Transgendered people aren’t the problem, the laws are …

I discovered a blog post describing an event which directly relates to some concerns expressed by myself and others regarding gender neutral washrooms.  The writer is definitely not discriminating, and it’s absolutely worth the read if you care either way about this issue because there’s something to consider from all sides.

A Man in the Women’s Restroom at Disneyland

Was this man doing a “social experiment” as we’ve seen in the past with regard to various topics?  It’s reasonable to predict that men who are inclined to intimidate – fully heterosexual men – could simply enter a women’s washroom because they can, and wait for reactions so they can then show cases of discrimination based on appearances.  There’s already a TV show that has people doing very similar tests in social situations, so don’t shake your head as if I’m being too dramatic!

Was he a predator of some kind?  Was he just confused and behaving strangely?

The main point is that even though he was doing nothing washroom related the whole time he was in there, none of the women felt safe in addressing his presence.  None of them felt they had the right to question it.

I’d like to direct a couple of my own points to the transgendered group – specifically to those who are transitioning from male to female – for their consideration as they decide whether or not the rest of us have any reason to feel uncomfortable with certain things that are happening.  Please forgive me in advance if I don’t use the proper terminology.  I’m not always sure which terms are acceptable, so it isn’t my intention to be offensive.  And please be clear on this: I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU OR OF HAVING YOU IN A WOMEN’S WASHROOM.  I expect that most of you are, as most other people are, very nice people who wouldn’t want to hurt anyone.

If you’re a man transitioning to a woman:

  1.  While I recognize you’ve likely dealt with your own kind of bullying at various levels – which is always wrong – please remember that you’ve never actually been a woman.  As girls, we’re taught to be careful, to watch out for who is walking behind us when we’re alone on a sidewalk or a street, to be aware of our surroundings in public, especially in public washrooms (to check that no one is hiding if it’s empty when we enter), and to make direct eye contact with strangers who might be intimidating to appear strong and avoid giving an impression of vulnerability.  With current laws and the risk of being accused and charged with some version of discrimination or a hate crime, we’re now being silenced.  If we make eye contact with a male looking person in the washroom, we’re “staring”.  If he/she looks more like a man than a woman and we take a second look, or even ask security for help because we’re uncomfortable with their behaviour – as in the case described in the blog I have linked to – we’re profiling and discriminating based on appearance.  We no longer feel able to reasonably protect ourselves from possible danger because anyone can say that they “feel” like a woman and enter a space where private womanly things are happening.
  2. Have you considered that once you have fully transitioned to a woman, you will also be in the same position we are now in as far as safety?  With your background and life experiences, you might not feel the same discomfort at having men walking freely into a washroom where you are taking care of private business, but you will be every bit as much at risk of danger as the rest of us once you look like a woman.  Perhaps, think of the reasons you’re not comfortable using the men’s washroom!  And because of laws and the risk of being accused and charged with discrimination or some hate crime, the silence we feel forced into will mean that we can’t protect you either, if you are among us and a suspicious man walks in.  You might know many feelings and experiences that we do not know, but you don’t know what it’s like to be a woman and feel threatened by a potentially dangerous man.  Never mind what it’s like for a young girl to feel that way.  I just ask that you consider it, even just for a moment, because this isn’t just about your rights.  It’s about real life danger and how it affects all of us, even you.

When people say there should be no complaints about giving rights to various groups because it has nothing to do with our own rights, that it won’t take them away, please consider that it does change things.  Our freedom to express our valid concerns in situations like the one described in the blog post I’ve mentioned is being squashed because we know that anything we say will be turned into some kind of discrimination or hate speech as determined by the laws that have been put in place to give you certain rights.  I’m not saying you don’t have a right to use the women’s washroom.  I’m saying it’s a lie to tell me that your having that freedom doesn’t in any way change my own.  Because it does.  It has. And that’s what we’re afraid of, not you.

 

 

 

Gender Neutral? Let’s get comfortable…

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Before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, this post isn’t about being politically correct or incorrect.  It’s not about judging or criticizing or hate crimes or anything else.  It’s about being open to listening to the needs of others and trying to find ways to be helpful without imposing anything – from either side – on people who will be made uncomfortable, and yes, people on both sides of this are allowed to feel uncomfortable without it meaning they are hateful or phobic or aggressive or any other word used to describe someone whose perspective is different than our own.

I seldom listen to morning radio anymore because once Rutherford moved on whatever was left behind just didn’t peak my interest.  Yes, he annoyed me sometimes, just as I’m sure I annoy you, the readers of this blog, sometimes 🙂  But he brought things to light that made me think – as I hope I do here – and I do miss that, so it’s a rare occasion and only in my car  that I actually tune in to find out what the topics of the day will be.

This morning while driving I actually heard a discussion on a topic that has long been a bone of contention with me (surprise!) and it made me want to spout off all of my own opinions, which you just don’t have time or space to do in a short text that you should never try to write while you’re driving.  By the time I got home, it was a blog post waiting to happen, so here I am.

I have no problem with the idea of having gender-neutral bathrooms in public places, including schools, as long as it is a single stall and as long as if it isn’t, there are still gender-specific bathrooms available alongside it (ESPECIALLY in schools).  It sounds simple to me, yet it seems to have become a huge and out of proportion issue that, as many others have, has moved into the whole “homophobic versus LGBTQ” war and it surprises me that people on both sides can’t seem to just be practical and logical about it.  I am not phobic (fearful) of those with sexual orientations that differ from my own.  I just don’t share all the same ideas about how things should be.

If a person has the body of a man but feels like a woman, I can understand how it would be uncomfortable for him/her to use a multiple stall bathroom for males, and vice versa.  It must be difficult to deal with these situations and, where possible, a gender neutral bathroom would solve this problem.  HOWEVER, I do NOT agree that they should just be allowed to enter any bathroom they choose (again, multiple stall) based on their feelings, because at that point, their feelings are imposing on the rest of us a situation that we have just as much right to feel uncomfortable with.

It isn’t about a man with female tendencies being perceived as a danger to the rest of us women in a public washroom, it’s about opening the door a crack and having it fly open as often happens with issues like this and the responses from government; ie. if one person clearly looking like a man is allowed to enter a women’s washroom, there is nothing stopping every other man from entering, because no one will notice or even be watching for it.  And that bothers me.  By making things “comfortable” for a man who feels more like a woman, this situation makes it possible for men who ARE a danger to move about freely as they please without question, even if every single one of the men with legitimate female feelings is a perfectly safe person to be around.

On the flip side, a woman who feels more like a man and wishes to use the men’s washroom is imposing on the comfort of the other men, not to mention the little boys who are in there and shouldn’t have to be embarrassed in front of females who go in because they feel more like males.

Has anyone even considered the impact of this issue on children who have reached an age where they are allowed to go into the washroom without a parent?  I would never be comfortable sending even an almost teenaged daughter alone into a gender neutral bathroom in a crowded public place, because while she might encounter some very nice man with female tendencies, she might also encounter a man who has no business at all being in there but who entered unnoticed and waited for a girl to come in without a parent.  Let’s face it, that already happens!  Are we seriously saying we want to make it even easier so that no one even questions anymore if they see men going in and out of women’s washrooms?

My first response to this issue, when it became a public discussion months ago, was that people should use the washrooms that match their body parts.  Simple. Having considered it further, though, I realize that people dealing with gender issues have real difficulties and their feelings shouldn’t be ignored, just as the feelings of everyone else shouldn’t be ignored.

So as I said at the beginning, this is about finding ways to help people feel comfortable without imposing on the comfort of someone else.  This isn’t always possible to achieve in other areas of controversy, and there are times that I wouldn’t agree with just trying to keep everyone comfortable because sometimes when you are standing up for something important and you happen to be right, others won’t like it and that’s too bad.

But in this case, I believe it is possible to help people on both sides maintain a reasonable comfort level.  I propose that where there are only single stall washrooms available, they should all just be gender neutral.  Where there are only multiple stall washrooms, there should be gender-specific washrooms because that makes sense for the majority, and really, a public washroom is a nice convenience, but it shouldn’t be considered a right, so if a person doesn’t feel comfortable using one and they really have to pee (pardon the potty language), they need to find another location, or just suck up the discomfort because we all have things that make us uncomfortable in sticky public situations where there is no option.  And where possible, in the area where there are multiple stall washrooms, a separate washroom area that is gender neutral could be set up so that those who feel uncomfortable in the other ones have a place to go.  I think it’s as simple as having a single stall washroom placed in the vicinity of the other ones, even if it cannot be right next to them.

I believe that reasonable people on both sides would be content with this solution.  Unfortunately, there are also unreasonable people on both sides!  Instead of finding an easy solution at a simple level, it becomes a battle of human rights and immediately backs are up.  Sometimes it seems like the anti-LGBTQ people will do anything at all to just reject the interests of that group without attention to their human dignity.  And sometimes it seems like the LGBTQ people will push everything to the furthest limit to make a point, even if it isn’t necessary.

bathrooms-without-urinals

I want the struggling person to have a place to feel comfortable, but I want to feel safe and comfortable too.  One shouldn’t overrule the other.  Does every public washroom everywhere have to be gender neutral? No.  Is it reasonable for this need to be accommodated wherever possible? Yes.  People on either side of this issue who don’t agree are, I fear, the ones who refuse to listen and simply wish to rule out a compromise so they can hang onto their own ideas at the expense of others.  The pictures below show examples of unreasonable behaviours on both sides, and they aren’t pretty.  There is no need for extremes here, just logic and consideration 🙂

NEWS_shitin_jennamackey RESTROOM