I don’t know the proper language to use for many trans issues and what is/isn’t offensive, so please pardon my ignorance.
The whole matter of transgender people using their self-selected restroom has been a pretty easy matter for me. I didn’t much care. Indeed, for the most part, my heart goes out to people in the trans community. Frankly I can only imagine how difficult it must be to navigate any aspect of life being trans and don’t exactly see a need to make restrooms more difficult.
The bulk of the people taking a stand on this in the pro-trans community are not doing so with any intellectual honesty. Instead of actually taking a thought out position, what we have are people staking out battle lines and using this issue as one to demonstrate ideological purity. And herein is where I think we all need to take a step back and consider this issue in practice, as opposed to how it makes us feel.
Look, being on the “progressive” side of the issue makes me feel good. “Look at me, everyone! I’m sooooo tolerant. Why can’t you be more like me?” That’s the message that is being sent by the vast majority of people taking a stand on this issue. And yet, how many of these people actually know someone who is trans?
But, despite that fact, should I send my young daughter into a public restroom, and a few minutes later out walks someone who looks biologically male to me I’m going to get a red flag and immediately become concerned for her security. And if a person allows their fear of no longer being able to feel themselves to be paragons of tolerance to trump their concern for their child’s security, then a greater shame be upon them.
Just as with others’ religions, let us be tolerant, but let us not be fools. If a person who seems to me to be a man suggests to me that he’s a woman, then I say good for you. I will treat you as a lady, despite what my eyes and instincts tell me. It is no burden to me, and a basic social kindness we can all exhibit. However, I would ask those in the trans community to be good neighbors, and not be surprised if I’m perhaps hypervigilant when the security of my children are at stake.
The problem here is, well, straight men. I’m saying this as a straight man. And when I say this is a problem, I’m referring only to this issue. To get men to stop being men would end this problem, but it would also cost all the awesome things that us men do. Cultural American-style manhood is a cost benefit analysis, and its benefits far outweigh the cost. You want to emasculate us? Well, say goodbye to winning wars, kicking diseases in the ass, and planting flags on distant lands.
But, again, it’s men that are the problem here. Let a woman come into the men’s room, hike up her skirt at the urinal next to a man and it’d be awkward, but it’s not likely to end in trouble. The example chosen is repeatedly the non-passable “man” in the ladies’ room. The internet is awash with people, many of whom are otherwise wonderful people, reveling over the opportunity to visit violence on someone in that situation. Why are we here? How did we get to this place?
It’s back to identity politics. Many conservatives aren’t concerned with the trans woman in the women’s room. They’re concerned about the creepy guy taking advantage of simple verbal gender fluidity. And whether you want to admit it or not, there is no shortage of creepy guys willing to do this. If you’re ready to be shocked, look up your local sex offender registry. They’re everywhere. And they’re overwhelmingly adult males. But this position has been twisted to one that is not allowing trans people to use their appropriate restroom. And once a man has been called a bigot or put in a position where he feels he’s been told he has to do something, you should expect him to dig in. The first cries of “bigot” are when this matter was sure to go off the rails. People are told that they must find Caitlyn Jenner attractive or else they’re bad people, nevermind the fact that there’s never been a 66 year old woman most of us would want to fly into bed with. My guess is that Jennifer Aniston will end up the only woman men will be willing to fistfight over when she’s 66.
As always, my plea is the same. Take a minute to hear a person out, and assume the best of their intentions. Conservatives need to show a little more damn empathy with what the trans community endures, and they need to articulate their position better. Honestly I haven’t heard a conservative actually address the reality of where they expect a person who clearly passes as their new gender to go in a public restroom. If you’re addressing the transgender matter then using the creepy guy is a strawman. If you’re addressing the creepy guy matter then you need to address what you actually expect a trans person to do.
Progressives need to take a step back before passing judgment and ask what they would actually do in the creepy guy scenario before judging conservatives and jumping to calling them bigots. And the trans community needs to understand that they’re a minority. That means most of us don’t understand what they’re dealing with. It’s no different than how vets need to chill about civilians mistaking the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. People just don’t know. They’re not trying to be rude. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with us, but give us a break as we work through this. We’re trying.
And last I’d like to point out that out of everything I’ve seen and heard on this matter over the last few months, it was listening to a professional fighter, fight commentator and comedian (I like how this works without an Oxford comma!) that provided the best conversation on the matter to date. It starts at the 50 minute mark: