28 February 2013

Transgender Potty Break

As many of you may know, there is a little transgender girl (born male, identifies as female) in CO who's mom is suing her school district for not letting her use the girls bathroom. The full story is that the girls' school is complying with her parents requests that she be treated as a girl and called her female name. They are also providing her with access to the faculty bathroom and the nurse's bathroom (and, obviously the boy's bathroom). The school is concerned for the comfort of other girls as the transgendered child gets older and genitals and sex (meaning male or female) becomes more of an "issue." 

Personally I think this is fantastically progressive, especially when most schools would say, "conform to the child's biological gender role so we don't have to deal with it, or homeschool." But it's not acceptable for her mom, who has taken her child out of school until her lawsuit is resolved.

Anyhow, due to a brief disagreement I had with a reactionary personality yesterday, I feel like this topic warrants some thought. So, let's think about this before we decide what is right and wrong, shall we?  

Transgender means an individual doesn't feel like the sex they were born with. It is not a choice or a whim. There is a legitimate disconnect between their biological genitals and their mind's perception of their gender. It does not mean "gay" or "transvestite" or "transsexual." No one knows exactly how this happens, but it's likely a chemical flux that maybe activates a gene or a pathway in the brain which tells the person "I am a boy/girl." According to the American Psychology Association, there is evidence that transgender identity has always existed. So this leads us to conclude it's just the way some people are. If people care enough, one day, we'll figure out what mechanism(s) cause it. Hopefully by then we will have decided to accept these people and not force them to feel like they need to be 'fixed.' 

Now, let's talk about the bathroom. When you get down to brass tacks, men and women just don't want to poop in front of each other, or pee in front of each other because it's embarrassing. Dudes don't want chicks stealing looks at their penises as they walk by the urinal to grab a stall. And women want to be able to fart and remove tampons without guys seeing/hearing or smelling anything. No one wants to have to impress the opposite sex in their vulnerable state of inescapably gross bodily function. I'm not saying these aren't valid reasons. They are vain, yes, but valid. Believe me, I would probably have a total attack of shy bladder in a bathroom full of guys and there would be no way I could take a crap with a strange dude in the stall next to me. These are fine reasons to have separate bathrooms. It keeps everyone comfortable.

In a perfect world, no one would give a shit about any of this, and get on with their afternoon piss, but people are confused due to our mammalian ancestry, hormones, prejudices, fears, sexual urges and other beliefs and feelings which run the gamut between sound and baseless. In other words, it's complicated.

So the school has to balance the comfort and normalcy of this transgendered child with the comfort of the other students who share the bathroom. Their reasoning is as the kids get older, it will become more of an "issue." Not only with some girls who are nervous sharing the bathroom with a penis-enhanced girl, but with the transgendered child being nervous in a bathroom full of guys who might want to beat her up or be uncomfortable sexually about it. The compromise is she can use the faculty bathroom or the nurse's bathroom, because it costs money to build gender neutral bathrooms and there aren't enough transgendered children in school to warrant it.

But this isn't simply about the bathroom or taking a dump in front of the opposite sex. This is about people's fear (and subsequent anger) over a confusing sexual identity or sexuality. Many people assume transgender means a homosexual that just wants to act like the opposite sex so they can bang unwitting straight people. Some people thing this whole transgender thing is a bunch of horsefeathers. Their parents need to stop them from 'acting queer.' Kids can't make choices about their gender yet. Add to the fact that there are other gender and sexuality issues that get lumped into one big tangled LBGT ball and most regular folks don't know what to make of it all. So they don't like it.

To be honest, I'm kind of miffed at the mom for making a national spectacle of her kid when she claims to want her child to be "normal." It's the same way I felt about Thomas Beatie ("the pregnant man") and a blogger who was documenting how she let her son wear princess dresses to school. I feel like these parents are fighting their own battle through their kids. The kids are the ones who will be subject to scrutiny, ridicule and harassment before they have enough werewithall and self-confidence to let their freak flag fly on their own terms. It stems from my own personal feeling about kids making statements about God, or politics or  holding abortion signs. Their parents will send them to the front lines before they even know what's going on. I've also watched parents indulge their children to the point said children are disruptive, self-centered and easily distracted. (They're "spirited!") Maybe it's my prejudice, but I think the lady should have been satisfied with the arrangement and when her "daughter" grows up, she can advocate for gender neutral bathrooms if she so desires. But now, she has whipped up a spittle fueled trollfest with her daughter's image, name and city at the center. I would never do that to my child.

Then again, how do we move past it if no one protests? There's my conundrum.

But I digress. Transgender isn't a choice, it isn't contagious, it is not a whim or someone trying to "get attention." The kind of attention one gets from their fellow human beings (?) is certainly not worth it. And what do you do if your kid insists they're a different gender? If they're miserable being what you're forcing them to be? There would be a point where (I would hope) your love for them and their true happiness would be more important than fitting in.  It doesn't change your life, it has nothing to do with sexuality (until puberty and on, when everything has to do with sexuality, gay, straight or otherwise.) 9 times out of 10 it makes no impact on your life, so why do you care? I get the bathroom squeamishness, but other than that, what is the big deal if he's a she? It's not a fad that will sweep the nation. It's not a common state of nature. It's not a reason to be angry at someone or hate on them or punch them or kill them. It's not even a reason to be disgusted or appalled. Save that for genocide, starvation, gang rape and the things in this world that deserve your tirades and ire (and ACTION!)

All you have to do is say to your kid, "Yeah, he/she is different. But he/she's a person with feelings, just like you. If he/she is nice, hang out. If he/she's a dick, don't." Simple. Your kids won't care, why do the adults?


Anonymous said...

Your Midwestern lower middle class prudishness has gotten the best of you. I've gone to non gender specific bathrooms in NYC and Boston for years, who the fuck cares?

Take down the signs in boys and girls rooms across amerika, it's a remnant of narrow minded people like you.

Spend your time thinking about hungry kids in this world, not silly stuff like this.

EM Hum said...

Anonymous, I just spent paragraphs saying transgendered people should be treated like human beings and no one should care about where they pee. I also said we should care more about violence and hunger in the world than this subject. You call that narrow minded and prude. This suggests to me you weren't really reading, but you came here specifically to troll, which makes me think you don't like me personally. Perhaps we've met before on Facebook?

In any case, maybe you can imagine women who have been victims of sexual violence. They may feel very scared to walk into a bathroom full of men and drop their pants. There's one group that might "give a fuck" and it has nothing to do with being prude. Also, I have two young daughters and wouldn't feel right about sending them into a bathroom with a bunch of grown men inside. The grown men would feel a little creeped out, too. That's not prude, that is being aware of the unfortunate prevalence of rape and sexual violence.

I'm middle-middle class, actually. This does not mean anything except that I do not make six figures at the moment. And I can spell America.

Anonymous said...

Many of my friends, unfortunately, far too many, have been victims, but they are cool with non gender specific bathrooms.

I don't have a Facebook, and im not sure about me being a troll in the way you use it it doesn't sound like a little guy hiding under a bridge, I don't get it?

Lighten up, this is an inherently silly medium!

Adam said...

These are the low-brow nuts you attract in social media. Leeza34, your girls would be safe in a male bathroom with their father but that's it. I have never seen a woman come into a men's bathroom, but plenty times watched boys and gays/trans use women's bathrooms. Maybe they're nicer? Bathrooms, I mean.

We had a case here with a trans child who identifies as female not being able to use women's restrooms. Good for you for being so open-minded. Maybe one day you and Viking can visit here where people are much more supportive of those lifestyles. Think hippie-redneck, kids, dogs, good schools, tolerance, safety, you get it.

Hey, here's a hint about my new idea. I have a collection of 10-15 nightmares, not R more PG13 but crazy like Hitchcock or Poe. One person's relationship with their family mostly, triggers each dream sequence? I think you'd like them. Take care.

Adam said...

I'm sorry, I was mistaken. This case didn't happen where I live. I figured it would have. Most likely issue wouldn't have come up here. All the same, my mistake.

EM Hum said...

Finish, Edit & Publish.