Transphobia Goes to the Toilet
The far right is always looking for something to get hysterical about, whether it’s gun legislation, abortion, or gay people. The latest thing that’s got their knickers in a wad is transgender people who wish to use a restroom corresponding to their gender identification. OhmyGod what’s next, dogs marrying cats? It’s the end of civilization. What’s to stop a horny high school boy from “identifying” as female so he can try out for the girls’ basketball team and take showers with them? How about the 40-year-old pervert who wants to hang out in the restroom with your daughter? This paranoid fantasy is so goofy even Fox (alleged) News’ Chris Wallace noted that Politifact has yet to find a single instance of dirty old men in women’s restrooms, saying that state laws like the recent one in North Carolina are “a solution in search of a problem.”
It is with delight that I can report that people with male genitals who identify and also present as women have been using women’s restrooms for many, many years. I’ll just pause here for a moment while the Republicans light their hair on fire. Go ahead, fire it up. I love the smell of burning Republican hair in the morning! Smells like victory. Oh, I know what you’re thinking now, because you’re mostly not very bright and it’s pretty easy to stay one step ahead of you without missing my afternoon nap. We need gender police! We’ll need one outside of every restroom (because they’re the “job creators’). “ ‘Scuse me, Miss, but could you just lift up your skirt and pull down your pantyhose? I have to, uh, check your lutessibles.” And of course he’ll be that 40-year old pervert!
Many people would say they should go where their plumbing takes them, and just deal with it, and if that’s the worst thing they have to worry about as a transgender person, they’re getting off easy. But not so fast. Say a person is a transgender female, meaning she was born male but now identifies and presents as female. Walking into the Men’s Room could be troublesome for her, and the same goes for the opposite scenario. Yet many new “bathroom” laws would mandate that. There are other considerations too. Let’s go back to that horny teenage boy. Let’s say he really does self-indentify as female. Does her right to take a shower with the gender she identifies with trump the rights of all those girls in the shower not to be embarrassed? I don’t think so. Here we have one of the central tragedies of America today; we have become a society of self-absorbed people who only think of ourselves, and not about what effects their own actions can have on others. Transgender people aren’t immune to this malady either, any more than anyone else. I realize these are tricky issues in a time when so many are ready to take offense at anything at all.
One solution is gender neutral rest rooms (formerly unisex), a “movement” that was already on the increase. Separate shower facilities will be more difficult, and expensive. Nor can we just lump trans men or trans women into a convenient category; they are each individuals, and deserve the same dignity and respect as anyone else. That’s a pretty tall order in 2016 America. Conservatives are already freaked out enough by gays and lesbians, and then these transgender people come along and creep them out. It makes them feel all oogy. Change and evolution is a real bitch, isn’t it? It isn’t as if transgender people are brand new; they’ve been around for thousands of years. I remember a tennis player, Dr. Renee Richards, in the 1960s, who transgendered to female and was denied participation in professional women’s tennis. It seems, though, that the population of trans people has exploded in recent years. The LGBTQ community may argue otherwise, saying they’ve always been there, and changing social structure has allowed people to express themselves in ways that were socially forbidden before. Another current idea raises questions about environmental factors, involving what are known as endocrine disruptors.
Wryly Coyote has addressed two of the main culprits in past posts, “The Phthalate, Great American Male” (Archives, Apr. 2012), and “Glyphosate: the Chemical from Hell” (Archives, Apr. 2015). In both cases these chemicals have saturated the environment, including the food web. Phthalates are a form of plastics (all of which are ECDs, or endocrine disruptors), along with BisphenolA, or BPA, which have serious effects on our hormones. Glyphosate is even more so, the central ingredient in Monsanto’s Round Up herbicide. Numerous studies on the effect of these chemicals on wildlife have brought us demasculinization or defeminization in frogs and turtles, crabs that have switched sexes, and birds becoming more, well, gender fluid. Mostly though, they mimic the female hormone estrogen. Would that help explain why there are roughly three times as many male-to-female transitions as female-to-male? It’s an interesting correlation. Exposure to these toxins affects embryonic development, when a combination of hormones and chromosomes is assigning gender to the individual. Too much estrogen (BPA mimics estrogen) in a male developing fetus can add feminizing characteristics. Sadly, there have been very few studies of ECDs and their affect on developing human fetuses. The LGBTQ community isn’t wild about the idea, and I can understand why. The implication is that if we get rid of the environmental pollutants, maybe “they” will go away, too.
Rigid traditional gender roles, all male or all female, blue for boys and pink for girls, are being challenged more than ever by evolving social mores open to the possibility of gray areas. Maybe it’s that more people are realizing that each of us is has both masculine and feminine aspects. As an artist, I have to be in touch with the more feminine characteristics of receptivity and intuition. I always get better results whether it’s writing, painting, or music. When I’m mowing the lawn or doing other labor that calls for positive and aggressive action, then I wear my man hat. Maybe people today, especially the young, don’t want to be pinned down and categorized, and so they’re exploring their roles in society. That would include gender roles as well.
I don’t know how I got through that minefield without blowing myself up (maybe I did), but I’m feeling especially generous today. So just for you evangelicals masquerading as Christians, I’m going to assuage your fears about the terrible transsexual plague you feel is upon you. I’m going to give you some things you should really be worried about. You can thank me later.
Do you know that at our present rate of usage, that by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic by weight, than all of the fish? You couldn’t care less? Alright. Remember the 2008 financial meltdown, when the entire economy nearly collapsed? Nothing has been done to address the causes, and so it could happen again, any day now.
I know you’re concerned by the threat of radicalized, jihadist, extremist Islamicist demons who are hiding under your bed. Did you know that you have a better chance of being killed by a vending machine falling on you than you do by Islamic terrorists? So the next time you paid a dollar and that bag of M & Ms got hung up, just walk away. Let it go.
There are about 2000 drunken asteroids careening around near Earth’s orbit, and those are the ones we know about. There could be a big one heading for us right now, and even if we detect it, we lack the technology to do anything about it. A rock about 6 miles in diameter took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and it would take us out, too. That’s something worth worrying about. So are giant solar flares, a fairly common occurrence. If one of these “coronal mass ejections” were to hit Earth directly, it would instantly fry our entire grid, to say nothing of our communications satellites. Something like this happened in 1859. It was called the Carrington Event, and it toasted the telegraph system. Imagine suddenly being without internet access, any kind of phone reception, electric power, the whole works. It would take years to repair the infrastructure, but meanwhile we’d all be living in a new dark age. Worry about that maybe. Until the asteroid or solar flare hits, you can worry about someone hacking into your bank account, or even your car — while you’re driving it! That has already happened, and will happen with driverless cars, too.
This whole kerfuffle over people using rest rooms is just another wedge issue. Conservatives haven’t had a good idea since Eisenhower, so they always dream up these paranoias to push peoples’ buttons. They’re meant only get the base out to vote. They know people are more motivated by emotion than reason. Don’t bite. Even Fox News blew the whistle on this bathroom bogeyman. The best defense against such fear tactics is rationality and tolerance. Unfortunately, these two commodities seem to be in short supply.