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.
“… or, because I am who I am, he’d end up restrained and/or injured …”
As I understand it, you are some kind of low-level traffic officer.
Maybe your internal affairs department (or defense attorney in a lawsuit against you) will explain that you are not to use your employment position as leverage in your private squabbles.
And if you think you are the heavyweight champion of the world … you’re not, sweetie. Just trying to keep it real.
As for the rest, there is a real desire to make the entire rest of the world conform to your ideas and practices. I couldn’t imagine more entitlement, and passive-aggressive entitlement at that.
Well sign me on to that petition.
Not to de-rail too hard (I hope) but this is also precisely what I think about when people in SF complain “there is a guy sleeping in front of my house. The rhetoric amounts to the same thing – they never say where they want the guy to go, and they don’t want to provide him housing, pay to keep him in jail indefinitely, build a group home to treat his needs, etc. etc. so I can only conclude that they basically want him, and people like him, rounded up and shot or something.
Also, unless RonF and others are advocating for a panty check AND a chromosomal smear at every bathroom entrance, they already are using the bathroom next to people who are not “biologically the same sex”* without even knowing it.
*as if that phrase meant anything anyway, as even a cursory read of “Sexing the Body” would reveal.
Also, good grief, plenty of people have spent plenty of time using bathrooms that are unsexed and ungendered to begin with (I realize this is not the same issue as trans/GNC people having safe bathroom access, though IME it can be helpful, but I bring it up because it’s also related to fears of using a bathroom with someone who has different genitalia). My dorm bathrooms in college were for everyone, as were the ones in all the living groups that I visited with any regularity. When I go to activist conferences the bathrooms are often made for everyone for the duration of the conference. Just let everyone get on with using the bathroom, folks.
Also also, FFS, there are already 18 states, plus DC, that include gender identity/expression in public accommodations anti-discrimination laws. Rhode Island did it in 2001. It’s not like this is some unprecedented wilderness here where we have no evidence about how it will work out (even if it were I would still consider it important, but the fact that it’s not makes some opponents seem rather disingenuous).
It is surprising and expected and saddening every time I see a comment like Esjay’s. The combination of ignorance, condescension and unacknowledged privilege that we can see in his or her comment is a shining example of what I do not want to be.
Given the overall tone of your post you probably don’t deserve a civil response (and God knows Grace can speak for herself and hold her own against you…), but I interpreted her comment not to mean that she would try to leverage her position, but that she would use her physical abilities and training to defend herself (I’ve never met her, but I’m pretty sure she’s more than a “low-level traffic officer” in her profession).
Ignoring the fact that one’s personal identity is a lot more than “ideas and practices,” do you recognize that you’re asking “the entire rest of the world to conform to your ideas and practices” when you oppose basic tolerance of transgender women and men? Does that seem problematic to you, or could you clarify why you don’t think that’s the case?
That is pretty much what activism is for, yes. How else are people supposed to advocate for respect and safety and being able to use the bathroom? Given the number of areas that have already passed laws affirming trans people’s right to use the appropriate bathroom, Grace is hardly waging a one-woman campaign here.
Yep, same here. And yes, it was very slightly awkward the first time you saw an (opposite-sex) person wander out of the bathroom in a towel, but we got over it and let each other pee in peace like reasonable mostly-adults. I would think this would be a really good test case of just how much of a non-issue it should be in a sensible world, since there are plenty of schools with single-sex and co-ed bathrooms in the same building, but I haven’t seen anyone do a study yet.
Esjay, welcome to Alas.
The phrase “low-level traffic officer” — at least as you used it, to imply that such a person is by definition not capable — is demeaning to the many very capable traffic officers out there who work the road and risk their lives in an effort to keep all of us safe. But then, you knew that it was demeaning, because you intended to demean me; see also “sweetie”.
That’s not the tone we work toward, here at Alas. If you attack, attack ideas, not people.
I am a moderator, here. (I approved your comment; first-time comments must be approved by a moderator. It weeds out spam.) If you reply again in this thread, leave the personal attacks out of it and reply to the substance of the argument. Thank you.
I’d like to draw your attention to the very first word of the line you excerpted, the conjunction “or”. It signifies that any of the items in the list containing it might be true (and, mathematically, that only one of them is true, but I was not writing with mathematical precision). So, in the sentence you were quoting, I was suggesting that if I am physically attacked, one of several things might happen, respectively:
I might end up injured.
I might end up dead.
He might end up injured.
He might end up restrained.
He might end up both injured and restrained.
Feel free to point out, in that little bit of exposition, anything which could possibly support your speculation that I think I’m any kind of heavyweight.
…unless it’s a belief that as a woman I cannot possibly succeed in any physical contest with a man, and that by asserting that I might, I’m rising above my station. But that would put you on the horns of a dilemma, wouldn’t it? If I’m a man, even if I’m “some kind of low-level traffic officer”, presumably I could prevail some cases against some men (which, of course I could, even given that I’m a woman; have you seen some of the unfit, unaware, unprepared specimens out there?) If I’m a woman, well…
…I belong in the women’s room.
But leave aside that you saw it as chest-thumping when I suggested the possibility that I might sometimes prevail in a physical encounter. Whether or not I would prevail is beside the point. The point is that when everyone is just trying to pee in peace, anyone being assaulted, injured, dead or restrained is a negative outcome. I actually do care about other people, and their comfort; that’s the point that I was making, that my presence in a men’s room is likely to cause discomfort.
Also, whatever your understanding about my assignment or capabilities, “low-level” traffic officers learn how and when to physically arrest people who don’t want to be arrested, and how and when to defend themselves against physical assault. Some of them even train to maintain and improve their skills.
You assert a hypothetical ethical lapse, on my part. Well, let’s see. In the scenario which I laid out in the post you replied to, I have walked into the men’s room, I am using a sink, and the guy at the adjacent urinal assaults me. Assault is a crime. So, let’s game this out. In your opinion:
If I’m on duty in the bathroom, and someone assaults me, that’s certainly assault in the everyday sense and could also be changed as assault on an officer. Surely you can’t be asserting that if I am directly assaulted, making an arrest would be “[using my] employment position as leverage”? Maybe you do not envision that on-duty officers sometimes need to use a bathroom?
If I’m off duty in the bathroom, and someone assaults me, I may not “use my employment position as leverage”. What does that mean? Are you presuming that I would identify myself as an officer in order to explain why I’m there? Am I not permitted to identify myself as an officer and make the arrest? I am not permitted to defend my own person, simply as any private citizen may?
If I’m a retired officer in the bathroom, and someone assaults me, I “use my employment position as leverage” because… what? What would that even look like? Someone punches me and I say, “No, no! Hold, miscreant! Hold, for I was once an officer of the law!” and that somehow stops the assault? Not likely. Do you mean that I’m not permitted to defend myself physically against assault?
As far as I can tell, your opinion is that a police officer may never defend herself when assaulted in the bathroom.
Or, that the act of entering a bathroom to use it for its designed purpose, while existing as a trans person and service as a police officer, is an abuse of a police officer’s authority?
I think you’ve beautifully illustrated the point I made in my post when I pointed out that if I try to use a bathroom and anything bad happens, it will be blamed on me no matter what. And right out of the starting gate; yours was the very first comment. Well done.
One of the other things I have done for many years, in my employment as a police officer and prior to that employment, was study the legal and ethical use of force. I also taught it to officers. So, I know that you are wrong, in all three cases. In all of the cases, if I am assaulted, whether I am an officer or not, I have the right to use reasonable necessary force to protect myself. In some of those cases, I also have the legal authority to make an arrest for a crime (provided this bathroom is in a jurisdiction where I have that legal authority, which is a variable as-yet unaddressed, and in many jurisdictions does not actually require that I am anything more than a citizen with a crime happening in my presence).
Ah. This is an important point. It’s important to note that trans people are not actually seeking to control anyone’s behavior, except insofar as requiring that they not assault trans people. As far as trans people are concerned, cis people, ALL PEOPLE, are welcome to use the bathroom designated for the gender they present. In this bathroom debate, it is other people who are seeking to control trans people. So if there’s any effort to make anyone conform to ideas and practices, it is the people who seek to control trans people’s access to public accommodations. Indeed, I had to use that unwieldy phrase precisely because there’s no short term for it. I can’t say “cis people”, because many cis people don’t try to control where trans people pee; several of them have already replied in this thread. The defining characteristic of the group opposed to trans people is that they are seeking to control trans people. (As for the idea that trans people are making the rest of the world conform… Wow. In order to casually frame it that way, I don’t think you have the least clue what it is, to be made to conform the way trans people are made to conform.)
But please, provide more detail. First, please acknowledge that trans people are human beings in physical bodies who sometimes need to urinate and/or defecate and have as much right as anyone else to do it with reasonable safety and privacy. Then tell us where. Let’s just take the simplest cases, the case of trans people living 24/7 in their true gender rather than the gender they were assigned at birth.
Should they be able to use public accommodations? If not, why not?
(Be prepared to defend the factual basis of your answer; if it’s “because other people feel uncomfortable about the idea”, please explain why other people’s discomfort should matter more than a trans person’s health, safety, dignity, and cleanliness, and why it should matter more than the discomfort of other members of the public who will be sharing a sidewalk or a subway car or a taxi with a trans person who has soiled themselves because there was no sanitary place for them to relieve themselves correctly.)
If not, and they pass as cisgender, what should they do?
If not, and they are visibly trans, what should they do?
Does no one “Remember the Alamo” anymore? It was a big deal back in the 70’s, during Disney’s Daniel Boone/Davey Crocket days.
Look, I like women’s lib as much as the next guy. But we simply had to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for the obvious reason that we needed to defend the sanctity of our bathrooms. Look it up (or, for you whippersnappers on the internets, “Google” it): Bathrooms were a big deal — much more important than love of mother, sister, wife, or daughter.
You think I’m joking? Well, I’ll turn this car around right now and we can go home, young man and lady; think I’m joking now?
So, after all these these years, now these trixy trans folk to undermine our hard-fought victory.
If you’re old enough to remember the ERA, you’re old enough to remember Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof equivocating “one the one hand…. but on the other hand…” until at last he reaches his limit: “NO. There is no other hand!”
And he’s right. I’m sorry, but to put in in terms you whippersnappers would understand, “I just don’t have a square to spare.” We must draw a line and defend our bathrooms from invasion from the other side. Admittedly, I can’t say on which side of the line Grace would land and I’m desperately not thinking about it. Indeed, not thinking is my chief weapon.
Not thinking and adamancy.
Not thinking, adamancy, and a fanatical loyalty to the Pope. But you whippersnappers won’t get that. (…stupid gits….)
You know, I’d like to say that I’m just gonna wait until there’s no one left in the bathroom before I go in; problem solved. But at my age, that’s just not a viable strategy. So here I come, ready or not. Please excuse me.
Esjay: You are quite lucky another moderator got to your comment first. I’d have you out on your ass. Grace was nice about it but I won’t be–personally attack her or anyone else in this thread again, and you get marching orders.
Though my first step, given your smug pretense of knowing Grace, will be to check your IP against our known trolls.
“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.”
This seems like a big leap and some pretty hyperbolic speech to me.
Pao, are you disagreeing with the thrust of the entire piece, or just with that one passage?
Let’s take the two extremes for argument’s sake:
If you “pass” as a woman, just use the women’s bathroom. There is no problem at all. No one is going to say a word if they don’t even know you are a trans woman.
At the other extreme, let’s say that it appears to women in the women’s bathroom that a square-jawed man with linebacker calves has put on a wig and a dress and is using the women’s bathroom. He also has a noticeable full erection.
You can imagine that a lot of women would feel very uncomfortable with that.
So I take a bit of an issue with the tone of this article. Are those hypothetical women just supposed to shut up? Is there some middle ground here? In my opinion, the above article takes a very militant tone in just addressing her “rights” (her meaning a generic trans woman), but doesn’t equally address both sides in a balanced way.
Vili, if somebody is in any bathroom meant for use by multiple people at the same time, and said somebody has a “noticeable full erection”, I feel pretty confident in saying that said somebody is not using the bathroom for the intended purpose. That falls under behavior and certainly might with propriety be complained about, but I don’t see what the linebacker shoulders have to do with it. One’s genetics are one’s genetics, and I can no more widen my shoulders than someone with wide ones can narrow theirs.
I note that you don’t address the case of someone with linebacker shoulders who just has to pee. One’s physique has little to do with one’s excretory needs.
I also note that what you describe as a “very militant tone in just addressing her ‘rights'” amounts to “I have to pee somewhere, just like everybody”.
The only thought I remember ever having about other women in the bathroom was whether she looked like she was going to take a long time in there, and that only when there was a line. It is a mental focus that I highly recommend to those inclined to worry about other things.
“… but I don’t see what the linebacker shoulders have to do with it.”
Because I said that I wanted to take the two extremes for argument’s sake. That can sometimes be a method of discovering something about what people’s real reasons are for being in favor of something or not.
I took the 100% pass side and the worst-case scenario on the other side. On the “not pass” side, a tall person with wide shoulders, a large Adam’s apple, a deep booming voice and a muscular frame is presumably less likely to “pass”. That is, in my mind, an obvious fact.
I just want to see how people feel at the two extremes. That can be useful in developing a framework to approach these issues. That’s all.
So when you are explaining genetics to me and the like, you are arguing against something that I wasn’t saying.
How about another scenario / hypothetical: A woman-only fitness studio.
Should a pre-operation trans woman use the group showers there?
I don’t see at all what the person’s build has to do with it. If there are actions the person is taking that are problematic, they’re problematic regardless of what the person looks like. Creeping on other people in a bathroom isn’t super extra special bad for people who look one way rather than another; it’s wrong regardless of appearance. And if they’re not acting in a bad way–if they come in and use the facilities like everyone else, and frankly even if they come in and use the facilities with a “noticeable full erection” as long as they’re behaving normally, as long as by that you meant “visible through clothes” and not “exposing themselves”–then what business of mine is it what they look like?
I apparently have this amazing ability not to be terrified by penises or even erections, which I suspect is shared by most people of my (cis) sex, but somehow we are rhetorically vanished into fainting pearl-clutchers.
By group showers, do you mean the ones without individual cubicles where everyone takes their showers in the open? I frankly don’t know how anyone manages to use those. I suspect, and I am certain that I will be corrected if I am wrong, that someone who might already be inclined to have mixed feelings about her current body would not want to expose said body to people who might decide that her body was somehow their business.
If you say that I am evading the question, so be it; you are coming up with the most bizarre, microscopically improbable hypotheticals to justify denying a group of people the right to eliminate their bodily wastes in as dignified a way as is ever possible for so undignified a process.
I think the question really being asked is:
“What if a hyper-masculine sexual predator dressed up in drag and went into the women’s bathroom to sexually assault women?”
And the conclusion drawn seems to be:
“That’s what we must guard against and so be it if the vanishingly small population of transwomen has no public restrooms to use.”
Both the question and the conclusion seem strange to me.
Vili – let’s take another extreme. What if I walk into the women’s bathroom and the person at the sink has a full beard and male pattern baldness? What if, when I say that he is in the wrong bathroom, he tells me that he is a transman and that recently-passed laws (passed to keep “biological men” out of women’s bathrooms) require him to use the lady’s room? Do you think that the people horrified at the idea of sharing the ladies’ room with transwomen will be any more comfortable sharing it with transmen?
I don’t pass as a woman. I am a woman. I pass as cisgender.
Vili, I don’t know if you’re aware of the context of this conversation, in our society. Right now there are many bills going through legislative process, all over the country, which would make it illegal for you to use a bathroom designated for a gender other than (depending on the specific bill) the one shown on your birth certificate, or the one you are “physically”, which is ill-defined, but usually references your birth certificate as it was at the time you were born.
I have a friend who has been completely socially and physically transitioned for over 15 years. She passes as cis when she is naked in a hot hub. She was sometimes questioned on her gender before she transitioned. However, she was born in a jurisdiction where there is no way to get her birth certificate amended or replaced, so her birth certificate has her former male-typical name, and an “M”. These laws would have her committing a misdemeanor each time she used the bathroom she manifestly belonged in.
Some jurisdictions permit trans people to change their birth certificates if they have undergone “irreversible medical treatment.” (The existing birth certificate is sealed.) Said treatment does not have to be complete genital reconstruction. Also, a complete genital reconstruction does not require you to change your birth certificate.
As a result, these laws would require some people with penises to use men’s rooms, some people with penises to use women’s rooms, some people with vaginas to use men’s rooms, and some people with vaginas to use women’s rooms…
So, that’s the backdrop of this conversation, a world where people are seeking to criminalize exactly the solution you suggested.
This is functionally true, but the world is complex. I can pass as cis in most circumstances, but in the wrong circumstances any trans person can be outed. Some people can’t pass as cis very well at all; almost all trans people have been in that position, early in transition. And someone doesn’t have to catch you flagrantly using the toilet stall; if someone later realizes that you were in there, they can report it, and if the investigation shows that you committed a misdemeanor, then you can be charged with it after the fact, through a warrant and complaint process.
So for that and on principle, I don’t think that “disobey the law and don’t get caught” should be our go-to solution, here.
Also, for many people who do not and can not pass as cis, “don’t get caught” is not an option.
You couldn’t resist gilding the lily, there, could you? “Noticeable full erection” indeed. You’ve just said, “sexual predator” while avoiding saying the words, by painting a caricature. That’s not one end of a spectrum; that’s a different person entirely. Before you legislate my right to use public facilities out of existence, kindly point out where this has been a problem which could not be addressed through existing law. Re-read the original post. This is a thing which doesn’t happen. There are 700,000 or more trans people in the United States, and we all use public facilities to some extent. Feel free to cite an instance of a trans woman who presented an erect penis in a bathroom or a locker room. Can you find one?
I’m skeptical. If you do find one, do you think that instance could be addressed under existing law?
Why is this a thing which doesn’t happen? Well, trans women are women, and we identify and sympathize with other women, and don’t want to alarm them. Also, we don’t want to alarm them in exactly that way which would come back hardest on US, by outing ourselves, exposing ourselves to harassment and assault, and giving ammunition to people who would rather that we don’t exist and have no compunctions about making life hard for us. That’s the bogeytranswoman I was referring to in my post.
Further, there are any number of ways of hiding an erection, as any teenager with a penis will tell you, and as I’m guessing you know yourself. Trans women figure these ways out the same way other penis-havers do, and those trans women who are even able to have erections (because hormones often make them a thing of the past) know perfectly well how to conceal them if they have them, and are extremely unlikely to have them in a bathroom in the first place, where the usual intense sensation being experienced by the trans woman is “scared shitless”.
Make ’em do whatever you want. They’re your hypothetical women.
If they were my hypothetical women, I’d have them go about their business in peace.
Meanwhile, we have upwards of 350,000 real-life trans women in this country with real-life need to use a bathroom, suffering real-life consequences if we don’t. And the real-life, actually existing cis women who have chimed in on this thread have no issue with trans people using the bathroom with them.
A middle ground between “we all use bathrooms for their intended purpose, in peace, and people with unexamined fears experience nothing happening and get over themselves” and “trans people have to out themselves and risk their lives to use the bathroom in order to calm the unexamined fears of people to whom they are not a threat”? Why would you even want such a thing, except to have the freedom to go about your business without consideration for the most basic needs of a minority you don’t want to take the time to understand?
Which brings me back to the question in my post: Why is this my problem? Why is this trans’ people’s problem? Decades ago, it was very common for white people to publicly express anxiety about sharing bathrooms with black people. Solution: black people used the same bathrooms and everyone but the diehard bigots got over it.
In response to my question, you have offered up a caricature which doesn’t actually exist to justify fears which are very real, but groundless.
It’s not convincing. Keep thinking it through.
“He also has a noticeable full erection.”
Ok, maybe this is because I don’t have a penis and so don’t spend all that much time thinking about them unless I am actually having sex with a penis-having person, but…if this person is clothed, and I am not staring inappropriately at their groin, how is their erection going to be “noticeable”? Surely either I or they are being inappropriate here if I know what kind of genitals they have. Most people I know tend to pretty much ignore other people in the bathroom as a general principle.
This is the thing that people refuse to get. Everybody has the option to leave a bathroom or subway car they don’t feel safe in, for any reason. The cis person probably has lots of other bathrooms to choose from, while the trans person is unlikely to be safe in any of them (except the private single-person ones).
As for the whole “biologically a woman” thing, I think that’s an area where the bathroom police should say what they mean. It’s not chromosomes because no one can see your chromosomes, so I assume (Ron can correct me if I’m wrong) that it’s about genitalia. Well, like you said, some trans people have had surgery and have the expected genitalia for their gender. Some don’t. But you can’t base bathroom rules on genitalia unless you’re actually asking people to whip them out to “prove” they’re in the right bathroom. (And if I have to explain the reasons why that’s horrible, there’s just no point.) For that matter, intersex people exist. If there’s a “has a penis” bathroom and a “has a vulva” bathroom, are they just supposed to hold it indefinitely?
But the bigger point is, unless you’re at the men’s urinals, the genitalia of the person using the bathroom with you are completely irrelevant to you. You’re not going to see them. Trans women with penises don’t go exposing themselves in the ladies’ room to freak people out.
And even with urinals, there are two things that make it a non-issue. First, my understanding as someone who doesn’t go in the men’s room is that you’re supposed to keep your eyes on your own bits and that staring or talking to other people peeing is considered pretty rude. But more importantly, trans guys who don’t have penises are presumably not using the urinals, so their lack of a penis is a moot point.
It might be noticeable in passing that someone has a bulge in their pants. Depending on pants shape and body size, it might even be obvious that said bulge is an erect penis. But you’re right, in the vast majority of situations, no one should be noticing anything about anyone else’s genitals in the bathroom. And if you (generic you) do notice, your options are to politely turn away or to leave if that makes you uncomfortable.
Person with an erection in the ladies’ room is even more of a moot point because I’m pretty sure that a trans woman with an erection is going to be thinking unsexy thoughts or holding her purse so as to hide it, or otherwise doing her best to keep you from noticing it. Or she’s not using the bathroom at all. (My understanding from my husband is that trying to pee with an erection is not fun and that’s before you add social disapproval and danger of being assaulted.)
It may not be specifically and maliciously not wanting her to exist. But it’s certainly being perfectly fine with her ceasing to exist. Using the bathroom is a basic biological need. If you throw someone out of the only place they can safely use the bathroom, then you’re responsible for whatever infections and medical issues they have as a result of that. People can, in fact, die from bladder infections. If you require someone to use a bathroom that is unsafe, because they *have to pee*, and they’re assaulted, even killed, in that bathroom, then you bear some of that responsibility. Not as much responsibility as the actual attacker, but trans people being assaulted in bathrooms is a pretty predictable consequence of requiring them to use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth certificate.
And if *not even being able to freaking PEE* is the last straw that makes someone who is discriminated against in countless ways on a daily basis decide that life’s not worth living, then, yes, the person who forced them out of that bathroom shares some responsibility for their death. Not all, but some. That’s just cause and effect.
But… but… then they’d have to argue their case on its merits, and that’s just crazy talk!
I love that it’s often “I don’t trust science!” from many people, until they can quote things which sound sciency in their favor and use TLAs like “DNA” to assert a flawed understanding of human growth and development (“You’re either XX or XY and there are no other possibilities and this binary leads inevitably to development which results in a one-to-one equivalence between your DNA and your body and your brain!”)
“Evolution is just a theory, but we understand all teh sex things!”
Many of the same people are in favor of small government, and see no conflict between that principle and passing laws to sanction what happens in your bedroom, in your case you’re having the wrong kind of sex, or having it with the wrong kind of person.
People will tell you that it is, but that’s just a fallback position after the freaks swarm the outer perimeter wall labelled “DNA”.
In the end, it’s about people fearing that other people will be sexual at them. Pump the tank of male homophobia and in the sludge at the bottom you’ll find men’s fears that they might be objectified, propositioned and pressured the way they are accustomed to doing to women, or, to be very charitable, the way they’re accustomed to being totally free from, but have seen women have to deal with. You’ll also find the fear that they might accidentally have sex with another man, in the form of an attractive trans woman, and thus be Made Gay. You’ll also find the fear that these sexual tricksters might be horning in on the women and girls on whom they have a claim, or, to be very charitable, whom it is their privilege to protect. (Yes, I used the P word on purpose.) Scrape deeper, and you find the belief that women are inferior to men. Scrape deeper yet, and you find that feminine is inferior to masculine. Finally, gently suffusing it all, you’ll find a plaintive wish that things be simpler that they are, and that you should be able to tell at a glance who someone is. It would be touching and childlike if it weren’t weaponized. But it’s weaponized, because understanding complexity is hard work, and why should people have to spend that effort for a tiny minority of depraved freaks?
Everything else … references to scripture, various fallback essentialisms… it’s all is a façade. It’s a sturdy and well-maintained façade, to be sure. One of the things which maintains the façade is the understanding of anyone who does not fit the simple schema as dangerous, predatory, and arising from flaws in an otherwise good system. That’s whence arises the fear of sexual predation in bathrooms. But it’s a façade all the same.
A bump, for RonF’s sake, since I asked him direct questions and he has not replied. Ron, you’re under no obligation to reply, of course, but I think it’s worth noting that you did reply initially, and then after that people replied substantively to you, and we haven’t heard from you since. Which, on trans matters, is a noticeable pattern with you, at Alas.
Are you choosing not to reply, or have you just been busy?
Bump for RonF, since I see that he’s back and commenting. Ron, please see #28, above.