The Ugly Fantasy at the Heart of Anti–Trans Bathroom Bills

From The Nation:

Do supporters of so-called “bathroom bills” want trans people to cease to exist altogether?

By Tobias Barrington Wolff
March 25, 2016

North Carolina has now jumped to the front of the line of states pushing “bathroom bills”—laws that prohibit transgender people from using the facilities that are right for them. Here is my question for the lawmakers who enact these laws: Which facilities do you want trans people to use? Because I don’t think you have thought this through. Or let’s start with a more basic question: Are you trying to eradicate transgender people altogether? Trans people exist. They are human beings. They have just as much right to exist as you do. They are not going to disappear, and if what you really want is to make them disappear, then you are hoping for genocide. Good people don’t hope for genocide.

Let’s break this down. Some bathrooms are segregated by gender—they are limited either to men and boys or to women and girls. Some bathrooms are not, by the way. There is usually no good reason to designate single-occupancy bathrooms for “men” or “women” only, and even multiple-occupancy bathrooms do not always draw these lines. But some do, and that means sometimes we need to categorize people based on gender when they go to the bathroom. What is the best way to do that?

One answer is to respect a person’s own identity—the identity a person presents to the world through personal appearance, dress, and how the person describes himself or herself. Generally, this means that people who look like men will use men’s rooms and people who look like women will use women’s rooms. Do trans people sometimes attract attention because of their appearance? Sure, sometimes. So do people who are not trans. Imagine that a woman who is not transgender goes to use the bathroom, and someone—another woman, or a man who sees her entering the facility—gives her a hard time because she does not look feminine enough. Or imagine that a guy enters a men’s room and other people give him a hard time for having a slight frame or a soft voice. Anyone who did those things would be a jerk, right? And good people don’t act like jerks. So that’s one answer: Respect people’s identities, and recognize that the problems—if there are any—may be coming from people who are acting like jerks.

Then there is the answer that proponents of these “bathroom bills” want: Check people’s genitals. Let’s start with the obvious. That’s creepy. I don’t know the first thing about the genitals of the overwhelming majority of people I encounter, and it is not information I generally need or want. If I somehow became aware that a person’s genitals did not look like what I might vaguely have assumed, that fact would be none of my business. I cannot imagine how such information would affect any of my dealings with a friend or associate, and it creeps me out that some people think that it should.

Proponents of these “bathroom bills” often talk about protecting children. The lieutenant governor of North Carolina released a video to justify that state’s terrible new law in which he repeated the hysterical claim that policies that treat trans people respectfully would help “sex offenders and pedophiles” prey on “women and children.” This is absurd on its face. No one is allowed to lurk in a bathroom for improper reasons, regardless of gender; no policy about respecting trans people would ever change that; and protecting trans people does not put anyone else at risk. But you know who I do want to keep away from the children in my life? Anyone who spends his time trying to figure out how to pass a law that would make other people’s genitals his business.

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13 Responses to “The Ugly Fantasy at the Heart of Anti–Trans Bathroom Bills”

  1. mizknowitall Says:

    Hetrosexual Crossdressers do not belong in womens spaces! Address that and male violence and the bathroom “issue” stops being an issue!

    • Suzan Says:

      Well MzKnowNothing ain’t you just a special kind of stupid. I suppose you will be perfectly happy with hairy muscular F to M Men using the women’s room. Or with post-op women born transsexual females being forced to use the men’s room..

  2. tinasokol Says:

    I have NEVER seen a het. xdresser in the ladies room — have you? In my experience most het. xdressers do not go out in public too often. When they do, the ones I’ve seen are usually not alone, or in some 24 hr. big box store when it’s damn near empty.

    Granted, I’m not very “up” on the happenings in TV-land. IMHO, all this “men in bathrooms” thing is (as it has ALWAYS been) nothing more than a straw man (or woman) to attack ALL trans folks — ALL.

  3. Hypatia's Child Says:

    A little common sense on all sides would go a long way to defuse these issues. Or at least, at one point it would have. It is a little late now I’m afraid.

    When I transitioned, years ago now, I continued to use the men’s until my features had changed enough that I would have drawn more looks by walking in there than in the women’s. I would have been mortified to enter the women’s before that, and it was a very nervous time the first time I did it. Never mind locker rooms, which I wouldn’t have considered using during that uncomfortable “in-between” period.

    I’m afraid that some of this is inevitable pushback against some of the more extreme varieties of trans activism. Now we have people on the trans-feminine spectrum proudly declaring that their penis is female. That is simply not going to fly outside of trans-world, and ordinary people predictably find that sort of thing threatening.

    I think even laws declaring that people have the right to use the bathroom of their choice based solely on declared identity are going too far. Back in the day we dealt with that sort of thing, when necessary, with a carry letter from one’s therapist, to be brought out if anyone’s complaint went so far as to get security involved. Maybe if the law required a medical diagnosis I could support it, but I’m afraid that identity-based laws are easy pickings for the bathroom police types to raise hysteria around, as we’re seeing today.

    I really feel for people who are naturally gender-ambiguous, as the paranoia the restroom police are feeding makes using the public restroom even riskier for them than it always was.

    • Suzan Says:

      Not well thought out Hypathia… First of all This applies to everyone. This means hairy muscular F to Ms have to use the women’s room and you or I would be legally required to use the men’s room.

      Further it has nothing what so ever to do with the protecting of women. The dickwads who enacted this are women hating misogynistic pigs who enact laws prohibiting health plans from paying for women’s birth control, but would howl like wolves were the same health care plans not pay for erection pills.

      These same pieces of shit are trying to outlaw abortion.

      They adamantly refuse to support any measures mandating equal pay or anything that would actually benefit women.

      This has zero to do with “Trans-activists” it has everything to do with pandering to a nasty Christo-Nazi diminishing political base. Many wouldn’t be in officer were it not for gerrymandering that took place back when politically stupid people voted for Ralph Nader instead of Gore because Nader represented “real change” and Gore represented the establishment.

  4. Hypatia's Child Says:

    Well I don’t think the Xtian right political base is shrinking, but other than that I don’t disagree — of course the Xtian right is behind measures like this. In the end the courts will have to decide whether NC’s new law violates constitutional protections. I’m just afraid that things have gone so far in trans fantasy land that they’ve begun alienating people who are politically not part of the fringe right and giving laws like this a fair amount of popular support. I predict we’ll see more of these laws elsewhere in the South in the next few years, and maybe in the rust belt as well, unless one of them is challenged before the Supreme Court and is ruled against solidly.

  5. Edith Pilkington Says:

    I am pretty sure if you have either a new or updated birth certificate you can use the facility that corresponds with the new designation on a birth certificate. I am not sure how much irony there is involved with this. I think Rhode Island has changed the law to allow a b/c change w/out genital surgery. Tennessee, which is right next door, still doesn’t allow the sex marker change under any circumstances. So, someone like me wouldn’t fit that category because I was born in Memphis but someone born in R I, where I’ve live most of my life, who hasn’t “had their rights violated” by the genital surgery requirement(as Lamda Legal put it in a Washington Post article on the subject) will be allowed to without question. However, someone like me, who even may live just across the border in the Smokies, won’t be legally allowed to and could be discriminated against in a work environment, even if they were able to live most of their lives unmolested where they live anonymously as women or men. Some of us are very dependent on the unbiased kindness of strangers.

    How much effort have any of these LGBT groups put into advocating for post transsexual people in Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee? None, from what I can tell. Actually, it seems efforts have run counter. I think that is dismissive and has further implications but I agree with you, of course, about the motives and character of those behind this legislation and just how wrong it is in so many of its aspects but not without many more “buts”.

    • Suzan Says:

      Actually no. You are and will always remain the sex you were assigned at birth in North Carolina. These are the measures being pushed by the right wing Chriasto-Nazis. But these measure go beyond that and also forbid any cities from enacting any LGBT anti-discrimination measures.

      This is not the fault of LGBT groups. This is the fault of the Nazis who call themselves Republicans. And people like Jenner who support them.

      All that aside when we have left wing assholes like Susan Sarandon who will pout and support Trump if Hillary get the nomination then we have what Stalin used to refer to as “Useful Idiots” facilitating the rise of a bunch of Christo-Nazis who are little different from ISIS.

      • Hypatia's Child Says:

        Unless things have changed in NC since their last update in February 2015, Lambda Legal supports what Edith wrote. They say that to get a corrected sex marker on your BC requires SRS and a notarized statement from a physician, but it is (was?) possible. I’m sure the Xtian right would like to repeal that statute and I guess it’s possible they already have, but I’ve yet to see a reference that proves it. There have also been references to the changed BC exception in a number of news articles about the new law, with no mention of a change in the policy for changing BC in NC.

        • Suzan Says:

          From everything I have read these Christo-Nazi dickwads are using sex assigned at birth which they consider ordained by an imaginary sky daddy who never makes mistakes and as being set in stone.

      • Edith Pilkington Says:

        Hi Suzan,

        I first want to make it clear that the N C bill would make travel very difficult for me. I don’t want to get into that too far because it has been a can of worms for me at this forum. But the fact is, I don’t travel alone and if I did travel to N C I would be more possibly than not be perceived as a lesbian even if my partner and I are almost always perceived as friends. As I stated, I don’t want to get into that too far because it is too complicated an issue. The fact is, most of the info coming out of N C is distorted as far as being transsexual or transgender or whatever you want to call it is concerned(I refuse to call myself trans. One of the reason is that it’s hard to avoid these kind of distortions if you are referred to that way). What you say may be true of the law in Mississippi but the governor’s office in N C has this to say about the horrible law they enacted:

        >>>”6. Does this bill mean transgender people will always have to use the restroom of the sex of their birth, even if they have undergone a sex change?

        Answer: No. This law simply says people must use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. Anyone who has undergone a sex change can change their sex on their birth certificate.”

        Here’s the link, even though last time I tried it it was broken:<<<

        I don't know how far a limb I am putting myself out on a limb by saying this but I think these kinds of distortions are telling. So are portrayals of medical interventions by certain activists narrowly focused on their own interests. Regardless, in all this I hope I don't end up being perceived as some kind of late for dinner gender cop because I am not. I think I am forced to walk a very fine line, though.

        • Suzan Says:

          I am far less inclined to trust the lying scum who passed this bill on its impact than I am to believe Lambda Legal.

  6. tinasokol Says:

    Add to all this, the bill forbids any city to enact any anti-discrimination, pro LGBT bills. This entire bathroom thing is just a way to deny rights to ALL LGBT folks. The entire thing is a right-wing-Christo-Nazi’s wet dream. The entire trans thing was just the convenient straw man to get the ball rolling. “Hairy man in a dress in the ladies room” (which I’ve never seen) is a dangerous ploy in places like Texas where the number of women with concealed carry permits has soared.

    The very anti-trans lesbians who support this might well be victimized by it. Last time I looked, they are also a part (more or less) of the LGBT, etc., etc., etc., world.

    What they are prohibiting in N.C. has never happened.

    By the way this bill also forbids equal pay laws, and forbids cities from raising their minimum wage, etc. It forbids a whole lot of stuff — all because of a “hairy man in a dress” fantasy.

    I suggest all the folks who support it move to N.C — maybe you can patrol bathrooms to insure no FtM’s or MtF’s try to pee or more. It might just be a wonderful job opportunity.

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