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Christian Parent Fights Back

I posted the “Forever Culture Wars” item [1]just now, about the importance of forming a real Christian resistance, and then checked my e-mail. Lo, a pastor sends me notice that since Friday’s Title IX ukase, he has been e-mailing back and forth with the principal and superintendent of his first-grade daughter’s public school, trying to determine what they really believe about the transgender bathroom issue, and what they plan to do about it. He hasn’t gotten a straight answer.

Today the pastor and his wife met with the principal. He writes:

“The key moment came when I asked a simple question: ‘Is there a natural difference between boys and girls?’ Answer: ‘I refuse to answer that question.'” Unbelievable. She also explained that she kept politics and philosophy out of education. When we left, I gave her my copy of Lewis’ The Abolition of Man. Rereading it this week, I realize that it is probably best characterized as a work of philosophical prophecy.

The pastor provided a copy of the letter he wrote to the principal and the superintendent, but removed their names from it for use on this blog, to protect their privacy:

Dear Mrs Principal and Dr Superintendent,

By way of preliminaries – and also to help Dr S in his own deliberations – I would like to clarify a bit how one citizen sees this matter.

First of all, for us, this is not fundamentally a question of “feelings” or about “safety.” A special bathroom would hurt our daughters feelings, certainly; and I do think implementing this decree will lead to an increase in child abuse and sexual assault. Fundamentally, however, this is a question of truth. I “feel” that my daughter would be “safe” at her school for the rest of the school year; that would be very different, Dr S, if she were a 14 year old changing in school locker rooms. But because I am a man of conviction, feelings and safety pale in comparison to telling and living the truth. It is true, I am a Christian – what is perhaps worse, I am a pastor and theologian – and I happen to believe that the Son of Mary who was crucified by Pontius Pilate for telling the truth is Truth himself in our flesh and blood. But on the priority of the truth in the moral fabric of a just society, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Lincoln or – what is probably more apposite just now – Vaclav Havel would say nothing less than this. Right:

The real issue here is that the Obama administration’s decree is at the surface a pragmatic directive regarding the use of bathroom facilities etc., but implicitly and by logical necessity, it is a claim about what is in fact the case (i.e., true) regarding human nature as an essentially fluid and endlessly malleable reality. That is to say, it is a denial of the reality of any such thing as “human nature” beyond the self-determining dictates of the sovereign, autonomous will. It is, in short, philosophy decked out in bureaucratic dress and backed with a closed fist aimed at deviant philosophers such as myself. You need to know this; you need to know that by implementing the decree, you are not just acting to protect the feelings or safety of a minority. (For the record, as a citizen of this nation but especially as a Christian, I firmly believe that the feelings and safety of every child, including children who are confused about their own identity, must be respected and protected; I am no bigot, and God helping me I am certainly no Pharisee; if you ever happen to visit my parish, you will hear that in the name of Jesus Christ I preach grace as a free gift for undeserving people such as myself.) Rather, if you implement this decree, you will be enforcing a highly contested philosophical anthropology that is basically 30 years old, a philosophical anthropology that (without exaggeration) every civilization in the history of the human race would regard as sheer folly. You see, the President is making philosophers of you all! Make no mistake: this “policy” decree is fundamentally an issue of truth; it is philosophical.

Second, you need to see, Mrs P, that the beneath surface neutrality of your initial reply to my question there already lies a veiled but definite answer. For in offering to allow my child, a girl, to use a special bathroom of her own, you have implicitly declared that queer is straight and straight is queer. Because I believe my daughter is a girl; because I believe that her femininity is a given fact of her being; because I believe that this givenness is but one instantiation of the order of things which, because of a borrowed goodness derived from the infinite goodness of the Maker of all things, is good; and because I believe that this matters: my daughter is to be “queered,” i.e., she (together with all who think as she does) must be sent to a space of her own. She must be sent to the corner; the dunce cap must be placed upon her head.

Third and last – and I direct this comment esp. to Dr S – Mrs P assures me that nothing will be done “in haste.” I should think not! I should think that, since the civilization-grounding fact of difference between Man and Woman – a difference that is grounded in biology, but that runs down into mystical depths deeper than any of us really understand – since this difference of biological sex is itself the foundation of life, the home, culture, nations … I should think that no one – and surely no one entrusted with the care of infinitely precious little human beings – would dare to manipulate a reality as basic, primal, and awesome as Man and Woman, Boys and Girls. That would be “hasty” indeed; to tinker with human nature after 30 years of philosophical experimentation, to tinker with human nature after a single decree from a federal bureaucracy that does not reflect the consent of the people – for the people have not been consulted – that would be hasty. By contrast: to defend and uphold the reality of sexual difference, a reality that has only seriously been questioned in the past 30 years of human history, to do that would be to act in patience.

With grave concern, but also with patient regard for the givenness of things, and with the hope that rises up in my soul every time I see blades of grass (i.e., nature) break up concrete sidewalks (i.e., the imposition of human will upon nature), I am your fellow citizen,

​The Revd Dr N., Citizen of the Republic

Reader, you need to understand the propagandizing that the federal government — and, in the case of the Fort Worth ISD [2], local school authorities — are pressing on your children. Fortunately, some states have governors that are standing up to Obama on this one (I, it appears, am not governed by such a man). Whatever your local situation, please get it straight in your mind that this is not simply about bathrooms and locker rooms. The pastor understands it well.

“The Benedict Option isn’t an option anymore,” he said.

What are you going to do this fall when school starts again? You had better start talking about it, with your pastor and everybody else in your community.

I was comforted today by Donald Trump’s list of judges he would consider nominating for the Supreme Court [3]. All of them are members of the Federalist Society. All are pro-life. I don’t know where they stand on religious liberty and this transgender stuff, but I have absolutely no doubt that they would be immeasurably better than anybody Hillary Clinton would name.

As an aside, I voted Democratic in the Louisiana governor’s race last fall because the budget was a hellacious mess and I didn’t trust Republicans to fix it. Besides, the Democrat, John Bel Edwards, is a pro-life Catholic. How socially liberal could he be? At the time, my friend and neighbor, a fellow conservative, taunted me for voting D.

Today my neighbor forwarded me this e-mail he received back from the governor’s office, and taunted me even more heavily:

Thank you for contacting the office of Governor John Bel Edwards with your concern regarding the federal issued guidance on transgender access to school restrooms.

Governor Edwards is reviewing the guidance from the US Department of Justice and Department of Education. It appears that this guidance is simply clarifying current law under Title IX. The governor is working closely with the Louisianan [sic] Department of Education to meet our shared goal of fostering a safe, non-discriminatory environment for our children.

Your position has been forwarded to the governor’s policy team for notation. We appreciate your input as we work to meet the needs of our state.

Vote Democratic, roll out the welcome mat to girls with penises in your daughter’s locker room. So noted.

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138 Comments To "Christian Parent Fights Back"

#1 Comment By Erin On May 19, 2016 @ 10:57 pm

I’m a bit shocked at how fast things seem to be moving… tonight I was watching a video on Youtube, and the ad before it started was a Tylenol ad, promoting gay marriage and transgenderism. Tylenol! What the *&^%^ does Tylenol have to do with any of that? Where do I sign up for the Resistance?

#2 Comment By xxx On May 20, 2016 @ 12:08 am

Erdick:

Probably in the rest room that conforms to their biological sex, because society didn’t put up with their attempts to force their condition on the rest of us. The few who could pass went to the other restroom (assuming they weren’t in a mental hospital or prison)

Bzzzzt. No. Transgender people who have transitioned, with and without surgery, have been using the restroom of their apparent gender. For decades. By the thousands. And most of the time, no one even noticed. But thanks for acknowledging that prison and mental hospitals used to be the preferred “solution” when folks like today’s hysterics were in charge.

#3 Comment By John Spragge On May 20, 2016 @ 12:43 am

The idea of a perfect G-d making and looking for perfection and order comes through in parts of the Hebrew Bible, particularly the prohibitions against persons with certain disabilities serving as priests. The Gospel (John 9) tells us the disciples expressed this attitude to Jesus, asking Him whose sin had caused the blindness of a man born in that condition. Jesus rejects this moral outlook,m and indeed turns it on its head, telling them that in the man born blind, in the disabled and the different, the outcast and the hurting, lies an opportunity to make the works of G-d manifest. That opportunity exists for us today, once we stop treating the patterns in creation as the proverbial Procrustean bed.

#4 Comment By E. Potson On May 20, 2016 @ 4:13 am

a commenter: All of us women have been told that it is now bigoted to object to the presence of someone with a penis stripping all the way down in our locker room right in front of us.

Yeah, I’m gonna have to call bull$hit on this flimsy straw man. The only people around here who seem to ever even use the term “bigot” are those who claim to have been called that by someone else. See the dialogue above between Adamant and Annie.

This sappy claim that you’re being called a bigot seems to be nothing more than a way of not having to deal with the substance of your interlocutor’s argument. You may or may not be a bigot, and most people won’t have any problem identifying you as one if (a) doing so is relevant to the discussion at hand, and (b) that’s what they truly believe. Why don’t you wait for someone to actually call you a bigot before you accuse people of having done that?

Moreover, so what if some has called you a bigot? It’s not as if bigots don’t actually exists and aren’t part of everyday society. Bigots and non-bigots conduct normal relations and have respectful disagreements with with one another all the time. Do you realize how often Rod pathetically whines that someone hates him and his fellow travelers based solely on account of that person’s disagreement with him over a policy issue? It would be stupid of us to stop advancing our substantive arguments merely because he’s called us names.

#5 Comment By Eamus Catuli On May 20, 2016 @ 4:50 am

@Erin, the Target peeping Tom is wanted by police, who were apparently alerted by Target’s own staff or with their cooperation. We have no evidence yet that this has anything to do with transgender-access policies. Maybe when the guy’s arrested we’ll get the full story; maybe it will turn out that he has no record of this kind of thing and was entirely law-abiding until April 16 of this year, when Target announced its new policy, and only then did he get the idea to go around making videos in changing rooms. But at the moment, assuming there’s some connection to the policy is like pointing to a black man holding up a white-owned liquor store and blaming it on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because that’s what forced the store owner to take down his “Whites Only” sign.

“a commenter” mentions the Planet Fitness story, which Snopes investigated and rates “Mostly False”:

[4]

It’s not the only such story that Snopes has debunked:

[5]

Viking links to a story from Canada, which is better attested via a link to the Toronto Sun. Of course, in ultraliberal Canada with its metrosexual Prime Minister and all, they’re perfectly fine with sex criminals claiming the rights of the transgendered, yes? Well, um:

The judge said he imposed the indefinite prison sentence because there’s a great risk that Hambrook will commit more sex crimes and require strict supervision if he returns to the community. [emphasis added]

In fact, this clown has apparently been in and out of the system for 25 years for this sort of thing (i.e. since age 12; he’s now 37) — in other words, since long before transgender policies became a thing and probably before he could even spell the word. So transgenderism is just an excuse he threw against the wall this last time to see if it would stick. It didn’t.

(Let’s also recall here the sacred conservative principle that criminality exists independently of the illegality of the means. I wish had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it argued that gun-control laws won’t significantly impede gun crimes because criminals will just ignore or find ways around them. But now we hear that criminal sex offenders will be stopped if you put the right signs on the bathroom door. OK — if I accept that principle, then can I have my gun-control laws too? That’s a trade-off I’d happily agree to.)

My point is that if you want public support for more restrictive laws and policies, you’re much more likely to get it if you can document an actual problem and present this as evidence that they’re needed. I myself favor civil rights for the transgendered, but I would agree that public safety comes first, as do reasonable expectations of privacy in certain settings like locker rooms where people are especially vulnerable. I’m for protecting people in those situations, not against it, and I think most fair-minded citizens would be. But you yourself put support for the policies you want at risk when you try to base them on suppositions and easily debunked urban legends instead of facts.

#6 Comment By Adamant On May 20, 2016 @ 6:26 am

Annie says:
May 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm

“How does saying advocates of the “settled order” perpetuate “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence” not amount to saying those advocates are bigots?”

Two things are true. 1. I never said it, so no, my comment doesn’t ‘amount’ to saying it. It is not a question of ‘semantics’ to keep claiming so, and 2. the prior settled order was, and is in many ways still is an ongoing horror-show for those on the receiving end of it. This is an empirical fact, not an opinion.

“What does it mean to “feel” like a woman? Can you tell me, without resorting to sexist stereotypes?”

No idea, and neither do you, and it’s not relevant to the discussion at hand. I don’t have to fully understand the internal lives of others not at all like me to demand respect, equal treatment, and dignity for all. Sorry, that’s just how I roll.

“Can you tell me why it’s morally right to redefine the norm in terms of the outlier, though subjectivism cannot be used to defend ideas of moral absolutes?”

Because in the absence of direct harm, it’s not moral question at all, unless you define ‘moral’ as adhering to an inherent and divinely ordained sexual telos. That’s fine, if you like, if it pleases you, if it makes you feel better, if that’s your hobby, but I’m going to draw the line on actions, either personal or via the state, that causes direct harm to my fellow man on those grounds alone. As a previous commenter posted, transgender protections have been an on the ground fact in several states for years; in Hawaii as far back as 2008 IIRC. The nightmare dystopia that some, Rod included, have assured us is going to occur has in fact *not* occurred. If you have actual evidence to the contrary, I’m glad to hear it. But the strident nature of the claim (sexual predators rampaging through bathrooms/locker rooms) vs. the paucity of the evidence that anything like that has happened make me suspicious, as they should make you suspicious.

Human biology will dictate that the vast majority of homo sapiens will be both cis-gender and hetero. There is obviously a subset of the human population that *is* not. This is again, one of those stubborn facts that no amount of metaphysical hand-waving is going to wish away.

But I think this last comment is something of a giveaway, as the same language was used during the SSM debate: ‘who gets to define’ marriage/gender etc. For the decades and centuries I referred to in my earlier comment, it was defined and realized by cultural and legal force in a very particular way. Advocates for the return of this settled order are arguing, in fact, they the reigns of power in this sphere be handed back to them. When they had it, did they use it well? Justly? Kindly? Compassionately? The evidence strongly suggests that they did not, which is why I am and remain suspicious of those who agitate for its return.

#7 Comment By Annie On May 20, 2016 @ 7:43 am

E. Potson, I’m going to assume my comment had not been posted yet when you wrote yours. But because I think the obfuscation and bait-and-switching used by the new ideologues deserves rebuke, I’m going to repeat two bits from that post:

“How does saying advocates of the “settled order” perpetuate “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence” not amount to saying those advocates are bigots? “Bigot” is the word most commonly thrown around and so I used it to sum up your perspective. That you ignore all the substance to focus on a semantic issue (while also avoiding that, semantically speaking, your accusations did indeed amount to accusations of bigotry) is typical of the obfuscation employed by the new ideologues.

“You go on to use emotionally-charged words like “freaks” which the letter-writer never used as if that were the letter-writer’s belief…..You say “I never said bigot!” But you didn’t have to. You just implied the letter writer was determined to use violence to oppress “freaks.”

“It would be interesting if you would stop arguing semantics and engage with the substance of the letters arguments. What does it mean to “feel” like a woman? Can you tell me, without resorting to sexist stereotypes? Can you tell me why we shouldn’t say the sky is green if a color-blind person says it is? Can you tell me why we should believe the self-identified transgender, but not the person suffering from MPD? Can you tell me why it’s morally right to redefine the norm in terms of the outlier, though subjectivism cannot be used to defend ideas of moral absolutes?”

You can pretend skeptics aren’t being called bigots, or that we don’t want to engage in substantial debate, but it’s not the reality.

#8 Comment By VikingLS On May 20, 2016 @ 8:09 am

@Eamus

The point is not that allowing free access for biological males to enter female only spaces means that they have carte blanche to commit crimes. THe point is that the opportunity for those crimes has been vastly expanded.

It doesn’t matter that the perpetrator is a loser who’s been in the criminal system for decades. It did happen.

The only options here are not the NC bill or Obama’s directive. There are ways to find compromises on this. There isn’t going to be a compromise everybody is happy with, but that’s life.

However before we can even get that far you’re going to have to back off your position that the other side has no legitimate concerns.

If you are unwilling to do that we have to try and go around you or if we must over you.

#9 Comment By Weisshaupt On May 20, 2016 @ 8:25 am

Isn’t education supposed to be about Facts? Isn’t denying to teach a FACT or even admit that one exists engaging in political philosophy? 2+2=5 the liberals cry – not because they believe it but because they need to know they have broken other people and ground them into submission to the point were sane people will speak obvious untruths. THAT is what this is about. It is about control and submission – and the demonic joy that liberals get after bullying someone into speaking lies to appease a liberal’s feelings. After all, its the only way liberals will ever get everyone to enforce their safe spaces around their own narcissistic egos. Make no mistake, the pastor is right. This isn’t about anything but getting people used to totalitarian control of their attitudes and thoughts – starting of course, with our children.

#10 Comment By VikingLS On May 20, 2016 @ 8:49 am

One possible solution would be to allow legal adults to change their sex on their driver’s license and base accommodations on that document rather than simply rely on personal testimony.

As to schools, the solution many schools had been trying, giving transgender students access to private facilities probably was the right solution to begin with. (And honestly bathrooms and locker rooms in school seem like the perfect environment to bully a transgender kid if the birth gendered kids are there in any numbers).

That the student in question might feel different or just inconvenienced is part of life.

Sports participation really needs to be based in birth gender or teams just need to be made intersex. (Doing away with school sports programs altogether might make the most sense, but that’s not going to happen)

Not claiming this is perfect, but compromises always are imperfect and are going to have “what if?” aspects.

Or we could go to plan B.

In this plan nobody accepts a compromise and we push for total victory while hurling accusations and only listening to the other people’s points looking for an angle to rebut them, with emotive arguments if possible.

I’m afraid that progressives are going to opt for plan B as it has been serving them rather well during the Obama administration (I don’t know if they’ve forgotten the Bush years or are looking for payback.)

#11 Comment By Annie On May 20, 2016 @ 9:07 am

First: so it walks like a chicken, clucks like a chicken, looks like a chicken, but hey, you never called it a chicken. Hmmm.

Second: I don’t have to tell you how it feels like to be a woman because it is a reality. I am a woman. It doesn’t “feel” like anything. And it is absolutely relevant to the discussion, because if 18 year old females are having double mastectomies because of “feelings” that no one is willing to define or evaluate, then medical malpractice is occurring.

Third: The old “direct harm” canard. If oung people with healthy bodies are being propagandized into receiving expensive, and sometimes lifelong, medical treatments which directly harm those bodies, it is a concern to everyone. Just the same as family members and friends are concerned when someone joins a cult. You aren’t an atomized individual in a vacuum, though that’s what our consumption-oriented society wants you to believe. When a factory dumps their pollution into the water supply upstream, it affects everyone. When the medical establishment pushes testosterone treatments on people, it affects families, convinces people who aren’t sick that they are, and pumps hormones into the water supply.

I don’t know what you mean by nightmare dystopia, if the stories documented in numerous places of children being groomed, encouraged to self-mutilate, and then, after the accompanying mental illness goes untreated, falling into drugs or death, aren’t nightmare dystopias. These stories and victims are everywhere. I’ve known them. Just because that’s not the happy face put in ads by big businesses like Tylenol doesn’t mean it isn’t the reality.

Well, I’m glad you acknowledge who has the “reigns [sic] of power.” It’s tiresome to pretend there isn’t an overwhelming movement by corporations, the media, and elite politicians to push this movement.

To be fair, I don’t disagree that the previous order had injustice, oppression, or a lack of mercy. Of course it did. Of course many people who agree with me on the dangers of the trans-movement would go back to ignoring the cruelties perpetuated on those who don’t fit the norm. And that is atrocious. But it doesn’t mean it is any kinder or more compassionate to pretend an illness is not an illness. Or that anyone benefits from a shift in understanding of gender that actually reinforces stereotypes, while refusing scientific or objective examination.

There’s enormous money in disconnecting us from our bodies and our families. I think Ivan Illich’s “Limits to Medicine” and Jacques Ellul’s “The Technological Society” do a good job getting at some of the underlying assumptions which are a major problem in our culture. While I’m critical of normalizing transgenderism, especially among children, the same philosophy of medicine, technology, consumer capitalism, and a centralized bureaucracy affects me personally in many others, and it is not easy disentangling myself from my own dependence upon that mindset. None of this is easy. Lots of charity is needed. But I cannot back down from saying body dysphoria is not dysphoria. I’m not afraid to say I believe in climate change; what happens when others feel afraid to speak what they believe is scientific truth? And I feel more and more afraid of publicly speaking my opinion regarding gender identity theorem, because I witness the vitriol hurled at skeptics everyday.

#12 Comment By TA On May 20, 2016 @ 9:29 am

@Patrick

I need him only to “make the deal” in appointing pro-lifers.

I get that. My point is that there is nothing at all binding about “the deal” once Trump would be elected.

I’ll put it this way. Assume he has pledged to appoint only judges from this list, provided you and a bunch of other people have voted for him. He even manages to be consistent on this up through election day. Then, assume he is elected and is now President.

Now, we take everything we know about Trump’s behaviors and history in his personal, professional, and political lives and are left with a simple question:

Based on everything we know about the man, how likely is Trump to feel constrained by his side of the judge deal, once he has gotten what he wants from the deal?

Based purely on the man’s observed history, it just seems laughable to me. He might, he might not. Everything we know about him says he’ll just do whatever he feels like at the time.

For the obligatory “both sides do it”, I think Clinton would feel much more constrained if she did something similar. I don’t think she would just go with whatever whims she had at the time. However, if some new court prospect came along who was polling even marginally better than the people she originally proposed, the original list would get dropped like a hot potato.

#13 Comment By Patrick On May 20, 2016 @ 9:33 am

@ E. Potson:

“When liberals said they cared about Bill Clinton’s domestic policies and not his sexual improprieties, conservatives frequently considered that to be a moral failing on our part.”

That’s true, though a lot of the criticism was feminists defending Bill Clinton whereas they had attacked Republican Bob Packwood for the same thing. There appeared to be a self-righteousness on the left (“Republicans hate women!”) that they were willing to disregard when it suited them.

Some evangelicals will have an awkward time with Trump, because they are the rightwing version of American feminists: their argument relies a bit on “our side is more righteous than yours…because we said so” – very Calvinistic and not something I agree with as a traditional Catholic. But this is a fissure, ultimately, between conservative Protestantism and orthodox Catholicism in my opinion.

#14 Comment By Roux On May 20, 2016 @ 9:43 am

Never trust a Democrat…

FWIW Obama poured oil on the slippery slope… Up next normalizing pedophilia.

#15 Comment By David Pittelli On May 20, 2016 @ 9:44 am

E. Potson:

So please tell us yourself, what would you call girls who “object to the presence of someone with a penis stripping all the way down in our locker room right in front of us”? Are their objections and concerns rational? Do they deserve a safe space, or not?

#16 Comment By David Pittelli On May 20, 2016 @ 9:48 am

Adamant:

The North Carolina law requires people to use the bathroom matching the sex on their birth certificate. Transgender people can get their birth certificates changed. (In NC, they need to have undergone genital surgery to do so.) As such, the law is not a ban on all transgender people using their desired bathroom, but rather a ban on people who either aren’t really transgender, or who are incompletely transgender, from using their desired bathroom.

One can argue that the state should let the incompletely transsexual (e.g., who have had breast surgery or hormones) get their birth certificates changed. But according to the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter, not only should students with penises be allowed into the girls’ locker room, literally any boy must be allowed into the girls’ locker room, as long as he claims he identifies as a woman. Schools are not allowed to have a “medical diagnosis or treatment requirement” or to consider “identification documents.”

There aren’t that many transsexuals, and most of them have not sought confrontation because they are simply trying to pass as their preferred sex, but that is not very strong evidence that the Obama Administration’s position will likewise have few problems. Pointing out that trans people haven’t caused problems so far is not really relevant to the question of whether the federal government should so rigidly require “acceptance” of trans people.

Saying that your opponents’ position fosters “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence” is not the same as calling them “bigots,” but it implies that they are either bigots or fools who unknowingly back the side of bigotry. At any rate, what evidence do you have that a school having a trans student use a single-occupancy bathroom causes more “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence” than does the school forcing the rest of the students to share a locker room with the trans student?

It seems to me that the “Dear Colleague” letter is at least as extreme, and at least as likely to foster “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence,” as is the position of the state of North Carolina. If it leads to more violence against transsexuals, could we then say that you a person fostering “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence,” or will that be a reason for the Obama Administration (and all non-bigots) to double down on its interpretation of the rights of transsexuals?

#17 Comment By Roger II On May 20, 2016 @ 11:26 am

“Vote Democratic, roll out the welcome mat to girls with penises in your daughter’s locker room. So noted.”

And after yesterday’s shenanigans in the House, in which the Republicans kept a vote open well past the official closing time to ensure that federal defense contractors (receiving millions in federal tax dollars) are able to discriminate against LGBT employees . . . Vote Republican, roll up the welcome mat to all LGBT citizens and make sure discrimination against LGBT citizens is permitted by the law of the land.

#18 Comment By Erdrick On May 20, 2016 @ 12:13 pm

xxx says:
May 20, 2016 at 12:08 am

Bzzzzt. No. Transgender people who have transitioned, with and without surgery, have been using the restroom of their apparent gender. For decades. By the thousands. And most of the time, no one even noticed. But thanks for acknowledging that prison and mental hospitals used to be the preferred “solution” when folks like today’s hysterics were in charge.

Wow! For decades! That really must mean that there’s no such thing as men and women! Thanks for enlightening me!

The only “hysterics” in this debate are the various nutbags on your side trying to redefine reality. Trans people are not normal. The ones who aren’t solely play-acting for attention likely have a medical / mental condition, and they should get reasonable accomodations to help them deal with it, but they don’t get to redefine reality to make them feel better about themselves.

#19 Comment By JessicaR On May 20, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

Someone referred to a study posted by Media Matters concluding that the risk to women of allowing transsexuals in women’s rooms is a non-issue. The “study” basically quoted heads of agencies from all different states saying that there had been no problems.

A few comments.

First of all, this is not really a “study” even though Media Matters calls it that. It is a collection of observations made by various officials. In other words, these are anecdotes. We can also assume that many of these people are worried about losing their jobs if they make a politically incorrect statement.

A real study would involve a thorough search of arrest records and police reports made by independent researchers, not government bureaucrats saying “If this had happened, I would have heard about it.”

The fact that Media Matters is even promoting this as some kind of valid study shows their bias.

For the record, I do regard gender dysphoria as a legitimate medical condition that, as far as I can tell, is the result of altered hormonal levels in-utero. Such persons deserve compassion and support.

However, I am also aware of how voyeuristic and sexually aggressive a sizable minority of men can be. The phenomenon of men using cell phones to take up-skirt photos of women’s intimate areas is but one example.

Some men who use cell phones in such a way will not be above dressing as a woman to gain entry into women’s rooms and use their cell phones in a similar way.

While this could have happened before, the existence of these transgender-friendly directives will make it harder to stop such men in the future because anyone who stops them can be charged with discrimination.

#20 Comment By Adamant On May 20, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

Annie says:

May 20, 2016 at 9:07 am

I never called it a ‘chicken’ because hurling insults in that way ends conversation: no one ever had a constructive dialogue, much less convinced anyone by doing so. Do I think you’re wrong on this issue, and wrong in a way that causes no small measure of harm? I do. It doesn’t follow that I’ve hurled a veiled insult at anyone. Please stop pretending that I’ve said it, implied it, or thought it. It has no basis in fact, and your continued insinuations of ‘well what you really thought was’ is tedious.

“Well, I’m glad you acknowledge who has the “reigns [sic] of power.” It’s tiresome to pretend there isn’t an overwhelming movement by corporations, the media, and elite politicians to push this movement.”

Yes, the power is now invested in the individual to make the choice. Again, that’s just how I roll.

David Pittelli says:

May 20, 2016 at 9:48 am

“Pointing out that trans people haven’t caused problems so far is not really relevant to the question of whether the federal government should so rigidly require “acceptance” of trans people.”

Yes, I do point that out, for the exact reason that Eamus Catuli pointed out earlier upthread: the play-acting like we are completely in the dark on what these policies have is simply not true. 12 states have these protections. If there is causal link between policies of this sort and some verifiable, real, and documented increase of sexual assult, violence, school disruption, etc, I really am open to hearing it. I’m the husband of a wife and the father of a daughter on the cusp of Jr. High school, so this isn’t a theoretical exercise for me. Public safety, especially of children, is truly the higher value if it can be shown to exist in reality.

I do get extremely skeptical of those, however, who intimate that a policy change of this sort is going to lead to overt bad outcomes, when we have many years of empirical evidence of nothing of the sort happening. The degree of certainty with which the belief is held, and the dearth of evidence for it, leads me suspect people of either arguing this point in bad faith, or of merely letting their fears get the best of them.

“Saying that your opponents’ position fosters “oppression, indignity, ostracism, and violence” is not the same as calling them “bigots,” but it implies that they are either bigots or fools who unknowingly back the side of bigotry.”

You may take it any way you wish, and arguing to the contrary is not grounds for implying that an insult has been stated outright, or smuggled into an argument. I have no doubt that there are many on the opposing side of this debate that find those that hold to my position are sexual libertines who in a fit of PC-induced hysteria, are actively attempting to put women and children at greater risk of sexual predators. I’ll take notice if/when someone makes the charge, not before.

#21 Comment By RichardB On May 20, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

“By the way, is there something in the water these days? Transgenders have always been around, but they were very rare. ”

Nobody saw women’s ankles out in public during the Victorian Era, but I’m pretty sure they existed. Or maybe they didn’t. I just don’t know!

#22 Comment By Eamus Catuli On May 20, 2016 @ 3:33 pm

@VikingLS:

However before we can even get that far you’re going to have to back off your position that the other side has no legitimate concerns.

See my response on the Tylenol thread. The concerns are of course legitimate. Their salience for public policy-making, though, doesn’t just depend on that, nor does the question of what policy response is appropriate. These also depend on the facts of the matter.

You’ve got at least 12 states and a bunch of other jurisdictions, not counting Canada and presumably parts of Europe, already running an experiment on this. An increase in actual danger would be showing up by now, one would think. Sorry, but one guy who was already preying on people, and who makes a lame argument that doesn’t even work and gets him sent to prison anyway, is not evidence of an increased danger. To rely on something like that is basically to concede that good evidence doesn’t exist, at least not yet.

#23 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 20, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

So, a question for the room, following on VikingLS’s The point is not that allowing free access for biological males to enter female only spaces means that they have carte blanche to commit crimes. The point is that the opportunity for those crimes has been vastly expanded.

Our criminal justice system is predicated on the foundational assumption of innocent until proven guilty. The system sits passively until an actual incident is deemed a crime and the alleged perpetrator is brought to the system.

Have we become so pessimistic and so minimally expecting good from people that we start with the assumption that given an opportunity, a person will choose to commit a crime rather than not?

I am emphatically serious about my question. These are not just any boys or young men. These are our sons and brothers. If you have either, silently examine him and ask yourself: would he act on that opportunity?

Your answer to both questions is humbly requested.

#24 Comment By Eamus Catuli On May 20, 2016 @ 4:24 pm

@Viking, maybe this will explain the point better. Is it legitimate to be concerned about Muslim terrorism? About illegal immigration? About the loss of US manufacturing jobs? Of course is it. These are all very legitimate concerns.

But does that mean that I support a blanket ban on Muslims entering the US? Or hunting down and deporting 11 million people? Or provoking a trade war with China?

I do not. Do you? Maybe so. But if not, does that mean that you’re denying that people who favor such policies have legitimate concerns? Of course it doesn’t.

All it means is that you’re making a different calculation about the best policy response, weighing various factors including the actual harms attributable to current policy, the costs and tradeoffs of the proposed alternatives, their possible unintended consequences or “blowback,” and the possible harm that adopting them might do to other legitimate policy goals.

Factoring all that in, one might legitimately conclude that even a legitimate concern about Muslim terrorism, say, does not justify Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. In fact, it seems that even Donald Trump might be concluding this, since he’s apparently now downgrading that and other erstwhile positions to mere “suggestions.”

So: bathroom predators taking advantage of transgender access are also a legitimate concern, and will be even more so if someone ever shows that they actually exist. But recognizing the issue’s legitimacy is not the end of the discussion.

#25 Comment By Clare Krishan On May 20, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

“It is, in short, philosophy decked out in bureaucratic dress and backed with a closed fist aimed at deviant philosophers such as myself.” This.

China does it.

Russia does it.

Now the USA does it.

But they’re the bad guys; why exactly?

#26 Comment By E. Potson On May 20, 2016 @ 9:28 pm

David Pitelli: So please tell us yourself, what would you call girls who “object to the presence of someone with a penis stripping all the way down in our locker room right in front of us”?

Why not call them “girls” or “girls who oppose the use of bathrooms based on gender identity”?

Are their objections and concerns rational? Do they deserve a safe space, or not?

Their concerns are rational and they do deserve a safe space. However, because there is no evidence at all that permitting transgenders to use the bathroom of their gender identity makes such bathrooms unsafe, I don’t see how these girls’ rational interest in being safe is advanced by prohibiting transgenders to use the bathrooms. Eamus Catuli has been pleading on this blog for evidence of a threat and no one has provided any. Maybe you have some evidence that you’ll share with us.

In the interim, you may want to consider that transgenders have been with us all along; they’ve typically used the bathroom of their gender identity; and people either didn’t know about it or care about it. The only thing that has changed is that recently the Obama Administration issued guidance that reminded schools that Title IX, as interpreted by multiple courts with judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, requires schools to provide accommodations to transgenders and such accommodations may have to include bathroom access based on gender identity.

That guidance naturally attracted a lot of attention and it understandably caused a lot of concern for the safety and privacy of non-transgenders. The debate that is now occurring is a very healthy debate so long as it remains rational and sticks to relevant facts. Rationality requires both sides to consider what exactly has changed of late and what is the factual evidence that that change has, or will, produce a risk that outweighs the benefit of the change. So far, I don’t think people who oppose bathroom access based on gender identity have addressed either of these questions.

I don’t have a strong feeling about this issue either way. Like practically everyone else, I had never given much thought to which bathroom a transgender uses. But, now that this incredibly trivial issue has taken on such a high profile, I have thought about it some and my best take on the issue is this:

1. Most people are primarily concerned about the privacy and safety of both non-transgenders and transgenders. They want to find some accommodation for the tiny number of transgenders without (a) significantly disrupting the lives of 99.9% of the population and (b) risking the safety and privacy of non-transgenders. When people come to understand that transgenders have always used the bathroom of their gender identity, the facts on the ground today are the same as they were 5 years ago, and the only thing that’s changed is their own awareness of the facts on the ground, they then recognize this is a nothingburger.

2. Distinct from the group in #1, there is a very small number of people who think this issue is about more than access to bathrooms. These people think this issue is about changing “reality” and the meaning of “male” and “female.” For this very small group, the fact that there may be no actual loss of safety or privacy is really beside the point. For them, the concern is society’s acceptance and accommodation of transgenders. This group fears something really bad will happen if this accommodation occurs. They haven’t described with any specificity what that bad thing is, but they just know it will happen. Their argument is very similar to the argument they made against same-sex marriage. Not surprisingly, their argument is as equally unpersuasive in a pluralistic, secular society that cannot give weight to religious arguments.

I think we should engage the concerns of the first group and ignore the concerns of the second group until they can make an argument that does not rely on metaphysics, religion or some such other.

#27 Comment By E. Potson On May 20, 2016 @ 9:32 pm

Patrick: That’s true, though a lot of the criticism was feminists defending Bill Clinton whereas they had attacked Republican Bob Packwood for the same thing. There appeared to be a self-righteousness on the left (“Republicans hate women!”) that they were willing to disregard when it suited them.

This is true and I had forgotten about it.

#28 Comment By E. Potson On May 20, 2016 @ 9:42 pm

VikingLS: The only options here are not the NC bill or Obama’s directive. There are ways to find compromises on this. There isn’t going to be a compromise everybody is happy with, but that’s life.

This is true, but it doesn’t address whose happiness has to be satisfied. In the case of Gavin Gramm, he and his school did reach a compromise that satisfied all of the parties that were directly affected. That compromise had been in place for six months without incident or evidence of a diminution in anyone’s safety or privacy. Then, the school district intervened to kill that compromise. So, should the happiness of the distant, district office prevail over the happiness of the local school that was on the front line?

#29 Comment By E. Potson On May 20, 2016 @ 10:00 pm

Annie: You can pretend skeptics aren’t being called bigots, or that we don’t want to engage in substantial debate, but it’s not the reality.

I don’t have to pretend you aren’t being called a bigot because you aren’t, which is why you haven’t provided a single example of anyone, anywhere using that term to describe your side. Instead, what you’ve had to resort to is claiming that what people really mean when they explain their opposition to your view is that you are a bigot. To try to buck up this far-fetched claim you then create your own definition of the term “bigot” so that your opponents’ behavior fits within that definition. Unfortunately for your argument, the definition you created is not one that can be found in any dictionary, nor does it conform to the colloquial meaning of the term “bigot.”

You’re accusing your opponents of calling you a bigot because you think that will demonstrate their opposition to any reasonable argument you put forward. That is, if your opponent has unreasonably concluded you are a bigot, then of course your opponent is a reactionary who has chosen not to deal with the substance of your argument. It’s a cheap, lazy way of making a preemptive ad hominem attack on your opponent. Most people can recognize it for what it is, and they are not persuaded by it.

#30 Comment By richard40 On May 22, 2016 @ 12:01 am

Of course Trump sided with the LGBT position on bathrooms, so dont count on much help from him.

#31 Comment By Anne On May 22, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

So another long comment of mine seems to have joined the others lost in the ether.

To test the waters, I’m going to try a quickie directed at Erin Manning’s reposting of that Target story about the guy caught peeping over a dressing room partition at a little girl:

1. The guy wasn’t transgender. He just looked like any guy.
2. Nobody failed to report the incident out of fear of being called a bigot. In fact, it was immediately reported, the perpetrator was caught on camera and everything was reported to police.
3. There’s no evidence this even took place in a space designated for females, since the dressing rooms at most Target stores are gender-neutral.

Can we finally retire this incident from the new “body” of evidence allegedly showing some “danger” inherent in letting trans people use spaces designatedd for people who look like them?

#32 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 22, 2016 @ 8:40 pm

In the case of Gavin Gramm, he and his school did reach a compromise that satisfied all of the parties that were directly affected.

No, it didn’t. The parties not involved in the negotiations were the other students using the same facilities, and their parents. Thus, the school administration had to back down from the “compromise” between themselves and Gavin Grimm, which “compromised” everyone else’s privacy.

The only reasonable accommodation for a person going through the ambiguities of trans-sexuality or gender dysphoria is a private space where exactly what they are or aren’t will not be an issue, and neither their privacy nor anyone else’s will be invaded.

Does this mean treating them differently? Indeed it does, because they tell us the ARE different, and we take them at their word. We know better than to take Gavin at his word that he IS a boy. He can dress like one, talk like one, be addressed in class as one, although I’d tend to use the proper name rather than a pronoun. But he can’t come into either they boys or the girls restroom or locker room, because he is not exactly either one, yet.

I recently read a question about a F2M transgender wondering what to do when he gets his period, because there are no facilities in the boys room for tampons. Which just highlights that boys don’t have periods, so he isn’t exactly a boy yet.

Eamus Catuli has been pleading on this blog for evidence of a threat and no one has provided any.

None is needed. Threat may be an additional concern, because there will always be a scam run on any good thing, or even a bad thing that didn’t have that intention, but the bottom line is simply the right to privacy. Nothing more need be said. Nobody has to prove attempted rape, only that female students generally feel their privacy is being violated by the presence of a penis on someone using the same room. Case closed.

In the interim, you may want to consider that transgenders have been with us all along; they’ve typically used the bathroom of their gender identity; and people either didn’t know about it or care about it.

That’s a questionable axiomatic assertion. Nobody has data, for the very good reason that those who WERE transgender hid it. It is at least plausible, based on the fact that this hasn’t been a public issue before, that trans-genders continued to function, uncomfortably within their given sex for much longer. Its true enough that those who were functioning in a context where they were not previously known, and were good at passing, probably were present, and with good management got away with it. No court rulings or edicts are necessary for this to continue, however rarely. Its like the women throughout history who dressed in men’s clothing and went to war and managed to hide their sex.

But remember the “Get Smart” episode where the gorgeous blonde agent had to go undercover with a men’s baseball team, in the days before female reporters were admitted to locker rooms? She was asked how she kept the team from finding out. “Oh, they found out the first day, but they’d never tell.”

Incidentally, I’ve always thought that ALL reporters should have been barred from the locker rooms. Then, when the players were showered and dressed and calmed down just a little, they could file into a press room where male and female reporters would have equal access.

#33 Comment By Annie On May 22, 2016 @ 10:21 pm

Franklin:

I presume innocent until guilty and believe the guilty deserve our sympathy.

I also presume the way to cure an illness is to not confuse it with health.

I don’t mean that to be snarky; that’s genuinely my belief. I have no problems sharing space with others; I’m as imperfect as the next person at the sink, man or woman. But if we stop being able to call sick sick… I guess, I want help getting better. But if we can’t even deal with a mental illness like this, how can we possibly encourage charity, etc?

Adamant and E. Potson: Adamant put the word “freak” into mouths and accused fictional speakers of engaging in cruel oppression. Pretend all you want that it’s something else than the word “bigot.” What exactly do you think the transgender skeptics are, since you’re suddenly so certain your skepticism is immune to name-calling? You presume I’m pulling a name out of a hat to distract. Do you both go around to pro-transgender advocates and criticize them for using the word “bigot?” Of course you don’t. This has just been a great way for escaping substance. I note neither of you answered the other questions.

#34 Comment By Adamant On May 23, 2016 @ 12:49 am

Annie says:

May 22, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Last response, as a basic rule of discourse is responding to what your interlocutor actually says, not what you would prefer or expect to hear.

” Pretend all you want that it’s something else than the word “bigot.” What exactly do you think the transgender skeptics are, since you’re suddenly so certain your skepticism is immune to name-calling? You presume I’m pulling a name out of a hat to distract.”

Yes, I do presume it, as that’s all you have been going on about for some time, more worried about name calling that, again, for the record, *did not occur, not even once, in this conversation.* To assert that differences of opinion are indistinguishable from name-calling is the end of dialogue. I really don’t know how to help you with this. If your general experience with discussing these matters is to have invective thrown your way, pick a forum where however heated the arguments get, insults are generally not a part of those argument. These comboxes are a rare thing in that regards. I’m sorry you seem to want to travel down that path; I decline to join you.

“Do you both go around to pro-transgender advocates and criticize them for using the word “bigot?”

I’m responsible for no one’s speech but my own. Neither are you. Please see above under basic rules of discourse.

“accused fictional speakers of engaging in cruel oppression.”

‘Fictional’ Good grief, any cursory review of the actual, lived, on the ground day to day of any sexual minority doesn’t meet the standard of cruelty or oppression? My goodness, what a charmed life you seem to have led.

“But if we stop being able to call sick sick”

You may call anyone you want sick. If you like, if it pleases you, if it makes you feel better. But our brothers and sisters of all stripes need a damn sight more than your ‘charity.’ I’ll distrust that impulse, and any mortgaged compassion that comes along with it, and demand simple dignity and respect. Those are harder to fake.

#35 Comment By Darth Thulhu On May 23, 2016 @ 5:51 am

Siarlys Jenkins wrote:

the bottom line is simply the right to privacy. Nothing more need be said. Nobody has to prove attempted rape, only that female students generally feel their privacy is being violated by the presence of a penis on someone using the same room. Case closed

Well said. The case with bathrooms varies by the nature and quantity and quality of the bathroom, but the case with almost all locker rooms and showers is open-and-shut.

If male genitalia and body hair are present, it will be next to impossible to avoid witness of those male genitalia and body hair in most public locker rooms and showers. Consequently, a private locker room and shower area designated for those who wish to avoid the public exposure of male genitalia and body hair have every valid reason to object to the admission of male genitalia and body hair. Loudly.

#36 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 23, 2016 @ 9:56 am

Annie, thank you for a thoughtful response. I’m still in blunt and harsh mode. The following is very much not meant personally.

I don’t know your background, but mine is a relatively (not saying that much) well informed layperson with anecdotal experience with transgender, gender queer and homosexual men and women who’ve opened their hearts to me or in my hearing about their lives, their feelings and their mental states.

The accurate and simple summary of transgendered awareness of self: I was sick, now I’m on the path to healing.

There are plenty of liars, hypochondriacs, and people with criminal intent. I have not met anyone of those categories. My point, the reason for my post, is to demand that anyone engaging in this topical discussion make the rational effort to distinguish between the two groups.

Instead, what I see is the knee-jerk rush to judgment that because some are of the latter nefarious intent, they all must be. That is a clear example of prejudice. Our criminal justice system as it was designed (and from which is increasingly being corrupted away) simply doesn’t become engaged until a person is shown to be of that latter group. Until that moment, anyone who seeks to slander a transgendered person based on fear of the possible is neither rational nor worthy of my respect.

Part of that background is being trained by professionals to act as a front-line resource for the emotionally distressed and potential suicides. I worked a phone for dozens of four-hour shifts. I offer neither details (confidentiality) nor personal opinion about the veracity of their disclosures to me. What I know is that a need was identified and I was a volunteer trying to help fill it. I never got validation that I was doing any good. Indeed, I hit the classic burnout point and never went back to it. But in my heart, I know that there’s at least one person out there who that night we talked, didn’t attempt suicide, and maybe took the next step to get direct, professional care.

I know two transgendered male-to-female women who, right now, are well where they were sick for much of their lives. They walk into a women’s rest room as women, they see people of their gender while in them and not potential heterosexual targets let alone objects of prurient interest.

I do have one opinion. A man masquerading as a woman in order to be a voyeur or worse is not transgendered. Neither is that man sick, except in the mundane, criminal sense. It is criminally false to put those two women in the same category as that man.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 23, 2016 @ 10:53 pm

I think I agree with Franklin, maybe kinda sorta. Franklin has this inconvenient habit of speaking of complex things in all their complexity, and you can never cover it all in a single comment.

If one’s mind and one’s body are incompatible, then by definition there is an illness of sorts. It may well be that the healing process requires a path to resolve that dichotomy by adapting the body to the mind, rather than the mind to the body — although historically that simply wasn’t an available option.

Once someone has resolved the ambiguity, of course they are free to live as the sex they really are. Its the period of healing, if you well, when they are ambiguous, that should not be blindly inflicted on the overwhelming majority not suffering from this illness.

#38 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 24, 2016 @ 9:42 am

Siarlys, your comment about the period of ambiguity is spot on, in my never humble for this topic opinion. Ahem.

I am a servant of Inconvenient Truth. The rest is an occupational hazard for which I still have not found a cure. The inconvenience for which I have zero tolerance is the willful ignorance by so many in our society-at-large who judge them by their appearance and ascribe actual and potential behaviors and actions to them solely on that basis. That completes my circling around to my original point around innocent until proven guilty. We convict each other of crimes all the time. We fail to see that we are wrong all of the time, at least so far as our criminal justice system is concerned.

Vigilante justice is not just what you saw on TV, complete with posses, ropes and a grieving widow who proves the victim’s innocence by the end of the show. It happens in the virtual sense, albeit without the body swinging from the tree limb… except that there are enough dead transgendered people already to show for the completion of that analogy.