If you listen to the right wing, their opposition to every LGBT protection law that includes gender identity comes down to bathrooms.
In California, AB1266 recently became law. This law basically made it explicit: trans people have rights, even if they are children, and that includes the right to be treated as a member of the gender they identify as.
What gets lost in the discussion of the law is that this law didn’t change the law! Seriously. It was already California law that you not discriminate, and there has been plenty of case law in other areas establishing that treating a transwoman as a man (for example) is sex discrimination, both federally (this is a positive recent change) and within California law.
What it did do is end a bunch of legal bickering that occurred in more conservative districts whenever a trans person wanted rights in schools. It made it easy for the bigots to figure out the law – they didn’t need to think anymore, which apparently is good for bigots. Now they have no excuse and no legal arguments over what the law actually says. So it did do something, even if it wasn’t necessary: it made it harder for districts to waste time in court while being an asshole to a trans student.
That’s probably why it was supported by so many people. According to the bill’s Senate Floor Analysis, it was supported by Equality California, Gender Spectrum, GSA Network, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union of California, Anti-Defamation League, Bay Area Youth Summit, California Communities United Institute, California Federation of Teachers, California LGBT Health & Human Services Network, California State PTA, California Teachers Association, Child & Adolescent Gender Center, Family Equality Council, GLSEN, GLSEN Orange County, HonorPAC, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, Labor/Community Strategy Center, LAUSD, LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Los Angeles Gender Center, MALDEF, National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, ￼North County LGBTQ Resource Center, Our Family Coalition, Pacific Pride Foundation, Public Advocates Inc., Public Counsel, Restorative Schools Vision Project, San Diego Cooperative Charter School, San Diego LGBT Community Center, San Francisco Unified School District, The Center Long Beach, The Center OC, The Trevor Project, and Youth Justice Coalition.
Yes, that’s a lot of support. Who opposed it? You would think that if this created problems in schools, at least one education-related organization would oppose it. So let’s see…who opposed it officially? It’s a short list:
- California Catholic Conference
- Capitol Resource Institute
- Concerned Women for America
- Traditional Values Coalition
I had to look up “Capitol Resource Institute” (CRI) to find out who they were. They are a right-wing Christian lobbying group, who opposes gay marriage, LGBT rights, and other “left” causes like public money funding public schools (rather than vouchers, which of course CRI supports). They are also working with the creators of California’s hateful Proposition 8 to come up with a ballot initiative to remove rights from trans students.
The others are also right wing Christian groups.
Not one educational organization was willing to officially oppose the bill. That should tell you something: restating existing law is hardly the end of the world as we know it.
So, what is the opposition? The guys trying to appear to be sane according to a Huffington Post article that quotes an AP story, say,
In an interview with the Associated Press, Donnelly said that his sons, aged 13 and 16, are “horrified” at the prospect of using the same bathrooms as peers who were born female.
Yes, I’m sure that Donnelly’s kids have no idea that vaginas exist. After all, I suspect Donnelly believes in saving sex for marriage – you shouldn’t know anything about it until then, after all.
But, more significantly, the opposition is always about bathrooms.
Except it’s not about bathrooms. It’s about basic dignity. It’s about being treated as who you are. And it applies to far more than bathrooms – it ensures that a girl is treated as a girl in all aspects by the school. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about seeing penises or vaginas.
But, if they want to talk bathrooms, let’s talk bathrooms.
One California Representative opposes the recent law because it invades the privacy of the other 98% of students. For instance, he says:
Some of my most pressing questions are: What are the long-term repercussions of this measure? Will some kids be too embarrassed to use the bathroom or locker rooms, knowing that a member of the opposite sex could enter any time? Could this create unneeded anxiety with students, creating a massive learning distraction? Will creating gender neutral facilities increase the likelihood of a sexual assault on campus?
Let’s look at that. Let’s start talking about kids not being able to use the bathroom. Let’s talk about the 7% – a large part of that “98%” he talks about – who have trouble using public facilities due to Paruresis, a medical condition commonly known as “shy bladder.” According to the International Paruresis Association, restrooms could be designed better. To give people privacy. Then this 7% could pee in peace.
But it’s not just that 7%. We have gay people in our society. Really. And it’s 10% of the population. The California legislature concerned about the privacy rights of the 98% is also concerned that somehow transgender students will be attracted to the students in the bathroom they are using, but not the bathroom that doesn’t match their gender. Apparently he doesn’t realize that not all trans people are gay. Heck, most aren’t. Duh. But 10% of the population is gay, and is using showers and facilities. They might even be attracted to someone. Rick Santorum was definitely worried about this when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was being repealed. So we have to worry about that 10% too.
Of course it’s not just gays – there are those pesky bisexuals. 46% of the male population, according to a Kinsey study on behavior (not attraction) or reaction (you can guess what that means) of men to men and women, showed they were at least somewhat bisexual. That’s an older study, but I suspect men in the 1940s and 1950s were even less likely to tell a researcher about their bisexuality than it would today. Now, most of this 46% doesn’t identify as bisexual, but does that matter to the right wing? Probably not. And plenty of other studies have confirmed Kinsey’s studies, although it is important to distinguish between differing definitions of bisexuality (as an aside, Kinsey disliked that term). And would they want a bisexual student peeing in a urinal next to their boy? My guess is no. So they must be excluded.
So let’s see… 98% of the population needs privacy from trans people. Of that 98%, 7% of them can’t urinate with others in their space or sound area. So that’s .98 multiplied by .93 which yields 91% of the population doesn’t need bathroom design changes if trans people aren’t allowed in any bathroom. If we take that 91% and multiply it by 90% (let’s exclude the 10% of gays from bathrooms, so nobody worries about the gay guy checking them out), we find out that 81% of the population is now okay. But, remember, 46% is bi. So 54% (the non-Bi chunk) of 81% is 43%.
43% of the population would be just fine if trans students, people with paruresis, bisexual attractions or behavior, or gays were banned from restrooms. Of course that would require us to ban 57% from the bathroom. Or at least build bathrooms, showers, and other environments that are accessible to the majority (the 57%).
You know what meets the needs of both the 43% and the 57%? Private facilities. Seriously.
But of course none of the legislators or right wing lobbying groups talk about making facilities private. No, they just talk about excluding people. Even though 57% of people is a lot of people not peeing if they have their way.
It’s time the 57% get their rights back.