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Bathrooms: Tom Chandler’s Questions

Thanks to MHB message board regular Veronica for linking to an op-ed piece in the North Country Gazette, an Upstate New York newspaper, on the bathroom issue. The article takes a skeptical viewpoint on transgender rights, but unlike some of the nastier knee-jerk right-wing blogs, doesn’t stoop to crass insults.

Most of the concerns expressed by the author, Tom Chandler of the New York State Tyranny Response Team, are understandable for someone who knows nothing about transgender rights. They’re phrased in the form of questions to New York State gubernatorial candidates. I have no idea whether any of the candidates will read them or respond to them. I’m not running for governor (although I encourage you to vote for Malachy McCourt), but I’ve got answers to Mr. Chandler’s questions.

Will men who feel they are really women now have to get sex segregated jobs such as rape crisis counselor, (there are still jobs even progressive women argue should be for women alone)? Will you ever be able to deny a man is woman enough to do a job that he feels proves he is a real woman?

There is in fact an example of a transwoman in Vancouver who wanted to become a rape crisis counselor, but was denied, and in fact, the trans community is not unanimous in believing that she has an automatic right to any such job. Some of us do recognize the role of socialization and childhood experiences. But this is a slippery slope argument, and without much more evidence, I don’t accept the idea that outlawing harassment of transpeople in bathrooms will lead to a flood of demands for justifiably sex-segregated jobs.

How does one train a child to be wary of female strangers, who might actually be men disguised as women, without being hateful and teaching ‘intolerance'[?]

Coincidentally, I just happened to be reading about the horrible Moors Murders (warning: graphic descriptions of violence) that took place in the English Midlands in the 1960s. The murderers were a couple named Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. While Brady committed most of the violent acts, at least the first three of the five victims were kidnapped by Hindley, a non-trans woman. The linked Wikipedia article says of the second victim, John Kilbride:

Like many children, he had been warned not to go away with strange men but not about strange women.

I think that answers Chandler’s question: why not teach children to be wary of all strangers, male and female? Female strangers don’t have to be men or transsexuals to be murderers or rapists.

What will the schools have to teach your children and grand children about transsexuals?

That they’re human beings deserving of respect, I hope.

Does presenting men who express as women to children as abused and mistreated people that one should be sympathetic too, encourage predators to pass as transsexuals?

Apparently not. Transsexuals people have been presented in a sympathetic light (at least part of the time) for many years, and not one predator is known to have attempted to pass as a transsexual. Predators don’t seem too fazed by segregated bathrooms, and just march right in in their guy clothes and attack whoever they want. In fact, they seem to appreciate a place where they can find women isolated for their convenience.

How much does one have to ‘express gender’, plastic surgery, hormone shots, and cross-dressing and make up? Women’s shoes, or tight jeans and top, or are uni-sex clothing and an attitude enough to qualify for preferential treatment?

I’m not sure why Chandler feels that the right to pee is preferential tratment, but my understanding of the New York City law is that there is no standard for gender expression. It is entirely the choice of the pisser as to which bathroom they prefer. I’m not even sure that they have to identify as transgender, transsexual or anything else.

You are male traveling or shopping with you daughter or granddaughter and two slight young men dressed somewhat uni-sex follow her into what may be an other wise empty ladies room, or woman’s changing room. You can try to talk to her from outside the door, but you are not dressed to go in. If you do and the she-males have done nothing (yet), will the law be on their side that your bigotry has you harassing them[?]

Yes. Why wouldn’t your first assumption be that these “men” need to pee? If you can talk to your daughter or granddaughter, couldn’t you continue talking to her to make sure she’s safe, and only go in if she sounds like she’s in danger? What would you do if you saw an obviously drunk or insane woman who looked dangerous following your daughter into the bathroom? Maybe an end to gender-segregated bathrooms is the solution.

How will you warn your young co-ed about keeping her guard up when she is at school with friendly young men she might meet at a bar or party, who are ‘expressing’ themselves as women, without being seen as a well-meaning bigot to be ignored?

How about just generally teaching her to take care of herself and not put herself in compromising situations with anyone she doesn’t know well?

Do we still regard ‘peeping Toms” and men who collect stolen women’s underwear as potential rapists? What happens when we encourage such men to express as women, for a near free pass to indulge their vices?

I disagree with the premise that bathroom rights represent “encouragement” to express as women. If it is, on any level, as my Nexis search showed, none of them have been encouraged. Like most of the right-wing fearmongers, Chandler doesn’t seem to be aware that the law guaranteeing equal rights to bathrooms has been on the books for several years in New York City, and largely respected by the NYPD, and no peeping tom or panty raiders have been “encouraged” in that way.

When do we become hate filled villains for having such concerns?

Good question! It started when you stopped seeing transpeople as human beings who sometimes just need to pee, shit and wash their faces, and deserve a minimum of respect. It continued when you expressed no desire to understand why we would be willing to risk harassment, arrest or violence in order to present as our target gender.

Should we be informed enough to know to ask such questions, and to expect an answer before we elect a candidate for governor who may be a strong influence on this issue, one way or another?

Or does this continue to be allowed to slip in under the radar until it is too late to have any influence?

Absolutely the first. If the trans community were interested in slipping our agenda(s) in under the radar, do you think we’d really have had a rally outside of Grand Central Station and invited the press?
In fact, you should be so well-informed that you learn that for whatever reason, peeping Toms, rapists and child molesters just don’t seem interested in presenting as women.

That’s all the questions that Chandler had. But I’ve got a little more to say on the “hate filled villains” issue. Chandler’s photograph shows that he’s a black man, and that reminded me of another time when his ancestors were similarly seen as predators and potential rapists. That portrayal was used to justify discrimination, segregation, harassment and much, much worse (warning: more graphic descriptions of violence). I think at this point we all agree that the authors of the Jim Crow laws and the leaders of the lynch mobs were in fact hate-filled villians, right?

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  1. i’d add that if the adult people were acting in an inappropriate way – say, making jokes about sex or something – then there’s cause for concern, too. but that’s an adult/child issue, not a gender issue.

  2. Good point. And as you say, it’s an adult/child issue. I could imagine a couple of women-born-women making jokes about sex in the bathroom, especially if they were drunk.

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