Tough Choices

This, from an entry I posted last week, sparked some reaction:

Re yesterday’s near-riot between pro- and anti-transgender rights demonstrators in Los Angeles: I side with the women in the viral video that kicked everything off: they should never have to share women’s locker rooms, dressing rooms, spas, and restrooms with non-GRS* transgender women. Yes, it’s possible the video was a Project Veritas-style provocation; that there was in fact no transgender woman waving her penis around in the locker room, as some have pointed out — but if such things do happen in women’s spaces, I’m against it. I hope this does not mean I’m anti-transgender. Living is choosing and choices have consequences. Being transgender doesn’t exempt you from them.

*GRS: gender reassignment surgery.

The reaction, actually fairly mild, came in the form of private messages from two friends. I won’t quote them here on the blog but will paraphrase what they said: both took me to task for lumping restrooms in with places women or men should not have to share with non-GRS transgender women or men. They’re right; I shouldn’t have. Everyone has to go; so long as restrooms have stalls for privacy, trans women and men should be able to use restrooms that match their gender, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s business.

I wrote that post in response to the specific claim by anti-trans activists that a naked trans woman exposed her penis while mingling with naked women and girls in the women’s area of a spa in Los Angeles. Whether or not the claim was true, I believe women are right to insist that trans women stay the hell out of women’s locker rooms, dressing facilities, and spas. Ditto trans men from men’s locker rooms, etc.

As for the bigger issues, on which I am totally unqualified to speak:

This probably comes across as reactionary, but I hate “cis” and won’t use it. When I talk about women and men, I mean those of us who by sex, sexuality, and gender are women and men in the traditional sense. Sex meaning physical reproductive anatomy; sexuality meaning who and what we’re attracted to; gender meaning how we self-identify as women and men … and sometimes neither.

One of my friends knows and works with trans people. I don’t, but agree with her there’s a spectrum of human sexuality and gender identification. It’s not right to say that just because most of us fall on the “normal” side of the spectrum, those who wind up elsewhere on it are “abnormal.” Differences are natural and we must accept them.

Most of us have come around to accepting that same-sex attraction, homosexuality, is built in, not a choice. Choice is what individuals decide to do about same-sex attraction: embrace it, stay closeted, deny it altogether. As to gender dysphoria—unease or dissatisfaction coming from a mismatch between one’s biological sex and gender identity—most of us realize it’s not something anyone, child or adult, would choose. It’s real, and those affected by it can’t pretend it away. What choice there is, again, lies in whether and how to act on it, and here, social and parental pressure to conform can have life-long consequences.

Sadly, we all know how society in general regards those with non-standard sexuality. We know how society treats transgender women and men. We know how schoolchildren bully gay and transgender kids. I may not know any trans people, but I know parents who have disowned children who came out as gay. I suspect the majority of parents with children who want to dress, identify, and live as the opposite sex do all they can to discourage it.

When it comes to parents, I’m not ready to say they shouldn’t be involved in such decisions, even though most of them choose poorly. Even if I believed parents should be kept out of the loop, how is that ever likely to happen? Your child is about to make a momentous decision that’ll affect his or her entire life and may result in him or her being an outcast … what, you’re not going to get involved?

I stand by my basic, limited point: we can’t expect women or men to share locker rooms, dressing facilities, or spas with transgender women and men. Especially when children might be present. Show me a society or culture, now or at any point in history, where such a thing would be acceptable. It’s not wrong to feel that way, and it doesn’t make anyone anti-trans.

Is there an actual problem, as anti-trans people insist there is, with predatory men pretending to be women in order to ogle naked women and girls in dressing rooms and spas? Are there really trans girls waving penises about in girls’ high school locker rooms? I hear it’s getting to be a problem in urban women’s shelters … and I can believe it … but I also hear the same stories about prisons, even though prison officials are famous for denying inmates’  transgenderism and keeping them segregated by reproductive anatomy. Do children become gay because of peer pressure or because there are gay characters in books and on TV? Do children decide to change gender because this or that celebrity did it? I can understand why people believe scary stories like that, but I’m pretty sure those stories are bullshit.

But not entirely … if this sort of thing happens (and it’s just one of many such documented reports I’ve read over the years), how can anyone dismiss the possibility that there are those who would try to take advantage of women and girls by pretending to be trans?

Whether or not fear of those who occupy different places on the spectrum of human sexuality and gender is rational, it’s undeniably deep-rooted. It’s built into society and culture, and while it’s important to educate people that sexuality and gender are fluid and that as long as no one is coerced into doing something they don’t want to do it’s all okay, we’re not going to change society and culture overnight. Or in a generation. Or maybe ever, judging by history. It’s all above my pay grade, and yours.

But back to cases. This one case, that is. Women and men should not have to share naked public spaces with transgender women and men. If this creates a hardship for transgender women and men, a statistically insignificant percentage of the population, too bad. Life is tough.

© 2021, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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