“The Case for Unisex Bathrooms.”
Faithful followers of this blog may recall that was a post we ran back in November of 2015, dealing with the push for equal bathroom access for transgendered folks. Yours truly made some pretty compelling arguments, and you’d expect the universe to comply with my effervescent fountain of wisdom, yet on February 22nd, the Trump administration announced it would repeal transgendered bathroom protections established by Obama.
So here we are again.
And that’s a little strange, because other than a couple incidents, I don’t recall a sudden wave of sexual assaults taking place after the Obama administration instituted its protections. Maybe it’s like how gay marriage was supposed to bring about the downfall of society, and it just takes a suuuuuuper long time to get started.
Or maybe it’s just a gut reaction to some of the more stupid elements out there. The folks who’d argue that the world should respect their choice to identify as a bottle of mayonnaise:
Given painfully unironic martyrs like that, it’s not completely baffling why some people would push back against any unusual gender identity.
For the record, I don’t disagree with the above sentiment. And if internet memes are any indication (which is, I’ll grant, debatable) it’s a belief not limited to conservatives and MRA ****bags.
And it’s to these folks who I’d like to speak today, but first, a word of clarification, because this has been driving me up the ****ing wall.
There are not “two genders” – first and foremost because “gender” is a term that refers to a person’s social role, not their biological status. Gender has varied (and continues to vary) wildly across history and across cultures.
What you mean to say is that “there’s only two sexes“, i.e., the fundamental biological characteristics that distinguish male and female.
Only that’s not true either. Just look at the intersex.
Formerly dubbed “hermaphroditic”, the “intersex” are a very small but nonetheless very real group of people born with some variation or even absence of sexual E. We’re talking about folks with male genitals and female breasts. Folks with female genitals and secondary male sex characteristics. Folks with partially or non-formed sexual features. Or folks like the young lady pictured below:
This is model Hanne Gaby Odiele, wearing a pair of ****-ugly everything because that’s how fashion works. Back in January she revealed that she was born with undescended testicles, removed by doctors when she was 10 for health reasons. So let me ask all you folks so doggedly defending the two-sexes argument –
Which bathroom should she use?
Go ahead and lock that answer in, I want to see how well it holds up. In the meanwhile, take a look at this guy:
This is Gioacchino Conti, a famed Italian “castrato.” Which is a way of saying that this poor guy was castrated before he hit puberty for the sake of preserving his high-pitched voice for opera (what did I just say about gender?) Putting aside how absolutely ****ing demented that practice was, I want to ask you again –
Which bathroom should he use?
OK, now how ’bout this person?
That’s Jamie Shupe. While hardly the first genderless person to appear at the center of this debate, Shupe made headlines when Shupe was recognized by US courts as falling outside of normal classification. Yet again, I ask – what bathroom should Shupe use?
There’s about a dozen other examples I could give. Folks with Klinefelter Syndrome. Folks with Turner Syndrome. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Vaginal atresia. Ovotestis.
I could go on and on here, but I shouldn’t have to.
Legislation dealing with intersex folks pops up in 17th century English law and the 12th century’s Decretum Gratiani. The old term “hermaphroditic” stretches clear on back to the Hellenic period, so this isn’t exactly new territory for the human race. For the record, this confronts folks opposed to homosexuality on religious grounds with some difficult questions as well, but that’s a whole other discussion.
And none of this is to say that you have to change your view of folks who get sex change operations. Maybe you view it as a healthy rectification of biological error, maybe you view it as symptom of some kind of pathology. I don’t really care. Regardless of the legitimacy, the fact remains that we have transgendered people in our society, and they gotta answer when nature calls, same as everyone else.
For those of you applauding the reversal of the bathroom order, I’m not exactly sure what your solution is here. Shall public buildings be required to accommodate every possible variation of sex and gender? Shall we place guards at every entrance, nightstick in one hand, medical textbook in the other? How do you suggest we handle folks who do not fit neatly into either category?
Or perhaps we imagine we can discard a small but nevertheless real subset of fellow citizens.
Ban all sex-change surgeries? You could try that, but it’s not going to stop folks trying to make a transition, and it certainly won’t account for folks who are simply born intersex.
Revive the despicable practice of eugenics? Well, there’s at least a couple of you who I wouldn’t put it past to try, but I think most all of us can cross that horror off the list.
And for those Christians out there citing verses on how the genitally mutilated will not enter the temple of God, what exactly is your proposal? ‘Cuz it seems the only way to create a sexually-binary world would be to perform selective abortions, and I kinda doubt you’d be down for that (and by the way, the prophet Daniel was a eunuch, so explain that to me).
Or maybe – just maybe – we could all do that thing we do so well:
I mean, we’ve got plenty of practice.
We don’t care about the poor, we don’t care about the environment, we don’t care about refugees, we don’t care about veterans, we don’t care about the oppressed, the hungry, the downtrodden. We’re ****ing experts at not caring, so why not not care about the bathrooms people use?
All images retrieved via Tumblr and Imgur, fair use.
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