The List: Part 2, Reasons Why
As noted in my previous column, trans women face a particularly aggressive opposition when it comes to access to women’s private spaces such as restrooms and even more so locker rooms. Last time I promised you a set of arguments which may be presented to people of goodwill willing to change their views in light of new information. These will not convinced the willfully ignorant and hostile, in most cases, but for those willing to be compassionate we should give them the intellectual basis to do so.
What follows than is not every point that might be made but, I believe, sufficient arguments to support our claim.
First, the opposition assumes that something which is in reality merely a cultural tradition is instead some sort of law of nature. Our history as human beings has been filled with moments when cultural traditions were rightly challenged and we survived just fine. Not so very long ago white people were worried about the danger and trauma associated with sharing private spaces with black people, some still are sadly, and yet once that tradition was rightly challenged it took almost no time for the vast majority to realize that there was no threat at all. And it IS a culture-specific tradition. Other cultures around the world, both currently and throughout history, have not seen the need to gender segregate their private spaces.
Second, it cannot be fairly assumed that there is some inherently male condition of sexual aggressiveness for two reasons: first it assumes that all persons in possession of a penis are equally threatening to the safety of women, and in the specific case of trans women it assumes that nothing has happened to physically change that male attitude towards women. AND…
It falsely assumes that the trans woman “thinks like a guy” in relation to other women which is an insulting and ill-informed assumption. This assumption ignores the realities that from the trans woman’s point of view she is counted among women, not among men, and therefore rather than being a threat themselves would be just as much a target of the same sort of presumed aggression. Consider: if she, in fact, “thought like a guy” then she would hardly be asking you to accept her as a female, would she?
Moreover, it is no more logical (or ethical) for non-trans people to assume the status of trans people’s genitalia than it is for the reverse to happen. Nor is it practical to physically screen everyone who desires to enter. For every trans person whose history you may be aware of, there could well be others whose background you would not know. But since neither of them are a threat, it hardly matters. In any case, it is not necessarily true that because one was born with male on their birth certificate that they are thus therefore in exactly the same physical state they were in at that time.
Indeed, it ignores the fact that trans women have as much or more reason to feel threatened by men as non-trans women do. Violence by men (and sometimes women) against trans women is epidemic, and often regarded by the general population as, if not justified, at least understandable. To ask these women to place themselves at risk in confined spaces such as restrooms and locker rooms is to ask them to risk a thing that actually happens (violent assault by disapproving man) in order to spare non-trans women from a thing that NEVER happens – sexual assault by trans women.
The fact is that in various locations around the country this issue has already been addressed and trans women regularly share restrooms and locker rooms with non-trans women in many thousands of locations, and there is a remarkable absence of ANY reports of women being violated in these situations by professed trans women and a single-figure amount of rare cases by male imposters. It simply doesn’t happen to any statistically significant degree. Certainly not to the extent that non-trans men find a way to do offensive things such as plant cameras and so forth without the need to cross-dressing order to achieve their end. On the very rare occasion when some pervert tries to take advantage of the rules, he is caught and dealt with in exactly the same manner as he would have been had the local laws and policies not been favorable to trans people. The trans friendly policies are proven by real world experience to not have increased risk to non-trans women AT ALL. It’s not that hard to develop policies and practices which discourage the possibility of a false profession of trans status.
Also, it ignores the fact that in general terms women are much more likely to be violated by men that they presume they can trust to be safe than they are by strangers in public facilities. Men such as pastors, teachers, employers, neighbors, and family are the vast majority of those who violate women sexually.
The resistance to change further assumes that the trans woman will casually expose herself in these private spaces. This assumption ignores the fact that the one thing that a non-trans woman is most worried about seeing is the very thing that the trans woman is far MORE worried about being UNseen. If she is so very unhappy with its presence that she would consider going even to surgical lengths to get rid of it, then one can logically infer that the LAST thing she has any interest in doing is showing it to some stranger, either intentionally or accidentally.
Finally, it assumes that there is some sort of violation in the fact that the trans woman might glanced the non-trans woman in a state of undress because of sexual desire, but sexual orientation is not an issue since heterosexual people routinely share private spaces with homosexual people who may be oriented towards their gender. Any given woman in that space may in fact have a sexual interest in seeing the undressed woman in question and it further assumes that the trans woman has such a sexual interest, which may or may not be true. Most trans women consider themselves heterosexual – that is oriented toward men – and therefore that woman is no more or less concerning in the situation than any other heterosexual woman. For those trans women who are in fact lesbians, they are no more or less a concern than a non-trans lesbian. To say nothing of the asexual.
Photo by: Hank Hession