keep in your home!
Likewise, if someone is getting onto a subway car, and sees a trans person on the car, or they see you on the car, they have every right to wait for a different car. After all, during rush hour, they may well end up a lot closer to the trans person in that car, or to you, and for longer, than they will to anyone in a bathroom. (Yes, I know; their pants will be up, so they’ll be safe. I’m guessing you’ve never happened to be wearing an above-the-knee skirt in a subway car during rush hour. You might feel less safe. I certainly do.)
What the State should not be able to do is use force to clear you out of the bathroom or the subway car in order to protect them from their discomfort at your proximity.
It apparently baffles many people, especially conservatives, that trans people seem unable to understand that we make people uncomfortable. We’re well aware of it, and we probably understand it better than such people think. What baffles many trans people is the cis people who think that there’s Some Other Place for trans people to go. There’s not. If I were to go into the men’s room, there would be a lot of consternation. Men would object. If I walked in and checked my look in the mirror, a man using a urinal next to me would almost certainly feel uncomfortable and awkward. There’s a decent chance that I’d be assaulted. And then either I’d end up injured or dead, or, because I am who I am, he’d end up restrained and/or injured, and in either case my injuries or his injuries would be my fault because people would demand to know why I wasn’t in the women’s room.
No matter what I choose, if anything goes wrong, I should have been in Some Other Place, and people would tell me that it’s my fault that I wasn’t.
People wanting me to go to Some Other Place, when Some Other Place doesn’t actually exist, is people not wanting me not to exist. And if they use the power of the State to compel me to go Some Other Place which doesn’t exist, that’s using the power of the State to compel me not to exist, or to make life hard enough that maybe I’ll take care of that problem myself.
That there’s no Other Place should, by itself, be sufficient. I have to go Some Place That Actually Exists. It doesn’t matter what cis people conjecture would happen when they picture their own personal bogeytranswoman in their minds and their imagined reaction to her. I can tell you, from actual lived experience, that my presence doesn’t alarm cis people. Those same cis people can’t tell you that from their experience, because they don’t know that they’ve shared a bathroom with a trans woman, because I don’t volunteer that I’m trans when I’m in the women’s room. But I know.
But that’s passing privilege, because I can pass as cis. Leave it aside; it matters, but it shouldn’t. You know what should matter? My society has set aside a place where only women can go, and I’m a woman, so I go there. My society has set aside a place where only men can go, and I’m a woman, so I don’t go there.
Some people in my society worry that I will assault women while I’m in women’s space. Trans women assaulting cis women in women’s spaces is a thing which basically doesn’t happen; people wanting to keep trans women out have had to resort to making incidents up. On the other hand, people assaulting trans women in women’s spaces has happened many times.
(No doubt it will eventually happen, somewhere, sometime, that a trans woman assaults a cis woman in women’s space. And then it will leap from “never” to “staggeringly rare”.)
Trans women aren’t assaulting cis women in women’s spaces. Cis people are giving themselves the heebie-jeebies over a thing which doesn’t happen.
So here’s my question: why is this even my problem? Why do you want me to make sacrifices to pander to the groundless fears of other people? I don’t control any of this. I didn’t ask to be trans. I never wanted to be trans. I used to experience shame at being trans, but I don’t anymore, because I dug into that poison oak of fear and loathing, rooted out as much as I could, and planted healthy things where the fear and loathing used to grow. I had to do that, inside myself, to be at peace with myself. I’m still working on it, but mainly with regard to other issues. On trans issues, the bulk of it is done. It took a lot of work, but it was in my head, and so even though I didn’t put that stuff in there, it was my job to deal with it. The grief I get about being trans no longer comes from within. It comes from without, from other people who want me to carry their load.
This discomfort which other people experience is not in my head. It’s in their heads. There’s no way for someone outside their head to edit its contents (and thank Heaven for that!). They have to do it themselves. And it takes hard work and humility and sometimes pain to root it out. It’s difficult. I know this, because I did it. But I can’t do it for other people. They have to do it for themselves. It’s in their heads.
But many people are lazy and would rather impose on other people, hurt other people, than work on their own embedded prejudices. Which, okay, whatever. But it’s hard to have respect for lazy people.
PS. I’m not a cyborg. I’m 100% biological. And the existing neurological evidence suggests that I’m female. So, the phrase “biologically the same sex” is just another attempt to set up a bulwark so that you can draw a line around “women” with me outside of it, without having to actually say it in so many words. It’s equivalent to saying that a civil union is just like a marriage, except for the name. But if there’s anything the debate taught us, it’s that in some meaningful way, a civil union is not a marriage; there was clearly a meaningful difference, or people wouldn’t have fought so hard to keep marriage heterosexual. Well, clearly, in some meaningful way, saying “not biologically a woman” is saying “not a woman”.
Please. Stop drawing that line there. Surely your time could be spent more productively.