UPDATE: This post originally used the word, “transgendered.” Upon advice, I’ve replaced that with “transgender.” If you found your way here from a shared Facebook link, please note that it probably uses the old form, as Facebook caches its links, and updating the cache is very hard to do.
A NoVa elementary school student, biologically male, self-identifying as female, inadvertently stirred up a tiresomely discredited argument that Tea Partiers, ignorant columnists, and Dave LaRock just can’t stop making: boys will sneak into the girls’ bathroom if gender-identity, rather than physiology, controls who goes where. Originally, the child’s school made accommodations and was in the process of working that out to the best effect for the entire student body. Then, people who like to proclaim what’s what got into the act and the school was forced to stop trying its best to take care of children, in favor of trying its best to placate adults who were acting like children.
Central to this argument, every time it comes up, is the fantastic notion that, if “all you have to do” to be a boy allowed into the girls’ bathroom is say you are transgender, then the girls’ room will be full of creepy boys, watching… well, watching what, exactly? I shudder to consider what this might say about the adolescent years of some right-wingers, but I can’t recall ever, at any age, wanting to see what goes on in a bathroom, no matter what the glyph on the door might be. Bathrooms are icky. Most of us use them when we have to, and wouldn’t linger after that, no matter who else was in there. Further, I know (because I had a job that involved cleaning them, at one time) that bathrooms for women have no urinals in them, and the stalls have doors. I am forced to assume that one can’t really get a look at anything more than one can see in a school’s hallways and classrooms.
But, all of that aside, the Washington Post got the clincher: for a cisgender boy (that is, one both biologically and psychologically male) to trick his way into the girls’ room, that boy is going to have to declare himself to be transgender. If he’s allowed to enter the girls’ room on that basis, his entire school is going to know it.
Now, I know, our society has made great leaps in its tolerance of difference. I know we have marriage equality in Virginia today, maybe in all the states tomorrow. I know it’s decades now since Stonewall. But I also know that children can be real jerks when they get the chance. So it’s hard, very hard, for me to imagine that a boy, even a Virginia boy in the year 2015, is going to fake being transgender just so he can get into the girls’ bathroom. The consequences in every other aspect of that boy’s life just wouldn’t let that be worth it, even if there were some kind of pay-off in being allowed to use the girls’ bathroom.
Once again, this argument collapses under the weight of its own absurdity. A shame, this time, that a child’s shoulders should have to carry any part of it.