Another day, another opportunity for the party of “small government” to sell us a larger government.
This time, they want to imbue the Federal government with the power to govern which bathrooms we can and cannot use. If this sounds eerily similar to another troubled era in American history, you’re not wrong.
We’re talking, of course, about the transgender bathroom hysteria that’s now sweeping the nation. In case you still need the full scoop, here it is:
Since last year, district courts and general assemblies have been attempting to force transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to what’s listed on their birth certificates, rather than the bathroom that corresponds to the gender they identify with.
These so-called “bathroom bills” actively marginalize the transgender community and send a very clear message: Your feelings — your perceptions of self — don’t matter. You are what bureaucracy says you are, end of discussion.
If this “controversy” appears to have come out of nowhere, you’d be right. Paranoia is now sweeping the nation, and otherwise reasonable adults are shaking with fear over the possibility of sharing a bathroom with somebody whose body doesn’t look precisely like their own.
In other words: Conservative Republicans and Christians remain hell-bent on solidifying their monopoly on American-brand® cruelty.
Buckle up, folks — it’s going to be a messed-up ride.
A Manufactured Controversy
It’s extremely likely that you’ve shared a bathroom with a transgendered individual on more than one occasion and never known it. Transgender people have been using public bathrooms for as long as transgender people and public bathrooms have existed. This is a fact, and it hasn’t really caused anybody significant mental or existential anguish until this particular watershed moment.
Just as a woman’s Right To Choose was settled law for, like, thirty years before the GOP dragged it into the limelight and turned it into a poisonous wedge issue in American politics, we’re now seeing the same thing happen with a person’s right to identify as one gender or another — and to use the appropriate public facilities.
Why do we need to award minorities basic freedoms one at a time? Haven’t we been through this all before with African Americans and water fountains? I thought Jim Crow was behind us, but now we’re facing the very real possibility that bathroom bills will sweep across the country.
It’s the civil rights movement in reverse, and it’s extremely un-American.
What Are You Scared Of, Exactly?
In trying to sell this controversy to the American people, the most viciously passionate proponents of segregated bathrooms regularly haul out the most horrifying and deranged — not to mention wholly fictitious — “dangers” to prove their point.
In this case, they say, the danger lies in transgender men sitting down to take care of business in the stall next to the one a woman is occupying. They claim that this is a perfect recipe for rapes and sexual assaults, despite the fact that this has been reported virtually zero times, as far as anyone can tell.
Is critical thinking dead and buried? If a man (transgender or otherwise) wanted to commit a rape, there are about ten thousand tried-and-true methods for him to get the job done, and absolutely none of them have anything to do with staking out public restrooms for easy prey. And more to the point, if a person is so far gone that they’re capable of committing a rape in the first place, what’s stopping them from slouching into a women-only restroom to do it?
The answer is: Absolutely nothing.
It’s Not About Bathrooms
It wasn’t about bathrooms, school houses and water fountains in the mid-1900s, and it’s not about bathrooms today. It’s about segregating the worthy from the unworthy. And so long as we allow a person’s so-called “religious freedom” to determine who is and is not worthy, this issue isn’t going to go away any time soon.
In fact, it appears to be only getting worse.
Civil Rights is not a difficult concept. It’s a grown-up wrapper on a lesson most of us learned in Kindergarten: Don’t do anything to another person that you wouldn’t want done to you.
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