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Separate but (Un)equal: Trans Bathroom Edition

October 7, 2013

Last week, I wrote an article that appeared on the Huffington Post, titled, The Coming Storm: ‘Controversial’ Transgender Stories. The point of the article was to highlight the beginning of what will surely be a long line of stories related to transgender kids in California over the next year, as AB1266 goes into effect.

Students of bigoted or ignorant parents will be pulled from classes, transgender children will become the scapegoat for a slew of nastiness, and most importantly: the media will continue to treat this as a “both sides have a valid point,” type of argument.

I’ve stopped participating in the comments sections of my articles as I’ve learned that most people are inflexible in their views and will only use participation of the author as an excuse to throw more weight behind their already insufferable opinions, however, I do still read the comments.

One common theme in the comments of that article was this: a lot of these so-called “progressive” minds (“Hey! I even voted ‘No’ on Prop 8!” – congrats, here’s a cookie) see no problem with going back to the “separate but equal” culture of Civil Rights era 1960s.

“Wouldn’t it be better if places had a separate transgender-only bathroom? This way, no would would feel uncomfortable.”

Well, sure, in theory, creating separate spaces to shield people from things that make them uncomfortable sounds like a reasonable way to keep the potentially inconvenienced feeling safe. Unfortunately, in practice, this isn’t how it works. See the below examples:

Much like segregation on the basis of race, segregation on the basis of gender identity creates a “separate but (un)equal” situation. I’m sure there were (and still are) white people who feel uncomfortable when in they’re put in a situation that includes people of color. Know what they have to do? They have to deal with it. We don’t have “whites only” water fountains, bathrooms, lunch counters, etc. anymore. We don’t cater to the irrationally afraid.

If someone suggested re-instituting race segregated spaces, it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of the internet would turn against them, condemning their actions as being based in bigotry.

You don’t see large, mainstream groups of people going after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, nor would some of these “I’m all for equality, but…” individuals stand by and watch the country slip back into segregation. Why? Because it’s generally understood that the human rights of one person come before another’s “discomfort.”

If you oppose the right to transgender people to have safe access to restrooms, you cannot, in good faith, call yourself anything but a hypocrite.

(Edit: of course, none of this is meant to imply that racism is a thing of the past. The point being made here was solely in regards to public accommodations regulations)

Another argument that tends to take hold in the comments sections of my articles is a case that children “shouldn’t have to be exposed to a trans person’s genitals.” I’m inclined to agree, but only if we broaden that. Children shouldn’t be exposed to anyone’s genitals.

What kind of locker rooms and bathrooms did you, as a child, find yourself in where it was wall-to-wall genitals? Really, please, tell me. I can’t remember a time where I saw what was in someone’s pants. If, when you use the restroom, you’re seeing a lot of penis or a lot of vagina, I think you’re doing it wrong.

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4 Responses to “Separate but (Un)equal: Trans Bathroom Edition”

  1. doubleinvert Says:

    “If, when you use the restroom, you’re seeing a lot of penis or a lot of vagina, I think you’re doing it wrong.”

    Precisely. What on Earth do they think we’re doing in restrooms?

    -Connie

  2. Minder Says:

    The modern transgender movement is NOT like the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. There are plenty of reasons why this is messed up, but the main one is probably that you’re co-opting the legitimate struggle of people of color and misapplying the analogy to cover a group of people who demand that everyone suspend their perception of reality to accommodate them. It’s simply not the same thing at all, and as a TS woman myself, I’m asking that the trans community stop with this (I know you’re not the only one who has played this bogus card, Parker; Cristan Williams among others thinks it’s a slam dunk, too). It’s appropriative and insulting to a group of people who have already had quite enough of that.

    And again with this whole “women who are uncomfortable with trans women in their spaces need to STFU and deal with it” argument.. It’s more than simply a matter of being uncomfortable, Parker. One third of women have been abused (guess who perpetrates that violence). That means that if you think of three women in your life, one of them has been victimized by a man, statistically. So, non-passing trans women who insist on being in women’s spaces aren’t just likely to make women uncomfortable; they’re very likely to trigger someone, and as someone who deals with anxiety, you should be able to empathize with that. Yes, most trans women likely don’t pose a real threat to women in sex-segregated spaces, but knowing that doesn’t change the reality that male-appearing individuals in women’s spaces will probably trigger women who have been victimized. Trauma doesn’t work like that. The stance that women need to just deal with being uncomfortable under such circumstances betrays a lot of male entitlement and TG women who push this line make it very clear that they’re less concerned with blending in with women and more concerned with violating boundaries. And then TG women have the audacity to be offended when they’re called out as creeps for this!


  3. Ever heard of Schrodinger’s rapist? THAT.
    Whilst women are aware that not every person avec penis is a rapist, they are also aware of the fact that, overwhelmingly, all rapist are avec penis. And sporting a dress, does not alter what’s underneath it.
    Couple that with the FACT that transwomen HAVE raped WBW, and there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for their fears.
    Once again, women must sacrifice their security and bodily integrity for a political principle that will never benifit them.
    How patriarchal.


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