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The right for a transgendered person to use a gender-appropriate restroom is an important right, but freedom from job discrimination is a more important right, and fighting for restroom rights will slow down the fight for ENDA.  It will also slow down the fight for other basic rights:  being able to enter restaurants, clubs and shops without discrimination, stronger hate crime legislation, better treatment within the judicial system, and the right to have medical procedures covered under health insurance.

It is my opinion that putting the matter of restroom rights first delays the progress on the other rights.  Trans women using women's restrooms is a hot button issue that many people have a visceral reaction to.  I acknowledge and agree that it's unfair, but I think this reaction will change over time as the other rights are gained and more transsexuals, crossdressers, queer folk and other people on the transgendered spectrum are out in society.  In the case of equal rights, familiarity is what has helped the progress in gay rights, and I have high hopes that it will do the same for transgendered rights.  Putting the main focus on restroom rights causes a strong reaction, a line in the sand for many people who would think rights against job discrimination and protecting the transgendered from hate crimes are perfectly reasonable.

From a personal point of view, I'm cranky.  I am especially invested in seeing ENDA passing, and more general tolerance of transgendered people being out in society.  I know I don't have a right to complain.  Transsexuals must face discrimination every day, 24x7.  Crossdressers have a choice.  But I'm tired of the ones in my life always making the same choice, from fear of society's disapproval and fear of job recriminations.  I want to go out to a dinner and a movie with my girlfriend, goddamnit, without it being such a big fricking ordeal!

I don't see the problem with both trans men and trans women using men's restrooms.  I am a cis woman and I use men's restrooms when the line has been too long in the women's room and I've never had a problem.  The answer always is that trans women are in danger of being beaten, raped or murdered simply from using a men's restroom, and my thought there is if the men's room is really that unsafe, the entire venue is unsafe and not fit for mixed company, or for that matter, anyone at all.

I know my view is politically incorrect and while I wanted to explain myself further in another diary's comments, I didn't want to be a dick.  So I'm being a dick here in my own diary.  Feel free to bring it to me hammer and tongs in the comments.  Convince me I'm wrong.

For the record I have been out with a group of crossdressers on more than one occasion and had the cis women in the women's room think I was using the wrong restroom, so I know how that feels too.  And I agree that restroom rights are important fight that must be fought, just not now.  As an example of my point, the time has come for the fight for marriage equality.  That fight would have been lost and the rest of the fight for gay rights would have been hamstrung if that fight had been the top priority right after Stonewall.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm sorry but (0+ / 0-)

    I just don't believe the entire bill hinges on that one issue. Anyone who's in a district where "He lets predators go after our little angels!" is that much of a "threat" is going to lose anyway.

    •  They always put it in the ads (0+ / 0-)

      And it's always the first thing they say when they say why whatever bill should be defeated.  Take away their talking point.

      •  ? (3+ / 0-)

        "Take away their talking point" by literally removing the right for a human being to use a restroom? It's a ridiculous fear-based talking point that makes no sense. And I don't think this is the way to defeat anti-LGBT sentiments: by agreeing with those who harbor anti-LGBT sentiments for just a little while longer.

        I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
        @indiemcemopants on Twitter

        by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:01:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bingo. (3+ / 0-)

          It's easy to think this isn't vitally important...when you can use the restroom without fear of harassment or violence.

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:05:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and giving trans women the right to use (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sue B

            a women's restroom will take away the fear of harassment or violence HOW?  Please explain that one to me.  Beef up harassment and hate crime laws.  Are there stats for this?  Because the violence I've heard about is always as a result of trans women using women's restrooms, not men's.

            •  What? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Because the violence I've heard about is always as a result of trans women using women's restrooms, not men's.
              You lost me. Trans women = women = using the women's restroom.

              I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
              @indiemcemopants on Twitter

              by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:16:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  as a woman I've been harassed using the women's (0+ / 0-)

                restroom, does that language make you happier?  Because it was assumed I had different parts under my dress, due to the company I was keeping.  Would a law have kept me from that?

                If we concentrate on passing a meaningless law that gets people seeing red, rather than laws with real teeth that will gain us real rights, we aren't going to make any progress.

                •  add one more comment (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Carol in San Antonio, cordgrass

                  and then I'll go away (honest)...let's pass ENDA.  

                  Mileage varies, but I think political change is not a game-theory like exchange, but a percolation.  Enough people stand up for what is right and true, and one day -- seldom today, seldom when we wish it, and always tragically late -- most people recognize the basic dignity of those who have fought for dignity, in law and practice.    

                  I think that ENDA is a fight for human dignity.  It does not need codicils.  Every civil rights struggle has thought along the way that if they just trade this or that, the oppressor will back off and give them something meaningful.  Since this is how day to day government works, it seems to make sense and there are lots of examples to cite.  But deep changes of attitude and law are not swaps, they are demands, made from the most basic common necessity for dignity.  King's marching sanitation workers did not wear placards and hold signs reading "I am a black man".  

                  And per your observation...yeah, men and women are both capable of harassment in restrooms.  Or violence.  But the odds are very, very different.


                  ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

                  by jessical on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 08:08:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Well it will at least (2+ / 0-)

              allow them to use the restroom that matches their gender. That's something I take for granted. It's easy to forget there are people who can't do that without fear of being confronted and facing citation and humiliation. This is pretty fundamental, imo.

              What I would like to know is how your plan will take away any talking point. These people will always have the restroom talking point. It doesn't matter if it's true or not. The restroom will always be used to demonize trans people.

              Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

              by Chrislove on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:16:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  because we are working for this as a right (0+ / 0-)

                as the FIRST right, in the first set of laws that are passed.  And I think this law should be passed, it's an important law.  Just five years from now, that's all.  Get the other laws out first, where if a crossdresser is denied entrance to a restaurant, she can sue and win civil damages.  Get a law passed if a trans woman is beaten up for using ANY damn restroom she pleases, that the offender gets punished with extra hate crime penalties.

                It's a tactical thing.

                •  I'm not comfortable (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Scottie Thomaston

                  making compromises like that on these kinds of fundamental rights. I wasn't comfortable with trans people being dropped from the 2007 version of ENDA, and I wouldn't be comfortable with this. This is too important. I don't think it's a strategy that would work, anyway. ENDA can pass when we get a Democratic Congress again. It probably could have passed in the 111th Congress. It's just a matter of whether or not Democratic leaders want to put the work into pushing it through.

                  Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

                  by Chrislove on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 08:01:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Women's Restrooms (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              My fiancee is transgender and her psychologist wrote her a letter saying that she could use female restrooms. Its still not safe, I will not allow her to go by herself.  

        •  "literally"? (0+ / 0-)

          Most places that have women's rooms also have men's rooms.  I can't think of a place that doesn't.  That sort of ridiculous framing is why this fight should be fought LAST.  It's a straw man argument that gets people in opposite corners.

          •  And if someone is a woman (3+ / 0-)

            they should be allowed to use the women's restroom.

            You are suggesting that someone who is a woman should use a male restroom because people largely misunderstand gender so the woman should be punished for that. It's not right.

            Were you around at all in 2007? Those on your side had this fight back then, and they lost, and ENDA is trans-inclusive now.

            I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
            @indiemcemopants on Twitter

            by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:09:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I primarily care about ENDA because of the trans (0+ / 0-)

              positions in it, not because of the gay rights positions.  I'm a cis woman and my girlfriend has a penis.  The marriage fight doesn't concern me personally, nor does the fight against job discrimination against gay people.  

              •  I'm not sure (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                that your reply addresses what I said. I think ENDA should include LGBT people as a whole. I actually think it's much more important than marriage.

                And it's weird you'd say that discrimination against gay people doesn't concern you personally. I'm a cis guy and I've always been on the side that trans rights should be included in ENDA. So I don't think making antidiscrimination bills inclusive of everyone in the queer spectrum really requires someone to have a personal stake.

                I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
                @indiemcemopants on Twitter

                by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 08:32:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  To add to what Scottie said, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Scottie Thomaston, jessical

        I don't believe there is any taking away any talking point. These people don't operate in a reality-based world. The restroom will always be a battleground for them when it comes to trans rights.

        Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

        by Chrislove on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:08:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  of course, but if we are out and about (0+ / 0-)

          and part of the neighborhood, part of the community, when people know us, that will be an easier and different battle.

        •  Yeah, I mean, look at (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chrislove, jessical

          the anti-trans "bathroom bill" in Tennessee for example. The sponsor of it in the TN House, Richard Floyd, said that the state needs the bill because he would "stomp a mudhole" in a transwoman using a bathroom at the same time as his wife.

          This is delusional and violent and bigoted. There is no ceding any ground to these people. They aren't going to stop with bathrooms.

          I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
          @indiemcemopants on Twitter

          by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:13:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  that proves my point rather than yours (0+ / 0-)

            It's an easy target.  There were lots of bills passed against gay marriage while we were working on getting other gay rights accepted and put into law.  And now that gay people are out and accepted and part of the wider community, those bigots are seen as the whack jobs they are.

            As long as trans people are denied jobs and kept out of public areas, we won't have that participation in the wider community that will genuinely help with the restroom acceptance issue.  It's a hot button issue because of the unfamiliarity.

            •  No it doesn't. (0+ / 0-)

              Your point is "let's cave to them on this issue" and my point is that they are violent and dangerous and their position is not even logical. We can't fight these battles and then get scared every time some bigot is opposed, scared enough to say "let's just put that aside for now." I don't see why the fight for ENDA requires people to give up the dignity of being able to use the restroom that fits their gender.

              The LGBT community often seems to view transgender rights as something that can just be bargained away or even left out entirely and some of our so-called spokespeople were very wrongly out in front saying these things. If we just give in on the bathroom issue, there will be no miraculous acceptance by the bigots. There was not even a nondiscrimination clause in DADT repeal in hopes it wouldn't offend people or make them think gays and lesbians are getting "special rights" but even so, that argument is still being made. This isn't something we can just keep putting off and putting off until there's a right time some day in the future.

              I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
              @indiemcemopants on Twitter

              by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 08:42:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Honestly I Never Even Thought About This (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've only known one transgender person. Back in college. In like 1989. I could write an entire diary or two about how we knew each other. Safe to say I really liked her. Even if at another time she was a man.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 06:55:24 PM PDT

  •  I almost always rec when I comment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cordgrass, Carol in San Antonio, pico

    and I can't rec, sorry (not that you would have cause to be concerned lol, but where I'm coming from).  

    This will not go well.  The thing is, I did read your profile, am kind of geeky queer myself, and see sort of how someone could come to this position.  You are also a serious person on here and I think deserve a serious response.

    I will say only that your proposal is grossly unsafe for trans women, requires the active surrender of civil rights, and is the sort of wish-list trade which is neither honored by the gods nor honorable among people.  

    It is common on DK to drag your personal story out and present it in opposition to any damn crazy mean proposal someone hauls out.  All I will say is that I transitioned at 29, I'm 47, and while the reasons differ, at no point across that span of time would I have been safe in a men's restroom.  

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:14:40 PM PDT

    •  but then why am I safe in a men's room? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm surprised you even recced my tip jar, and thank you.  Believe me, I know my view is considered evil and wrong by the community.  I think I wrote this diary more to explain that my view does not stem from transphobia, as most people assume.

      •  erm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Carol in San Antonio

        Unless its a corporate restroom or similar, you aren't.  Also "chick using the men's room" is going to get a different vibe from transie.  In my experience very very few people are likely to turn to violent decompensation, but those that do are empowered above all by lack of consequences.  A public bathroom as you walk across town and are in alone has very few consequences attached.

        I don't think your view is evil and wrong.  It would sure screw up my life, because I'd have to have a special "ts" next to the "f" on my passport, my driver's license, the birth certificate the state was kind enough to reissue...and since I pass most of the time, but not perfectly, I expect I'd get the second, more dangerous "read" when I walked in to the can.  And honestly, this would have me washing dishes in Vancouver the following week -- such an alteration of identity as a political tradeoff would be it, for me.  

        There are plenty of trans folks who would be fine with your proposal, who think where we pee is utterly secondary.  Certainly the bathroom debates become absurd and grotesque quite quickly.  I asked Kate Bornstien where we should pee, after hearing one of her "come the revolution" talks a few years ago, and she snapped back "in the street".  All the hip genderqueer kids laughed.  Its a stupid irritating thing to have to be political about.

        What isn't stupid (to me) is how formal category relates to civil rights.  If you make a special "sub-woman" category -- for ENDA, for anything -- the cost to civil rights would be profound.  But hell, I washed dishes when I was a kid.  I'm sure I can do it again :}

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 07:48:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well of course if you pass none of this applies! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          No one is out there pulling down your underwear and checking.

          But my girlfriend is over six feet tall and built like a Mr. Universe.  Not on hormones, no surgery of any kind, which is appropriate as she is both genders, not one.

          •  yah (breaking my one more comment promise!) (0+ / 0-)

            I think the best rule is "use the bathroom where you're safest".  That's a hard thing to assess sometimes.  I'd actually venture to suggest that she might be safest, when you're together, if you're with her.  And all the usual --she should carry a doctor's note, yadda yadda.  

            I think there are some reality check issues at the start of transition (if that's where she's headed) which are hard going.  If someone has changed their ID, and is presenting F nonpassing, I think -- and this is my best transie experience speaking, for what its worth -- they are better off using the women's room.  And if your ID is not squared away, then judge case by case for safety...

            And, eh...I've been wondering how to say this...hmmm.  Badly.  I put the people I was with during transition, lo these almost two decades past, through hell.  Issues of privilege, socialization, gender stuff (inescapable even when both partners are trans)...intimate relationships are the cheese grater of privilege :}  It is a great bloody mix of stuff that you will be able to see because you are not wearing what my roomie calls trannievision, and stuff she can see -- albeit dimly at this point, like as not -- which you can't.  And political, good/bad, evil/not evil is just...irrelevant.  The only dimensions that count I think are true/not true and kind/unkind, and even then...

            The problem with your proposal as policy is it does create a special category, which I why I kind of hated it.  I agree with you that ENDA is a better focus than bathrooms.   But not so much on the bargain.

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 08:30:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  no, she's not transsexual, just transgendered (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Crossdresser flavor.  Not fetish crossdresser; frankly I'm starting to believe that's an extremely rare fetish.  Most CD's I've come across NEED to dress and dress all the way, when they can.  And while it can be sexual, it's beyond sexual for most.  Sexual in the gender sense, not the erotic sense.  CD's need to dress and just be femme at times, but of course that's a very different thing than being transsexual.

              Still, it's tied up with how she loves.  When she's with me, she has a very strong need to be female.  And also male at times.  I like and encourage the female; it just would be nice to go OUT and have a romantic evening together without all the anxiety on her part.

              •  There's always xanax in the coffee... (0+ / 0-)

                That's a hard one, actually.   Anxiety seems appropriate to that level of public vulnerability, and I'd imagine to be a hard thing to set aside :}  People are mean and taken aback on so very many little nonverbal levels toward nonpassing folks.  We'd all like to be bigger than that but I think we are wired to respond to those cues, most of us...

                ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

                by jessical on Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 09:09:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  excuse me, but I AM safe in men's rooms (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          In bars, at rock concerts, at the theater, in gas stations.  I've used the men's room in all those places and never once have I had a problem.

          I don't get what the big deal is.

  •  I don't feel safe (0+ / 0-)

    at all going into the men's room, as a non-binary gender variant person w/ M on driver's license, and I don't wish to cause a scene by going to the women's room. My current appearance doesn't conform to gender norms enough to go into either bathroom.

    And bathrooms are just one small (but significant) issue for trans people. I have experienced employment discrimination in the past for my gender identity/expression, and as I go forward in transition again, I don't have any protections against future discrimination on either federal or state levels.

  •  Solutions are easier said than done. (0+ / 0-)

    The Trans community often argues about the umbrella that is “trans”. Many of the ones who have had surgery want to be known only as women. They, and many in the larger trans community, don’t want to be lumped with GLB as they think they are merely bargaining chips to be discarded when it is politically convenient. Your position doesn’t seem politically correct; it seems emblematic of the minimal place that trans people have in the larger GLBT coalition. It seems to be a common example of cis privilege to not have to worry about needing to use a bathroom in peace.

    Using your logic, you could take the position that a transwomen isn’t a woman unless she’s had GRS surgery, agreeing with some of the post op group. So, to protect the limited number of mostly upper class transwomen who now have a surgically created vagina, the drivers license should read V for vagina and all vagina endowed women, cis and surgical, would need to carry them to prove their womanhood.

    Your position also echoes the view of early generation feminists who believe that transwomen are secret male spies sent in to take over women’s spaces.

    I can’t imagine that it would be fun to merely be a discarded bargaining chip instead of a human being with the same level of dignity that anyone deserves when they need to urinate or defecate without being hassled.

  •  A few points (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First of all, ENDA actually says nothing about washrooms at all.  We have Barney Frank to thank for everyone thinking that washroom panic is somehow present in that bill and validated somehow.

    Secondly, the remedy you're proposing is to drop an entire class out of human rights legislation.  There's no washroom clause to drop -- it's trans peoples' presence there that leads to claims about washrooms.  So let's put the reality of the alternative right out there for discussion.

    Thirdly, even in LGB human rights legislation where trans people have been dropped from bills entirely, homophobic and transphobic groups claim that it will still lead to predation in washrooms -- it doesn't have to be actually true, as long as it scares the @$!% out of people and gets them to act in support.  Excluding trans people changes nothing -- the claims will still be used to fight ENDA.

    The most effective way of dealing with this is to reveal the fearmongering for what it is: a blatant lie designed to exploit bias and propagate fear.  Here are just a few of the many facts on our side:
    - the legislation does not change anything with washrooms
    - trans people use gender-appropriate washrooms and have for as long as we've existed.  Given that medical transition was pioneered in the 1950s, that's a long time to go without any discernable pattern of problems actually happening
    - Trans people have been included in over 130 pieces of human rights legislation in North America, going back as far as 1975.  Not once has one been used to justify or enable a washroom attack


    Human rights protections are necessary exactly because this irrational fear persists.  It’s necessary exactly because trans people still get conflated with sex predators and child predators, or labeled as “sick,” “perverse,” and “freaks.”  It’s necessary exactly because people become so clouded with assumptions and myths that they argue for our deliberate exclusion from human rights under the pretext that granting them would be “dangerous” or “scary.” It’s necessary exactly because this bias is so entrenched that people think nothing about broadcasting it openly as though fact.  It’s necessary exactly because this “ick factor” response is seen as justification for not allowing an entire group of people to share the same space, to terminate their employment or to evict them.  It’s necessary exactly because it is so pervasive that discrimination becomes not only likely but inevitable — especially if there is no explicit direction in law to the contrary on the matter.

    For a history of washroom fearmongering and full deconstruction of the meme, read Flushing the Fear.

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