Let’s have a conversation about public restrooms. I hesitate to call them “bathrooms” as we generally don’t bathe in public. I guess they really aren’t for resting either, but polite conversation prohibits me from calling them “poo palaces” or worse. My vote is for the English, non-descriptive word “loo” when referring to necessary rooms. But for my sake, let’s stick to “restrooms”.
We can find the most inane issues about which we choose to go berserk. Transgender humans are not a new phenomenon. They are just the most recent minority rightly asking for civil rights. Transgender human beings have been quietly around forever. We first started hearing about their lot in life in the early 1950s when George Jorgensen, after serving a stint in the military, went to Denmark to engage in the newly authorized transgender transition surgery. George returned to New York and a New York Daily News cover story as Christine Jorgensen.
Twenty-five years passed before Richard Raskind, a New York ophthalmologist and reasonably talented tennis player, underwent reassignment surgery and emerged as Renee Richards. She applied for and, naturally, was denied entry into the women’s division of the U. S. Open Tennis Championship in 1976. The subsequent New York Supreme Court decision in her favor put transgender issues back on the front page.
Public acknowledgement of transgender people largely disappeared until the last ten years when minority groups started becoming more vocal about civil rights and the acronym LGBT, the T standing for transgender, began being used as a catchall for non-heterosexuals. Estimates put more than eight million Americans, or 3.5% in the LGBT category. Some 700,000 of those, or a mere 0.3% identify as T.
To put these numbers into perspective, if you were at a rock concert and went into the restroom with 99 other people, one third of a person in that restroom would be transgender. You’d have to cram in 200 more people to make one of them, on average, transgender. We’re not talking about throngs here.
All this time, transgender humans have chosen the restroom that is most comfortable for them and no one has noticed. The reason–no one ever identified a transgender person doing anything aberrant in a public restroom. In fact, it is rare when anyone can identify a transgender person in a public–period. Part of the culture of transgender folks is that they choose to look like the gender with which they identify, not stand out as different, and generally do a really good job of taking pride in their appearance.
We are currently engaged in a political solution seeking a problem. Much like the noise about voter fraud, transgender misuse of public restrooms is non-existent.
I agree with President Obama way more than I disagree, but his request that public schools allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choice is wrong in that it has given a forum for an issue that should not be adjudicated. Even though his utterance was not an edict and was spurred by requests from states for some guidance, his adding the threat of schools losing federal funding for noncompliance was a step too far. The president must have known any statement by him would cause a firestorm from the professional objectionists.
Bathroom use issues have become a metaphor for the Republican tradition of spewing fear to negate any cause President Obama champions. I do not think the crux of this debate has nearly as much to do with restrooms as it does with politics in the United States. Transgender individuals are innocent bystanders who are unwittingly and unjustly being demonized for the benefit of those who want to keep government officials dealing with trivia instead of real political issues.
If you have ever pledged into a social society, part of the initiation hazing may have included being blindfolded and forced to eat an apple while smelling an onion. Our human minds are stronger than any other bodily function and the smell of the onion convinces our brains that the sweet, juicy apple is pungent and strong, causing eyes to water and taste buds to abdicate. Likewise, transsexual individuals have the mindset of their chosen gender, not their birth body. They feel comfortable and confident in their sexuality and should not be forced into any situation that will make them feel embarrassed or may cause trauma to themselves when none will be imparted on anyone else.
The federal government should not make laws regarding restroom usage, and neither should states, cities, schools, or any other entity. This is universally a personal decision. There is no problem here.