Conflicting Times-Dispatch OpEds on trans-bathroom use show progress is happening
Now I was never on the debate team, but something tells me if your argument relies on using molested children as a weapon, you’re probably on the losing side.
The Times-Dispatch, in its infinite pursuit of “equality,” ran two conflicting OpEds on transgender bathroom use this weekend. Both write ups follow last week’s announcement by the Fourth Circuit Federal Court that a transgender teen, Gavin Grimm, in Gloucester County was in the right when he challenged his school’s policy forcing him into a bathroom aligned with the gender on his birth certificate, not his gender identity.
While Grimm’s victory came on the back of Title IX, the law governing federal support for public schools, the real victory will appear when the same ruling is used to strike North Carolina’s state-wide birth-gender bathroom law (stay tuned for that one, its only a matter of days).
Either way, last week was a win for transgender people and anyone who is capable of thinking outside their tiny box enough to realize there is zero threat to anyone when a trans person uses a bathroom – you’re more likely to get molested by a member of the GOP in the bathroom than by a transgender person.
But the fight raged on in the TD. Check out these words from Bill Harrison, Executive Director of Diversity Richmond:
Those who claim that transgender people and their families make these life-altering decisions on a whim have not done their homework. Those accusations are reckless and endanger the lives of all children, not just those who are transgender.
While many transgender issues are complicated, the basic knowledge is not. We no more choose our gender identities that we choose our skin colors, and we decided years ago that separate restrooms based on race were immoral. We have the responsibility to make sound and just decisions based on fact and knowledge, not scare tactics that have no base of truth.
Harrison’s piece also includes a great story about a trans-kid and what issues and difficulties they have faced growing up in rural Central VA – you can read it all here.
Meanwhile, a few clicks over, the Richmond-based Christian organization The Family Foundation, had their Executive Director – Victoria Cobb -proceed to use some of those “scare tactics that have no base of truth” to try and terrify an aging, increasingly polarized TD audience:
Stephanie is the adoptive mother of two girls who were sexually assaulted, each of whom suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. In a raw and powerful letter addressed to members of the Virginia General Assembly telling her story, she wrote: “A particular risk to my daughters is exposure to the anatomy of the opposite sex. To my daughters, the male anatomy is a weapon by which they were assaulted. But the risk extends to even being in the presence of biological males in situations where my daughters feel vulnerable, such as when they are using the bathroom, changing clothes, or showering.”
Now, according to a federal court, assault victims like her daughters will just have to deal with that horrible fear.
The only thing worse than using the sexual abuse of a child as a weapon against an already stigmatized group is to use that sexual abuse to advance your personal agenda. Never mind Jesus was pretty big on love – John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another – and I’d bet the late JC wasn’t big on exploiting the misery of children to put down another group of people either.
But moving past her own shameful storytelling, Cobb, along with the many folks who disparage transgender people, have managed to twist bathroom use into something in need of policing, despite a total lack of evidence showing a need for it – (unless you’re a going to the bathroom with a member of the GOP).
While more and more businesses and governments move to support gender neutral bathrooms, the religious right has instead chosen to move in the opposite direction. They lost the fight for marriage equality, now they think it’s time to move on to a smaller and less visible group – they need someone else to vilify and transgender people cross off enough emotional and physical gray areas to be a perfect target for a small minded bigot.
Much like the success around marriage equality, things got better when more folks came out – when you knew someone in your life was gay, laws that put those folks in harms way, or gave them unequal rights, didn’t seem to make sense anymore.
Sadly, trans folks don’t have the level of visibility the rest of the spectrum does – Cobb and friends think they can stop the hemorrhaging of progress on this issue because of this, and they will use whatever terrifying or disgusting argument they can to hammer their inaccurate point home.
While Cobb and Harrison’s words might continue to battle it out in the newspapers (and Facebook walls the world over), try to remember the facts of these situations, like what Harrison has so nicely laid out:
When a baby is born, the child is deemed male or female depending on what sex organs are present. Gender identity, connecting with the feelings of identifying as male or female, is typically set by age three. Most of us identify in accordance with the sex organs we have, but some people do not. Thus begins the life of a transgender person.
Remember that there have been zero reports of transgender people sexually assaulting someone in the bathroom. Remember 63% of trans people “had experienced a serious act of discrimination” in their lifetime and ”roughly 70% of trans people have reported being denied entrance, assaulted or harassed while trying to use a restroom.”
We are probably going to be in the thick of this for a while – visibility will be the biggest weapon the LGBTQ community has to fight future transgender-related injustices. But in the mean time, try and remember all anybody wants is a nice safe place to pee, no matter what gender they identify with.
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