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Badly Reasoned: Why The CO Transgirl Should Not Be Segregated

Coy

Yes, I’m still on the damn bathroom issue. Apparently, I just need to get it out of my system before I get back to my usual level of humor, that pun excluded of course. Go ahead, groan, now let’s move on people. In my last post I referred to the trans girl, Coy, in Colorado who had been using the girl’s room, but then banned and asked to use separate but unequal facilities in a compassionate attempt to make her feel like a mutant freak. Apparently 6 is the right age to really drill home how much she should be crying bitter tears for the affront of being born different. Now, I actually heard a great deal of what sounded like well considered rational by the opposition. Let’s take a moment to dissect that, shall we?

The most prevalent point of contention is that no one wants their daughters exposed to the sight of a male penis in the bathroom. I’ll be honest; this gave me pause as well for a moment before I could gather my thoughts. My first thought was that unless she took to peeing in the sink for some reason, are exposed genitals really a common site in any bathroom? Having grown up in bathrooms that contain urinals, I have to say that this was not a common thing at all. In fact, even looking could earn the naturally curious quite a beating. Boy culture is vehemently opposed to this. I’m not sure if this really carried over to the locker room because I generally changed huddled in a corner and got out, but still. Does the same apply to girl culture?

The answer I got was not so much. Girl culture, which I was unfortunately not raised in, is less prudish about bodies and the implications of letting other girls see them in female segregated spaces. So there is a chance that girls in the same bathroom as Coy may at some point see what she has down there. I can feel the indignant outrage from here. Let’s think about that for just a second though.

Generally speaking, people who have a difference they may have some feelings of shame around generally don’t go flaunting it. I think many or most children by school age already have an understanding that boys and girls are different down there and that Coy and other trans children know they don’t have the typical parts. Even without parental guidance and instruction not to do this, the general childhood impetus to not advertise what is going to mark them as different and possibly made fun of is most likely going to stop her from doing so.

Let’s go back for a moment to the general knowledge that boys and girls of school age understand there is a difference between boys and girls. Through childhood curiosity, siblings, cousins, friends, and daycare, most opposite gender children have seen each other without pants on at some time or another. We don’t like this thought because the idea borders on the uncomfortably sexual, although at this age, it certainly is not. The point being, chances are that if one or more of the girls managed to spy a trans girl’s penis, it likely would not be a first time thing for them.

Now I’ll vector off to the left and point out that approximately 1% of the population is born with an intersex condition. This may or may not include genitalia that are not markedly male or female. Sometimes this is corrected at birth and sometimes not. The point is that there is no debate concerning intersex condition children using the restroom of the gender they have been assigned, even if their genitalia can’t immediately back that up. The reason this is never mentioned is because both now and in the past, the prevailing notion has always been that whatever someone has in their pants is their business alone. That being the case, the only reason I feel there is outrage over Coy and other trans children is that trans is a big news item right now.

This is by no means the first time in history that trans children and even children who were not trans were raised in a gender other than that they were assigned at birth. The difference is that now the general public has some idea of what transgender is, or the very least has an uninformed opinion about it. Twenty years ago, assuming Coy’s parents were as progressive as they are now, she could have been raised female and no one but her doctor would have really known the difference publically.

The final issue I’ll address is the one forward thinking people like to bring up. So what happens when Coy hits puberty? Well, there are several things that can happen. There is always the chance that Coy ends up feeling more comfortable as a boy, because this does occasionally happen with children initially identified as trans. If that happens, problem solved but for her socialization into male culture, which I imagine will be very hard. If she maintains her gender is female, the common practice has been to begin hormone blocking treatments which would prevent her from experiencing male puberty. Between both this and the socialization in girl culture, it is extremely unlikely that she will suddenly become a manifest threat to the other girls. Even if she is gay, it is highly doubtful that she would act any different than any other young lesbian, a demographic not known for committing assaults in the girls room.

The overall problem I see here is that the Victorian remnants of prudishness have managed to persist in a manner that allows us to project our notions of sexuality on to children who simply don’t have this yet. I agree, however, that female segregated spaces are important and should be kept as safe as possible. Little Coy is not the risk. She’s just a girl born in a way she clearly doesn’t care for, who wants to feel as normal and as accepted by her peers as possible. Her being welcome in the bathroom should be based on the same standards as any child; good behavior is the expectation. Disallowing her with the understanding that she meets that criteria is simply wrong.

Again With The Trans Bathroom Issue

Bathroom

It’s as much about what you see as where I can pee. Well, and a lot more, but one thing at a time. I know we have talked about “The Bathroom Issue” before, but it’s high time we revisit this fun little topic once again. Very recently we had the trans girl in Colorado who was granted separate but unequal accommodations after being kicked out of the girls room. Apparently it’s never too early to make someone feel like shit about how they were born. In case you can’t tell, I’m kind of in a mood. Even more recently it’s the always compassionate lawmakers in Arizona who mistakenly think our reality can be easily legislated out of existence just like that.

What continuously annoys me about this is the prevalent notion that where we are going to go to the bathroom is predicated on what the local statute happens to be. This is simply not the case. If we identify as women, we are going to use the ladies room if appropriately presenting as such, and same goes for the trans men in using the men’s room. This is regardless of whatever the law of the land happens to be. While I would greatly prefer not to be harassed because I just had to order the venti frappachino, I would even greatly more prefer not to be physically assaulted. That being the case, let’s just drop the notion that this is about where we are allowed to go.

The issue really comes down to how much of an effort and how many tax dollars does the local community want to sink into giving us a hard time over this. In Arizona it’s apparently quite a bit, but I’m sure by now they have achieved a downright utopian society complete with cowed citizens nervously carrying around long form birth certificates and looking over their shoulders for jolly old Sheriff Joe and his pink undie squad.  Look, out of 50 states, one was bound to long for a quasi-fascist system dedicated to preventing those pesky brown people and “weird” folks from getting out of line and doing things they vaguely disapprove of that have little to no effect on their existence. After all, conservative philosophy is all about personal freedom, right?

Even with harsh laws in place to prohibit the dangerous trans folk from quietly entering a lockable stall to do their business, people are still going to go where they feel safest. Personally, I’d rather take that chance than enter any restroom that features urinals. Unless they start installing armed guards at every door, I still think my chances of peeing and getting the fuck out unscathed are way, way better in the ladies room. I think we should take a moment to look at why people feel the need to sink valuable tax dollars into a cause that may on its best day achieve a level of efficiency comparable to the war on drugs. To keep it real, I’ll even skip over Mr Krackpot Kavanagh’s pithy little “because he thinks [trans] are weird” reasoning.

I have attempted and failed to locate a scientifically conducted national poll that gauges the feeling of cisgender women regarding sharing the bathroom with transgender women. Nor have I found one regarding their feeling about the fact that at some point in their life, they probably have whether they knew it or not. Now my personal experience, which I cannot extrapolate to a national level, is that the vast majority simply don’t care so long as proper bathroom etiquette is followed. The number of reported breaches of etiquette is so tiny as to not only be statistically insignificant, but would be thrown out as extreme outliers in any scientifically conducted studies. Getting to the point, the argument that there will be a sudden influx of peeping, spied penises, or outright assault is baseless. Remember, we are already in there with you, so the best a harsh law could do is keep a statistical zero incidence rate right there at nothing.

On the far pole from conservatives who worry of impropriety, we have the RadFems who do exactly the same, worry of impropriety, but for much more esoteric reasons for the most part. Aside from arguments eerily reminiscent of those of who oppose gay marriage (acknowledging trans womanhood somehow diminishes or takes away from their womanhood), we get a lot of fox in the henhouse paranoia. To look at this fairly, no one in the ladies room is real thrilled with the idea of someone who identifies as male coming in, especially if he’s doing so with bad intentions in mind. This does actually happen, though rarely. In any case, it is farfetched to believe that cross-dressing rapists or peeping toms are making their decisions to take this approach based on transgender access. If they are already mentally committed to perpetrating one of the most heinous crimes known to humankind, it seems very unlikely that they are being held at bay only by local statute enforcement of trans bathroom prohibitions. If the threat of 20 years in prison for committing a crime while wearing a costume that renders them highly identifiable immediately after, the threat of a municipal citation is hardly going to give them pause for thought.

Finally we come to the really sticky issue that has us all perplexed. While it’s been well established that transsexual women, with very, very few exceptions, behave no differently (or better, because we don’t need the attention) in female segregated spaces, the question inevitably comes up, what about the cross-dressers? And by cross-dresser I mean a person who identifies as male, but wears, at least on occasion, female attire. This is thorny because cis and trans women aren’t that terribly comfortable having a self identified man in the bathroom with us, even if they are behaving well. The pointy end is that there is no easy way to tell the difference. In fact, I’ve noticed that many CDs look much better than I do on a day to day difference because they tend to put a lot more time into their look, and if matched up in a ‘which is which’ guessing game, I’m not so certain I’d be picked as the woman on looks alone.

Unfortunately, there is no pleasing answer to this. We could request that the world governing body of cross-dressers signs a pledge to steer clear of the ladies room when in public, but there isn’t one; just a lot of individuals running around and a bunch of local clubs and support groups. We could go the Arizona route and hire an army of German accented potty police who say, “Ve need to see your papers!” in an adorable fashion. Dare I say panty checks anyone? Or we can take the reasonable course of action as good citizens and report bad behavior as we witness it.

The bathroom issue really isn’t so much an issue as a societal decision to either acknowledge our existence and where we already taking care of a private natural function, or if political action and tax dollars should be spent to ineffectually dissuade trans people from peeing where they are going to anyway. What really remains to be seen is if the recent changing tides in LGB civil rights are being extended in the T direction yet or not. Either way, we aren’t going anywhere.

And yes, I hardly touched on little Coy Mathis, the bathroom banned trans girl from Colorado, but she deserves her own post, so look for that in 3 days time.

The Colleen Francis Affair

A little bit ago I took a shot at the Radfem enthusiasts in the form of an opinion piece and then wandered over to Bugs’ blog to poke around and see what might rise out of the silt. Pure nastiness at the bottom, but nothing to be concerned about, plus I got a few nice tidbits saved for a later date by carefully choosing my words. The one surprise they hit me with was the Colleen Francis affair. Unlike other subjects I played dumb on, this one was news to me. It came up again my very own comments section by a Radfem who spoke well and raised some very salient points. It was a very refreshing turn to be quite honest.

It took a while to cull through all the online outrage and calls to war over this, but I think I finally drilled down to the facts. It wasn’t easy as the current trend in everything is go from zero to outrage in a nanosecond. I found the police report as well as news coverage. Long story short, a transgender woman in Olympia, WA was using the locker room and sauna at her school, which is fully allowable under the state civil rights protections regarding gender. The problem was that Ms Francis wasn’t terribly shy about her current male genitalia being seen, and that the facilities were also used by a girls swim team with members as young as six. Yeah, I think you can see why this became a big deal.

Many will argue that as a transgender woman, she had every right to use the facilities appropriate to her gender. I think most of the readership here would agree on that. She clearly felt that being female, yet stuck with male genitalia, she had every right to use the facility in the manner consistent with other females, including nude use of the sauna. I gave this a lot of thought, and simply can’t draw that conclusion. In fact, I have a whole list of issues with it that made me significantly annoyed with Ms Francis as I’m not super thrilled to have to speak out against one of my own. Here is my list of reasons why I think this was a terrible lapse of judgment on her part.

1. Nobody Wants To See That: Aside from perhaps an unflushed toilet after Mexican Night at the pub, a penis is the least preferable thing that one wishes to encounter with their eyes in a female space. Not only is it a huge trigger for CSA and sex crime survivors (special thanks to Sworddancewarrior for engaging in a calm, informative discussion on the matter), but it is a threatening presence in general for all women in a place of vulnerability. It’s simply not the same thing is a gross deformed leg or third nipple or something. This is the exact reason cis and trans women are bitterly resistant to using a men’s room – no one feels safe peeing or changing there. An accidental flash when changing under a towel would be a little regrettable. Sitting with open legs in a sauna is simply way wrong.

2. Really? With Kids There?: Call me an old fashioned prude, but I just don’t see any need for children of any gender to be exposed to naked adult genitalia, especially that of the opposite sex. Colleen’s identity as a woman does not change the fact that she had male genitalia on display. Yes, yes, the human body is natural and all that, but the presence of an exposed penis is edging dangerously close to the line where sex abuse begins. There is no good reason why early exposure should be argued in the looming shadow of unspeakable harm.

3. We Are Just Not There Yet: There may come a day when society at large understands the transgender condition and that many self identified women will continue to have male genitalia for a short duration, up to a lifetime if the means and physical requirements for GRS are not met. It will also be understood that even so, we pose no threat whatsoever as on hormones, the damn things blessedly don’t work anyway. Yeah, we not even close to that yet. A staggering amount of work still needs to be done before the public at large understands our circumstances. Even after they do, it’s going to require even more work to translate intellectual understanding to compassion. In the mean time, to a significant portion of the population we remain deranged, sexual fetishists, or con artists. Situations like this really don’t help.

4. Totally Screwing the Rest of Us: Yes, it’s wonderful that the state of Washington recognizes and protects transgender rights. If the enjoyment of these rights gives enough cause to question the wisdom of these provisions, generates outraged calls for repeal, and provides a good example of why other states should avoid fiascos like this, it’s just not very good for the rest of us. “So what Michelle, are you saying we should just be good little girls and mind our P’s and Q’s like second class citizens?” Yes, this is exactly what I’m saying. We all know that if a cisgender woman acts like a shithead, she’s an exception, but if a trans woman does the same thing, it’s suddenly indicative of typical trans behavior. It sucks, it’s not right, but it’s the reality of the situation. One incident is enough to give Radfem and religious extremists a pretty potent weapon aimed in our direction. We are a very minor minority and most people simply do not have dozens of first hand positive trans inclusive female space experiences to compare this against. Because of this, every incident is a really big deal.

The moral of the story here is simple. If you are trans and utilizing female segregated space, every precaution should be taken to ensure that all females present continue to feel safe and comfortable. An exposed penis is guaranteed to change that. We can debate this all day, but this simple fact remains at the end. The vast majority of us generally have no problem using female only facilities without incident and generally go unnoticed. Many of us would also rather die than have someone see our genitalia, so there is that as well. I feel very strongly that someday this will no longer be a thing, but today it is, and we need to do everything possible to bring that someday closer to the present.

Yes Already, I Am Going to Talk “Bathroom Issue”

If you ever want to get an outraged earful from a trans woman, simply go up to her and say, “But, you don’t use the ladies room, right? That would be immoral!” Honestly, I want to smack myself just for having written that. The bathroom issue, as so known, is one of the top 100 issues trans people are a bit prickly about. If you can’t understand why, take advantage of the endless refills at McDonalds and try to imagine not knowing where to pee without risking a beating. The issue has little to do with us just being fussy.

You might be surprised to learn that I’m not the first person to bring this up, nor did I coin the term “bathroom issue”. In fact, this has actually been done almost to death. ‘Almost’, because if it was taken all the way, it would no longer be an issue. I want to take a moment and give my spin on why it is an issue to begin with, and then why that thought paradigm is wrong in some very basic assumptions. I doubt this is new, but you can’t have too many search results in our favor when Sully down at the Department of Public Works goes and tries to get himself informed.

Why should trans women be discouraged from using the ladies room? The oppositions answer seems to make sense. People feel universally unsafe performing, um, elimination activities. Women feel particularly unsafe doing such in the presence of men, particularly because on a historical basis, unclothed vulnerable women have a much higher risk of something heinous happen if men are within grasping distance. While it is acknowledged that trans women also feel vulnerable and unsafe around men for the same and very different reasons, there are way, way more cisgender women than trans women. Why should cisgender women be made uncomfortable to accommodate a population miniscule by comparison? This almost seems to make sense, but really doesn’t.

The logical fallacy of the above is in the wording and a glossing over of a key piece of information. Yes, some cisgender women may feel at risk with transwomen in the bathroom, but trans women actually are at risk in a men’s bathroom. Given that there is no record of a trans women assaulting a cis woman in the bathroom, and countless records of trans women being assaulted, it’s fair to say that only one of the groups is actually at risk. The group that is at risk, I think anyone would agree, is the one that should be offered protection, even if it makes some uncomfortable.

In case this isn’t clear, let’s look at an example from our recent past where some pretty ridiculous notions prevailed. White society objected to minority use of common rest rooms under the unfathomable notion that they were less sanitary. Since then a modicum of wisdom prevailed and declared this separation moronic and obscenely inane. The trans bathroom issue is the same, except the general public hasn’t yet been educated enough to understand that we not only pose no threat, but in fact, are under grave threat.

“Whoh there Michelle! Won’t bathroom access just encourage would be rapists to put on women’s clothes to take advantage of the situation?” In a word, no. Anyone who has taken any interest in the subject, which really should be all women, or even watch non-Fox based news knows that rape is way more often a crime of power than it is about sex. Be that the case, stick any non-CD cisgender man in a dress and see how powerful he feels. Probably not so much. Like wearing you Weight Watcher’s tee shirt to the Old Country Buffet, what you have on is going to affect performance. In the event that someone, and I’m sure he’s out there, does have a particular fetish for doing this, he’s probably going to do this anyway and pick somewhere seldom frequented to avoid notice, and not the loo at the Regal Cinema.

To sum it all up: We who consider ourselves women are extremely unlikely to pose a risk; if we are on HRT, we likely can’t even if so inclined, which we are not. At worst, we make some people who are uninformed feel uncomfortable. In the wrong bathroom, however, we are at grave risk. Men feel just as antsy and uncomfortable when peeing, and far more likely to meet a perceived threat with violence. The notion that legal and socially condoned access would encourage potential rapists to take advantage fails to take into account the malevolent mindset of such perpetrators. Putting on a skirt set and make-up is not how they are going to enact their need to dominate and subjugate women. We need the protection, pose no risk, and with a little social adjustment, everyone is safer and happier in the long run. One would think this would be simple.

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