Last night and again early this morning I decided to do something I normally never do: read Facebook and Instagram comments about transgender bathroom policies. Specifically, I wanted to read comments from people who oppose transgender rights. Now, these commenters may not all say they oppose equal rights for transgender people, but they do oppose transgender boys, girls, men, and women using the bathroom for the gender with which they identify, and I consider being able to go to the bathroom a right, so...
There is so much ignorance out there. So much anger. I didn't think I would have been surprised, but I was. The amount of misinformation is astounding. I found a lot of similar themes, however. Confusion, misunderstanding, fear...
I decided to group my observations and then extrapolate a little bit. Here's what I found.
People really want to be safe in bathrooms. Good. Me, too! As a female, I would need 100+ hands to count how many times I have felt unsafe in public. I totally get this. I want all girls and women to feel safe and to actually be safe. Who are we "unsafe" from, you may wonder? Men, mostly. Men, almost exclusively. Men who identify as men. Men who are power hungry, predatory, insecure, or just plain horrible. I'm all for keeping men who identify as men out of restrooms designated for girls and women.
Along those lines, though, shouldn't we keep men out of boys' rooms, too? If men are the biggest sexual predators, seems like we need to do more to protect our girls AND BOYS. And fellow men who aren't sexual predators. If we could have bathrooms exclusively for sex offenders that would be great.
People are really confused about what exactly goes on in bathrooms. From my experience using girls/women's bathrooms I can say that I have never once - not ever! - been exposed to the genitalia of any other women using the same bathroom. In our bathrooms we have stalls. We do our bathroom business in private. It's also my understanding that boys/men have the option to either pee next to other dudes peeing at a urinal or to use a private stall for their business, much like in a ladies bathroom.
One commenter wrote, "I don't want the first penis my daughter sees to be from a strange man in her school's bathroom."
Do people think that a trans girl (who has male genitalia) will walk into a girl's bathroom, whip out her penis, and pee in the sink? Who does that? Trans girls use bathrooms just like non-trans girls. Trans boys (with female genitalia) use private stalls. No genitalia is being exposed to people who don't want to see it (or even to people who do). The exception of course is boys/men who use urinals in boys/men's bathrooms around other boys/men. You might see some junk then if you're not careful where you look.
In any case, when everyone is being appropriate and going where they identify, no one is seeing genitalia whipped out and thrown in anyone's face. The argument above is ridiculous here, in this case. That is not what we're talking about. That argument belongs in cases meant to protect kids from child molestors and other sexual predators, which brings us to my next point...
People are really confused about the difference between sexual predators/pedophiles and transgender people. There is a difference between a sex offender (who is, statistically, male and identifies as such) and a young girl who is biologically male but psychologically, socially, and emotionally female. A sexual predator, on the other hand, is psychologically abhorrent, deviant, and NOT THE SAME THING. Not at all. Not not not not not. Not.
A friend of mine has a daughter. Her daughter is beautiful and bright and courageous and kind. Her daughter is eleven years old. Her daughter also has male genitalia. Several years ago, my friend's then son was suicidal. At eight years old. He was miserable. He suffered from crippling depression and anxiety. One day he bravely told his mom that he was struggling so much because on the inside he knew he was a girl, but his body was a boy. This child was certain that God had made a mistake by giving this girl boy parts. He felt broken. He felt that he didn't belong. He felt he shouldn't be alive anymore.
Can you imagine being a parent and hearing this from your baby? Can you imagine hearing your baby, whom you love more than anything, whose existence is so God-ordained you feel it in your bones every time you see them, tell you they want to die because they feel so broken? I can't. It breaks me to even try.
But there my friend was, with her son who wanted to die at eight years old because he couldn't bear to go on living being a mistake. He couldn't go on living unable to be who he was on the inside.
And so my friend and her family did something courageous. They gave their son the freedom to be who he knew he was: a she. And she is incredible. She is thriving.
She wants to be able to go through life without discrimination. Without bullying. WIthout fear.
SHE is who we need to be protecting. Our trans kids need protection from bullies who have killed. From insecure abusers who are so afraid of their own sexuality they prey upon the innocence of others. From men, who make up the vast majority of pedophiles in prisons and on sex offender registries.
I want this young girl to be able to use the girls/women's bathroom because that is who she is. Do you want an eleven-year-old girl walking into the boys/men's room? What would happen to her? It is mind-boggling to me that so many people think it would be "safer" for trans boys and girls to use the bathroom of their biological sex, when what people would see on the outside is a young girl timidly going into a boys/men's room. Can you even imagine the reaction? What do you think boys would do to those girls? What do you think men would do? Would that girl feel safe?
My son doesn't need protecting from trans boys and girls who are doing the best they can to be fully and wholly themselves. My son - and all children, including trans children - need protection from bullies. Protection from predatory adults (remember, they are almost always males who identify as male). Protection from discriminatory policies that threaten to violate basic human rights.
I guess the real question I have is why does it matter? Why does it matter if a child who has female genitalia knows in her heart that her gender identity is male? Why does it matter if a woman once had male genitalia?
I just don't feel the kind of panic that some people do over this. My field trip into the comments section last night and today was brief but sobering. There is some serious ignorance out there, and hate speech as a result. My heart feels so heavy and I feel so powerless against such vitriol. From parents. People who are raising children. The things coming out of their mouths via the keyboard are horrifying.
Please understand that trans people are not the enemy. Trans boys, girls, women, and men are simply fellow human beings brave enough to take action to reconcile their identities with their experience. They are the ones who need protecting right now.
They are the vulnerable ones.
They just want to be themselves. Why can't we let them?