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May 31

Transgender Bathrooms: Both Sides Miss the Other Side’s Argument

Transgender Bathrooms: Both Sides Miss the Other Side’s Argument

In recent months there has been a lot of debate about transgender individuals using the bathroom opposite their birth sex. Both sides have legitimate arguments and in an effort to support their own position at all costs, neither side seems to be listening to the other side. Let’s examine both sides, how they’re misunderstood and how we might make a better law than either side proposes.

Those opposing the possibility of transgender individuals switching bathrooms often mention the idea that creeps could take advantage of this law to get into the opposite bathroom and spy on people for their own sexual gratification. The other side hears this and complains that all trans people are being called creeps… but that isn’t the point at all! The point is that without some clear regulation on who’s trans, such laws leave it open for non-trans people to fake being trans for reasons that we all realize are improper.

Those arguing for the ability of transgender individuals to access the opposite restroom, point out the most convincing trans individuals, usually those who have undergone hormone therapy and/or surgery. If you look at these individuals, I doubt many of us would class them in their birth sex, and honestly most of us would be creeped out if they showed up in a bathroom for that sex. The other side kind of ignores these significant physiological changes that have been artificially done and insists on natural biological sex.

Even though I realize it is impossible to change one’s ontological sex, I see a certain truth about making bathrooms based on a kind of physiological sex as kind be seen because bathrooms are based on function of waste-excreting organs not the reality of ontological sex.

Currently the options in public discourse seem to be either anyone in any bathroom because they say so, or basing in on birth certificates. I think there are 2 better options. We could leave it was the status quo until recently where the facility manager was left the freedom to exercise prudence in who let into each bathroom – this involves not just trans individuals but caregivers with children or disabled adults. We could also have some possibility of changing the sex on your driver’s license, but only after hormones and/or therapy, and base it on that. I prefer the former as I assume 99.99% of people will be rational to distinguish between a legitimate trans individual and a creep trying to get into the other bathroom. I refer here to adult bathrooms: since gender dysphoria (or gender identity disorder) in kids has over an 80% remission rate, we should try to help young people overcome this rather than encourage them on this path; adults who’ve had GD (or GID) for a period of time, on the other hand have a very low remission rate so we assume this is their permanent status.

  • Ellen

    We just need individual bathrooms. Anything else throws human beings into making up approaches to manage what is ultimately a departure from reality.
    The opposition has reality and risk to women on its side, and we wouldn’t want to ignore either. Individual bathrooms supports what is right and safe, and does not mandate accommodating confusion and supporting yet the next movement down the slippery slope we’ve been on for 50 years.
    The supporters have the acknowledgement that many of these individuals have changed to such a degree with surgery and hormones that the opposite bathroom makes sense and, as you said, they would look odd in their own bathroom. Individual bathrooms would prevent anyone from having to deal with questions or awkwardness.
    The article below articulated that this is not a transender issue- it is a gender fluid one. It changes how one might look at the problem. I think looking at public restrooms in a different way is in order.
    http://dailysignal.com/2016/05/16/a-former-transgender-persons-take-on-obamas-bathroom-directive/

    • At places adults are like workplaces, I’ve heard of a trend to mixed sinks with full door bathrooms. That would be a good option for many places.

  • Gwen

    Transgender lady here, in the early stages of transition. I think this is a great post!

    I agree that *in the private sector*, the person who owns the bathroom should be allowed to make the rules. When I first starting presenting female, I asked the managers at the places I shopped most often what their bathroom policies were. All of them were cool with me using the women’s room. But if I ever find a business that isn’t, I can find another place to shop.

    I’m more afraid of discrimination in the public sector. Because the government doesn’t have to worry about losing business from transgender people, it is free to be a bigoted as voters want. Bills like North Carolina’s PFPS act would ban me from state owned women’s bathrooms, even though I have a physicians notice saying that I am transitioning. Most states require genital reassignment surgery ($20,000, rarely covered by insurance) to get your birth certificate changed, and four states will never change birth certificate *at all*. To ask me to get my birth certificate changed before I use the women’s room is unreasonable. The fact that I have estrogen pills in my purse should be enough.

    (If you really really want some sort of government document to prove I’m transgender, ask for my passport. The Department of State will provide gender-affirming passports to transgender people who mail in a physicians note. The physician has to provide her full name and licence number and verify that you have completed or are in the process of transitioning. But it doesn’t require surgery, which many trans people are unable to get.)