This is one of those controversies I only hesitantly get involved with. Given the current political climate my take on things guarantees pretty much no one will be happy with my opinion here. But *deep breath* here goes.
Apart from posturing on both sides of the political equation it really boils down to the issue of “passing”. Essentially, if an individual raises alarm bells because their physical presence doesn’t quite match up with their inner perception of themselves as male or female then there is a “potential” for conflict.
Note, this controversy is almost exclusively restricted to biological males using the women’s facilities as opposed to the other way round; and here the “biological” refers to the normative XY XX dichotomy and not chromosomal variants i.e., intersex individuals.
Conservative minded folks may stress repeatedly that gender dysphoria is a mental health issue and that to cave into the demands of the LGBTQ crowd is sanctioning mental sickness. Nonetheless, when encountering Trans individuals that “pass” there is no “triggering” because the transgender person basically goes under the radar.
Take a look …
The ladies above will garner attention by virtue of their obvious beauty but certainly not with regards to their gender. They look and behave as our society expects women to do so. Yes, they are exceptionally beautiful and I selected them specifically for the sake of argument insomuch as any fair minded individual would accept their status as females.
Of course any conservative based argument that says well they are still XY males therefore they are men no matter what they say is on every practical level irrelevant. Simply put, you would never know they were born male unless somehow their personal stories were known.
By way of contrast….
I am keenly aware of the sensitivity required when addressing this issue so rather than select an actual trans person I have selected two of my favorite fictional gender bending icons, Emily Howard and Florence (David Walliams and Matt Lucas respectively).
Yes, they are over-the-top in every way imaginable but again they suit my purposes here. No one would ever take these two as female; although they protest with applaudable verve (“But we’re Lay-deeees”) only to fail magnificently and repeatedly to comedic affect.
The Transgender community is acutely aware of the problems generated by the pressure to pass and whether consciously or not have sought to undo the status quo by opposing the gender-binary of male and female. Unfortunately, and predictably this has both irritated, confused, and annoyed staunch conservatives.
So from the sublime to the ridiculous we go. Below is a Huff Post article (chosen for its sympathetic take on LGBTQ issues)
Once the gender binary is done away with it opens the field to a seemingly endless variety of gender classifications that no one can honestly be expected to adhere to let alone, memorize. I think the average person can understand the notion of the “butch-dyke” or the “sissy-boy”. Both types fall outside normative expectations of male and female behavior. However, neither of them have their actual sex in doubt. It is simply understood that they are gender minorities.
It quickly becomes apparent that far from simply acknowledging the need that all of us need to access the washroom from time to time there is a lot more being rolled up into all of this. Are we now to have 33 different washroom designations in order to accommodate this growing number of gender identities? Clearly, that is as improbable a solution as it is a practical impossibility.
Canadian academic, Jordan Peterson, has generated global headlines as a result of his refusal to bend to the wishes of students demanding he address them by a number of newly constructed gender pronouns. Below are a list of some of them:
Peterson sees this as nonsensical at best and dictatorial at its worst. Very real legal consequences are at play for anyone refusing to adhere to the newly instituted laws governing the use of this language. New York, for example, has established strict penalties for anyone bold or arrogant enough to flaunt the new laws:
And this isn’t just the government as employer, requiring its employees to say things that keep government patrons happy with government services. This is the government as sovereign, threatening “civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct” if people don’t speak the way the government tells them to speak. Nor is this likely to stay in New York City: The New York officials are arguing that this is just what the New York gender identity discrimination ban requires, and indeed it is part of the standard ideology expressed by many transgender rights activists; the same logic would be easily applicable by jurisdictions that have gender identity discrimination bans, or will have such bans; the federal government is taking the view that existing federal bans on sex discrimination also in effect ban gender identity discrimination, and the New York analysis would equally apply to that view; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already taken the view that it is illegal under federal law to persistently call employees by pronouns that correspond to their anatomical sex but not their gender identity, though it has not yet had occasion to opine about “ze.”
The political Right is not immune to excesses in relation to all this either. One refrain I see repeated is that sexual predators seeing a security hole in public washroom access will begin donning frocks and bloomers in order to perpetrate their vile desires upon unsuspecting females of all ages.
Personally I believe the fear is overblown and misdirected despite Breitbart’s intentions to illustrate otherwise:
The problem is that anyone determined enough to perpetrate a sexual crime can do so. Conservatives have repeatedly said that “Gun control only works to keep weapons from the hands of law abiding citizens”. In much the same way, keeping trans-women from using female facilities will only inconvenience and possibly endanger them by forcing them to use male restrooms. And no, “They’re a bunch of perverts that deserve what they get” doesn’t cut it. If one reads the Breitbart article only a handful tried to use the bloomers and “I’m a transsexual” defense. Again, enough sexual crime and illegal photography in women’s washrooms occurs without resorting to playing “the tranny-bathroom card.”
Kindness and compassion go a long way. However, it needs to be demonstrated on all sides of the political spectrum. I believe a rejection of the gender binary is a mistake. However, I have said previously that I opt for a social definition of gender. If a person looks, acts, functions in a given gender role then most people get on board with it.
I have friends from all walks of life with various ideological and conflicting beliefs. For most (if not all of them) my sexual identity and gender expression are a non-issue. I am frequently told, “I don’t even think about it. You’re just Rachel“
And one final note on all this… cause I think I need to go use a washroom… these laws really do affect everyone and cut both ways.
And in response to this poster I say: “God I hope not!” 😀