So today, someone I’m friends with on Facebook posted a link to this article that talks about a proposed amendment to a Canadian trans rights bill that would essentially put transgender people in the position of having to use the washroom/changeroom of their biological gender versus their gender identity. So, if you were born with a penis, you use the men’s bathroom. If you were born with a vagina, you use the women’s bathroom. Gender identity be damned.
According to those proposing the amendment, it is so “This act will no longer allow biological males to identify as female and gain access to vulnerable persons.” They also believe that the current bill “allows for pedophiles to take advantage of legislation that we have in place”
Anyway, the originally poster of the article expressed her disgust with this amendment, and a few people (myself included) agreed. Because from my perspective, I’m pretty sure that the fact that a washroom or change room is labelled “women” is not what’s keeping male sexual predators and pedophiles out today. Does a pedophile really look at the label on the door and say “oh, I can’t go in there because it’s against the law?”
It seems to me that the risk is purely imagined and not backed up by any facts or data whatsoever. If anybody has such facts, please point me to them.
Anyway, a couple of people mentioned that allowing transgender people to use the change room that corresponds to their gender identity infringes upon the rights/security/privacy of others.
Now usually, I don’t engage in debates about stuff like this on Facebook because I’m generally conflict avoidant, but these days, I’m trying to stay true to myself, so I decided to engage. And because I honestly didn’t get it, I asked what rights were being taken away from others. I mean, it’s by definition a public bathroom, so therefore, only minimal privacy should be expected. Most public places are not particularly secure to begin with.
And the only answer I got boiled down to “people would be uncomfortable”. What about the situation where an adult male was changing beside a young girl. Does that young girl’s discomfort not count for something? And that this would allow anyone to use any change room or washroom. It would be naive to think that this would not be putting children at risk.
Umm. Really? I’m a pretty smart person, and yet I remain confused. How were you ever sure of the biological gender of the people in the bathroom with you? It’s not like there’s an attendant at the door that asks everyone to drop their pants for an equipment check on the way in.
Do you really think that if a biologically male transgender person walked into a women’s change room or bathroom that you’d know that they were biologically male? I’m thinking you really wouldn’t (but I am very far from an expert on this, so would love some feedback from trans people here). I’m thinking that person wouldn’t be flashing their penis around (and what if they have had gender reassignment surgery and no longer have a penis — do they still have to use the men’s washroom because they had a penis at birth — it’s just too confusing for me), or announcing “hey y’all, I was born a man, but my gender identity is female”. Yeah, I don’t think so. The point of gender identity is that the person actually IS the gender they identify with, and therefore, once they’ve embraced and accepted that gender identity, they generally look like a person of that gender. Thus you don’t know that they were assigned a different gender at birth unless they tell you. And you don’t get to say what gender they are. It’s actually not any of your business.
And … discomfort. Do we actually have a legal or constitutional right to being comfortable? I don’t think so. I’m uncomfortable changing around women who are skinnier than I am, so I think we should have different places for thin people to change. Nope. I have to deal with that discomfort. I can change at home, I can change in a bathroom stall. (Yes, I fully recognize it’s not the same thing, and that I’m not at risk of physical harm from women who are skinnier than me. The sad truth is though, that women are often at risk of physical harm from men in many places, public and private.) Also — see the previous paragraph. You probably aren’t going to know anyway.
In the end, it comes down to perceived risk. People perceive this to mean that anyone can use whatever bathroom they want to use (not true, people can use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity — it is not a free for all crap and change where ever you want system). This translates into a perceived risk of harm due to the possibility that people will abuse the system. This is a perceived risk, not a real one. Male pedophiles prey on male children too. Those sexual predators are already in the bathrooms and change rooms with young boys. I wouldn’t be surprised if the real risk of harm is actually higher for biological male with a female gender identity using the men’s washroom.
In 44+ years of using public bathrooms, I can recall 2 instances of seeing a male in the women’s washroom. One was a homeless man in a park where I had a job cleaning bathrooms. He was also sitting in the stall with the door wide open. He closed it pretty quick when I walked in to clean, so I figured he just hadn’t paid attention to which bathroom he walked into. The other was last spring at the Black Sabbath concert. Some guy came in, went into a stall, did his business and left. No one cared. A few people chuckled and figured he was drunk. He wasn’t an ass, so who cares why he was in there? In fact, the only reason this was even remotely memorable to me is because there is generally no reason for a man to want to use the women’s bathroom, particularly at a concert, because the line up to get in is ridiculously long. I do not know what women do that takes such an enormous amount of time. Honestly, I have no idea. But that’s a subject for another day.
I have once used a men’s public bathroom. At a bar downtown on Canada Day because I would have peed my pants waiting in the line for the women’s washroom. None of the men seemed to care. They were all drunk no doubt.
It’s been legal for women to walk around topless for over 20 years in Ontario. Not once in the past 20 years have I seen a woman walking around topless. Not once have I seen a woman topless on a beach in Ontario. I don’t know anyone else who has either.
Just because a person can do something doesn’t mean they will.
Generally, societal norms will continue to prevail. People, regardless of biological gender or gender identity, will use the bathroom and change room that they feel most comfortable using. People will not start pretending to be trans so they can do creepy things, unless they were creepy people to begin with.
I would have hoped we’d have more important things to concern ourselves with these days than the plumbing of the person sitting in the bathroom stall next to you.
I decided to stop engaging in the Facebook discussion, because I felt like nothing useful would come of it. But I couldn’t sleep because I kept going over and over this in my mind.
Maybe I’ll be able to sleep now.