Disclaimer: this post is the result of an actual recent conversation about transgender bathrooms. The other party has read the post and confirms that it summarizes our conversation and might be helpful to others. He also remarked that it’s less “shouty” than what I unleashed on him in person. No, I will not reveal his identity. He’s suffered enough. Bless his heart. But good news – it’s not about you. Unless you’re that one guy who already knows it’s about him. If you feel offended by this post, an interesting question to ask yourself might be “Why?”
First, welcome to this conversation. Grab a cup of coffee. And good luck (or God be with you, if you prefer).
I admit up front that you are at a disadvantage, because you have higher expectations for said conversation than I do. While you expect the outcome of this exchange to be the complete change of my mind on the subject, I merely expect you to understand my mind on the subject. I have no delusions that I’m going to change your worldview. I understand that you believe that male-female is either-or, constant, and unwavering, and you believe that God doesn’t make mistakes (although neither do I, but I also believe that sometimes people are born with birth defects and childhood leukemia and various other difficulties and that these conditions do not diminish the value of the human who happens to have been born with them and are certainly not causes for mockery or disdain but rather compassion and an attempt at understanding through the magic of listening. To preview, this is similar* to the way I view gender dysphoria.).
*in the sense that experiencing gender dysphoria is no more an issue of morality/measure of faith (which is, at best, what is implied by that particular cliche) than suffering from one of the physical afflictions given would be.
(Also, I’d like to state for the record that my view of gender dysphoria is inherently limited to listening to those with the experience, as I have not had the experience myself. So if you really want to understand, listen to them instead. Individual experiences vary broadly and deeply. Therefore, to truly increase understanding one must read/listen broadly and deeply.)
(Also, stop using bumper sticker slogans like “God doesn’t make mistakes” or the more colloquial “God don’t make no junk” as arguments. As your friend, I’d like to believe that’s beneath you. It makes you look the opposite of clever. Stop trying to derail the conversation with a sound bite.)
Second, I would propose that, before you say another word on the subject of transgender people and their experience/restroom usage, please know the vocabulary. For example, know the difference between gender expression and gender identity, and the difference between transgender and transsexual. Know the definitions of the terms cisgender, gender non-conforming, and genderqueer. If I use these terms and you are confused, that tells me that you don’t really know enough about the subject to have an informed opinion, so continuing the conversation is not going to be very useful. It’s really not so much to ask that you have knowledge of a point of view before you say you disagree with it. To fail to do this before even forming – much less voicing – an opinion on the subject is to be the reason we still have an electoral college. With the whole of the Internet literally at the tips of your fingers, it is inexcusable for the populace to be uninformed. You don’t get a pass because we pray together.
And no, I will not simply tell you the answers. You have to care enough to find them. I didn’t do your homework for you in junior high, and I’m not going to do it for you now.
Fine. I’ll just leave this here. Go read it. I’ll wait.
Third, we base our opposing viewpoints on a shared value. We both want kids in schools to be safe. I believe this about you. I believe that this is your heartfelt concern. I honor that concern.
In this situation, though, cisgender students are not the ones in danger. I mean, yes, the world is a dangerous, scary place to send your kids in general. But sexual assaults against minors are more typically at the hands of an adult they know and trust than at the hands of the freaked out transgender girl who, in addition to undergoing all the other hells of teenage life, also has to deal with not feeling at home in her own body.
A friend (who has bravely given permission for me to tell this story) once described for me what it was like for her to be that freaked out girl in high school. If she entered the girls’ room, she was taunted and teased and on more than one occasion, pummeled with trash from the women’s hygiene receptacles in the stalls. But she endured that, because the last time she used the boys’ room (the “correct” one, according to her birth certificate), she was pinned against the wall, groped, and told, “The next time I catch you in here, I’m going to treat you like a girl, since you want to be one.” Now, clearly these were nasty children who probably didn’t limit their bullying and crimes to their transgender peers (and are now adults who are lucky I don’t know their names), and the idea that treating someone like a girl means sexually assaulting her is certainly a disturbing mindset on its own, but that doesn’t change the reason my friend was singled out. When she reported it, nothing was done. When I asked her if she would have preferred the risk of going into a family bathroom or a gender neutral one, she emphatically said that she would. The bullies still would have bullied her, but at least then she could have peed in safety behind a locked door.
What she would have liked more is an authority figure who actually protected her.
Of course I care about student safety. In fact, that’s pretty much my whole point.
And last, if you respond to the previous story with a flippant, “Well, that’s just what happens when you’re different,” instead of being appalled that my friend had no place to go – no advocate – not even the school officials – at her high school, don’t waste your time trying to discuss anything on the grounds of morality with me, because it’s going to be a long, hard road just trying to convince me that you have any morality on which to base your opinions.
And yes – I will get shouty about it.