CommunityPam's House Blend

Re: "Bathrooms for the transgendered"

Gender Neutral - Handicapped Restroom SignEvery now and then I get a wild hair up my ass and send a letter to an editor off. I sent this one off today to the Providence Journal (Rhode Island), regarding David Carlin’s Bathrooms for the transgendered. Summing up the article, he stated that providing gender-neutal restrooms that would benefit transgender students is a “lethal cocktail of compassion-plus-stupidity,” and:

…Let me get back to the compassionate New England colleges. They have solved the bathroom problem by doing away with men’s rooms and women’s rooms. Now everybody will use a gender-neutral bathroom. That is to say, men, women and transgender people will all use the same restrooms.

What a splendid institutional improvement! They have improved the bathroom lot of a small (and mentally ill) fraction of the student population, and they have inflicted embarrassment and discomfort on everybody else. Well, not quite everybody else. The politically correct administrators who run many of our colleges will feel a glow of moral superiority every time they relieve themselves in a gender-neutral rest-room.

…America today suffers from what may eventually prove to be a lethal cocktail of compassion-plus-stupidity. We solve little problems that tug at our heartstrings by creating immense future problems. Hard cases make bad law.

Anywho, below is my letter to the editor. It’s probably too long for them to actually post in their hard copy publication, so I thought I’d share it here.


Dear editor,

David Carlin doesn’t seem to comprehend that the “difficulty [transgender] students face when choosing a bathroom” isn’t superfluous, it’s serious mistreatment and violence. The Transgender Law Center published the document Peeing In Peace, which stated:

For many transgender people, finding a safe place to use the bathroom is a daily struggle. Even in cities or towns that are generally considered good places to be transgender (like San Francisco or Los Angeles), many transgender people are harassed, beaten, and questioned by authorities in both women’s and men’s rooms. In a 2002 survey conducted by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, nearly 50% of respondents reported having been harassed or assaulted in a public bathroom. Because of this, many transgender people avoid public bathrooms altogether and can develop health problems as a result. This not only affects people who think of themselves as transgender, but also many others who express their gender in a non-stereotypical way but who may not identify as transgender (for instance, a masculine women or an effeminate man).

[More of the letter to the editor after the break]Specific cases of violence against transgender people for using public restrooms include Christina Sforza:

On July 10,2006, Ms. Sforza, a bi-racial transgender woman, and two friends were at a McDonald’s restaurant located at 341 Fifth Avenue. After eating, Ms. Sforza, a diabetic, went to the bathroom to give herself an insulin injection. The men’s toilet was out of order so a McDonald’s employee told her to use the women’s toilet. Ms. Sforza reports that she had been in the toilet for not more than a minute or two when she heard banging on the door and someone yelling outside, “I’m going to kill you, faggot. I’m going to kill you.”

According to Ms. Sforza, as soon as she opened the door, an African American man in a blue McDonald’s shirt, whom Ms. Sforza believes to be the manager, hit her across the head with a lead pipe and kept hitting her in the head, torso and groin, and on her arms when she tried to protect her head and face. When Ms. Sforza managed to get hold of the pipe, the man allegedly began choking her, saying, “I’m going to kill you, you fucking fag, I don’t want any fags in here.” Ms. Sforza tells AI that a crowd of McDonald’s staff and customers were cheering, yelling “kill the fag,” and egging the attacker on.

And, one doesn’t have to be transgender to experience gender expression related violence or institutional mistreatment in public restrooms. One specific case involves Willie Houston:

On July 29, 2001 in Nashville, Tennessee, 38-year-old Willie Houston was celebrating his recent engagement with his fiancée and friends; he and his fiancée had taken a late night cruise together on a local casino riverboat. At the end of the evening, Willie held his fiancée’s purse when she took a trip to the restroom. One of Willie’s friends, who happened to be blind, also had to use the restroom, so Houston took him by the arm and led him into the men’s room while still holding the purse. Less than 30 minutes later, Houston was shot dead in the parking lot, having spent the last half-hour of his life having anti-gay epitaphs yelled at him. Houston’s fiancée, Jones, gave a eulogy instead of her wedding vows.

And another involves Khadijah Farmer:

The woman, Khadijah Farmer, 28, who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, said in an interview that she was at the Caliente Cab Company restaurant on Seventh Avenue [in New York City] with her companion and a friend after the gay pride parade on June 24 when she left the table to go to the women’s room. While she was there, a male bouncer burst in.

…”After I came out of the bathroom stall, I attempted to show him my ID to show him that I was in the right place, and he just refused to look at my identification. His exact words were, ‘Your ID is neither here nor there.'”

…[Ms. Farmer] said the bouncer followed her up the stairs and back to the table, asked her party to pay for the appetizers they had eaten and made them leave the restaurant.

Perhaps David Carlin believes the solution to violence against gender non-conforming people in restrooms is reparative/conversion/reorientation therapy for transgender people. The Traditional Values Coalition states on it’s website:

Gender confused individuals need psychological help but they also need spiritual assistance to deal with their mental problems.

J. Matt Barber of the Concerned Women for America has stated that transgender people are “very confused and [need] therapy and prayer.” And according to Annabelle Robertson’s article Transgender: Hope for Those Who Desire Healing:

[Dr. Jerry Leach, Ph.D., L.L.C. (Reality Resources) ; Dr. Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D. ; and Randy Thomas (of Exodus International)] all agree that only God can repair the emotional damage sustained over the years, whether through cross-dressing, sexual sin or faulty thinking. It is all idolatry, they say, that must be dealt with at the foot of the Cross.

Since Carlin states that providing single stall restrooms available to transgender people is a “lethal cocktail of compassion-plus-stupidity,” and doesn’t identify a solution to the restroom-related mistreatment and violence gender-variant people face, one can only assume his solution to the transgender restroom issue wouldn’t be one that’s in sync with the medical community’s standard of care for transgender people, but more in sync with the fringe medical organization National Association For Research And Therapy Of Homosexuality.

Surprisingly though, David Carlin also fails to consider other reasons for gender neutral restrooms, which include providing larger and private space for disabled people (almost all of these restrooms are handicapped accessible), and providing larger and private space for parents who need to take their young, opposite sex children to public restrooms (i.e. fathers taking their preschool daughters to the restroom; mothers taking their preschool sons to the restroom).

Lastly, I’m not sure how creating specific restroom space for disabled people, parents with small children, and transgender people — restroom space that take these folk out of his multi-stalled restroom’s view — embarrasses Carlin. I would think a male-to-female transgender person visibly sharing a restroom with him would embarrass or disturb him more than having male-to-female transgender people use separate restrooms. Frankly, I don’t fathom the reason for Carlin’s alleged embarrassment at the idea of single stall restrooms.

Autumn Sandeen


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