Let me begin by telling you a tale of two potties.
Our first tale involves an individual, who at first glance (and second, third and fourth) is a woman. She enters the ladies room, selects her stall and takes care of her personal matters. Exiting the cubicle, she stops to wash her hands, pauses to look in the mirror, adjusts her hair and make-up and leaves the washroom. In this scenario the woman was born male and has undergone the prescribed steps to live out the rest of her life as a woman!
In the second scenario we encounter an individual who has passably disguised his gender. He scurries into the ladies room and positions himself in the best stall to stalk his prey. Lying in wait his frustrations build as he imagines what will come next. Finally a woman is in the stall adjacent to his. He has devised a method where he can observe her in the assumed privacy of the cubicle. He invades her safe space. If you thought scenarios like this only played out in cop shows like ‘Law & Order: SVU’ think again. Not too long ago a very dear colleague of mine entered the ladies room in our office building. She was changing her clothes in one of the cubicles, getting ready to join her run club, when the sound of raspy breathing caught her attention. Looking around to see where the sound was coming from she saw a man leering over the top rim of the divider. Fortunately, in this case, the invasion ended there. Having been caught, this person scuttled out of the washroom. Needless to say my dear friend was left shaken; the sense of violation that stems from an experience like that can leave a mark on a person’s sense of well-being for some time!
Clearly these are two fundamentally different stories…
In the ongoing Bathroom Wars that are mounting across the US and Canada everybody is losing the battle. Let me be perfectly, and abundantly clear; I take no issue whatsoever with the first scenario. I cannot begin to imagine the psychological battle a person must have endured where the dramatic steps of gender reassignment are the ultimate solution. This involves a lifetime regime of hormone treatments and multiple surgeries. The fact is the struggle is real for many people. I know there are still a great many of you who wrestle to understand ‘the Transgender Issue’. This is something that for whatever reason makes you feel terribly uncomfortable. You DO have a right to your feelings! But I implore you try to walk in another person’s brogues or stilettos for a mile before you judge them.
However, the ‘all or nothing’ approach being taken by both sides of this war will have mass casualties. In the end no one wins with that strategy! Right now the discussion on this topic is so deeply entrenched in emotion everybody is missing the point. Basic common sense tells me that in a space where a person is at their most vulnerable, laws to protect them from predators and perverts are essential. Basic common sense ALSO tells me that a person living their lives as a man or a woman ought to use the correlating restroom!
What I do find so preposterous in the overall tone of the current debate is that those arguing so fervently for the banishment bathroom guidelines altogether are typically the same ones crying out for ‘safe-spaces’. Should a public bathroom not be the ultimate sacred safe space; second to one’s own home? One preventable assault is too many. Creating regulated public restrooms, locker rooms, and change rooms gives our society the tools needed to convict those with malicious intent. Do I think just declaring oneself male or female is enough to pass muster on this issue? Absolutely not!
We need a law to reflect this clear need!
Barely a century ago the technology and medical advancements which allow for physical gender reassignment didn’t exist. As with intellectual property and Internet regulations we arrive at another point in recent history where the rapid evolution of society and technology has outpaced the law. It’s a scary place to be. Suddenly law makers are being pressured to act and react based on simmering protests from both sides. I know from personal experience the appeasement game never works where common sense should prevail. I have stared down protestors who have demanded ‘their way or the highway’.
Folks, the very foundation of a decent and civilized society is based on discourse and an attempt at mutual understanding.
I have a distant cousin who has recently undergone gender reassignment to live her life as a woman. As she is now, her presence in the mens’ room would cause a far greater uproar than the ladies’ room. I also know that no-one should have to experience what my co-worker did in our washroom so many years ago. Frankly that scenario could easily have escalated into something far, far worse! I thank God it didn’t!
There is a middle ground here, but it does not involve a free-for-all where every law goes out the window.
Actor James Woods is right, in a world where thousands of innocent people are being terrorized and tortured to death, this issue is taking up far too much bandwidth in the halls of power. I know those of you who truly do value the virtues of freedom, dignity and mutual respect long to find a reasonable solution here; one where everyone comes prepared to give an inch or two but where civilization gains a mile. To those of you who just can’t see beyond your own perspective; you are part of the problem and you really need to go check yourself!