One of the more discouraging things to result from the most recent Election Day was voters in Houston shooting down an anti-discrimination ordinance because bigots and haters managed to convince them that treating transgender persons like actual human beings would result in hordes of male perverts invading women's restrooms. It was a variation on the same line of fear mongering used back in the 1970s to make people panic over the possibility of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Just how fracking stupid are people?
I say this because it's pretty obvious that no one who succumbs to this particular line of bovine fecal matter is doing much thinking. First, has it ever occurred to anyone that no one does a genitalia check when you enter a rest room now? If someone looks even superficially female, that person is going to be able to use any ladies' room she wants. There isn't a security guard posted at the door looking up skirts or asking people to drop their pants and prove they don't have a penis. Ergo, if there are male perverts out there who want to dress like women and can do a sufficiently good job with hair and make-up that it isn't obvious they're men, no one is going to stop them. There is an exception to this, which I'll get to in a minute, but it doesn't apply to the average public restroom.
|Public latrine 2000 years ago|
The big exception to the anonymity of public restrooms is, of course, elementary and high schools. That's the one place where people are doing genitalia checks, at least on paper, and it's also the one place were trans persons are experiencing the worst problems. School administrators have a really hard time dealing with teenagers who are listed on school records as being one gender but who have realized they are actually the other. Then again, school administrators have a hard time dealing with anything that falls outside the extremely narrow lines they've drawn for what is and is not acceptable in a lot of categories. They also have a bad habit of treating victims of harassment and bullying as though the victims were the perpetrators. Which means, naturally, that if a teen is already having a rough time coming to grips with his or her identity, with a few rare exceptions school administrators are going to do their best to make life for that kid even harder. That in turn leads to the reality that if a student is still listed on the paperwork in the school office as a girl, that student is going to be forced to use the girls' rest room even if the student is now viewed by everyone (parents, fellow students, the world at large) except the school administration as a boy, and vice versa There will be bathroom police doing the equivalent of genitalia checks.
School bathrooms, incidentally, are also one of the two places I can think of where a person does lose the privacy of the typical bathroom stall. Quite a few schools remove the doors from stalls so teachers can easily check to make sure no one is smoking or doing drugs behind the stall doors. I remember being shocked as hell when I saw that in the Ironwood High School back in the 1980s; I imagine kids have even less privacy in the loo now.
One of the more bizarre aspects of this whole controversy has been the line taken by some of the bigots that people should be required to use the restroom that corresponds with whatever was put on their original birth certificate. The stupid, it burns. Just how do they plan to enforce that little gem? Are they going to start asking women who look like Caitlyn Jenner to whip out the paperwork to prove the word "female" was typed on their birth certificates? Or are they going to simply harass the ladies who don't match up quite as nicely as Caitlyn does with American standards of femininity? Ditto the mens' rooms -- how will these men who are so eager to make women prove they're women feel if they succeed and then they get asked to show their paperwork? Except, of course, that's never occurred to them: the whole focus has been on preventing perverts from entering a ladies' room.
Which leads me to another question: just why do so many people have such an astoundingly low opinion of men? Judging by the hysteria over some of the stuff men are imagined to be waiting with bated breath for the opportunity to do, apparently most men are low life perverted swine that can't be trusted around anyone, let alone women and small children. They're incapable of restraining themselves from indulging in all sorts of depraved acts.
Then again, "projection" is a fairly well known phenomenon in psychology. I can't help but wonder if the reason some of these people are foaming about hypothetical perverted situations is that they spend so much time fantasizing about accosting little kids in public restrooms that they assume everyone else is as sick as they are.