As a former trial lawyer, I have been fascinated about the national uproar caused by the regulation of use of public bathrooms. As I see it, the real problem is not an objection to transgenders, but the fear that someone masquerading as a woman can put on a dress and abuse or traumatize people in a woman’s bathroom. I have not heard of anyone going into a male restroom and causing problems with men and children. First, we have to understand that the term “transgender” is used generically for anyone that identifies with the opposite sex. Therein may be where the problem is. This includes cross-dressers, non-biological transgenders (pre-surgery) and biological transgenders (post-surgery). Parents who fear for their children’s safety are strongly opposed to men/women putting on a dress/pants and using the opposite gender room and have persuaded their state legislature to pass laws prohibiting transgenders from using the restroom assigned to their desired gender. Again, “desired gender” is ambiguous.
The Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week (G.G. vs. Goucester School Board, http://media2.newsobserver.com/content/media/2016/4/19/gavingrimm.pdf) that a Virginia School Board policy requiring transgenders (remember the broad definition) to use the school bathroom assigned to the gender on their birth certificate is discriminatory and must be repealed. This ruling will apply in the five states assigned to the Fourth Circuit, i.e. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland. This is especially significant since North Carolina and other states has recently passed legislation that attempts to regulate public bathroom use by transgenders by requiring transgenders to use public restrooms assigned to their biological gender (known as HB2). Many business leaders and public figures have denounced the legislation and cancelled concerts scheduled to be playing in North Carolina. The NBA has announced that the 2017 all-star game scheduled to be played in North Carolina will be transferred to a city outside of North Carolina if HB2 is not repealed.
Now that the federal courts have rejected this type of discrimination in schools, it will be interesting to see what the legislatures do to respond. There have been a few highly publicized incidents where males pretending to be women went into female bathrooms and filmed women using the bathroom (Pomare in Los Angeles, Burnes in Atlanta and Buehler in Everett, Wash.). They weren’t claiming to be transgenders, but the question now is raised whether they could have claimed transgender status to avoid being labeled indecent. One of the issues that legislatures may or may not have considered is the confusion caused by the term “transgender”. Transgender can refer to anyone who does not want to be considered by their birth sex. The Plaintiff in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was physically a female although she had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (emotional distress caused by rejection of birth sex).
Therefore, a transgender can be anyone from a cross-dresser to surgical genital alteration. While surgically altered sexes can argue that they are, in fact, the target sex, that argument is hard to make simply because someone changes clothes.
I had an uncle who was homosexual and liked to “dress up”. I thought it was weird but that was his choice, not for me. It is interesting to note that the student body in the “G.G.” case did not object to his/her use of the boy’s restroom, but it was the parents and members of the public who objected. Perhaps we should take the lead of the student body and let people piss where they want. It was the parents who had the problem, not the students who would have to use the bathroom with “G.G.”. Homophobia now has invaded public restrooms. A simple solution would be to remove urinals and install stalls in all public restrooms so no-one could know what anyone was up to. It is a tempest in a teapot.
This is hardly the behavior of a civilized society. There are shared bathrooms everywhere in the world. I can remember being in McSorley’s, the oldest Irish bar in the US, after the SCOTUS (Supreme Court) ruled that they had to serve women. There was only one bathroom and everyone used it at the same time. Perhaps the fine ales they served there eliminated any objection to shared use. We simply have too many other issues in this country to be debating other than whether we stand up or sit down to pee. It is bad enough when legislatures regulate the bedroom, but a line must be drawn to leave our bathrooms free.
Feminism is a term that became popular after World War II when women started to stand up for the proposition that they were equal to men in all respects. At the time, men reacted quite violently to the proposition that women had a place in the workplace, government, the professions and the arts. However, women had enjoyed an increased sense of importance during World War II as they assumed roles all across society that had been held by men. When men returned from the war, they found that women had taken their roles, and men assumed that women would meekly return to their supportive roles.
The concept of feminism suggested the end of patriarchy, and a return to the Divine Feminine. The Divine Feminine is a concept recently adopted by the New Age movement, but actually finding its roots in France based on the legend that Mary Magdalene left Palestine after Jesus ascended and started churches in Southern France. The etymology of the word feminism comes from a French word “feminisme” allegedly created by a French philosopher in early 1800’s. The concepts of feminism were founded much earlier, based upon the legends of the Amazons and Valkyries of Europe and the religion of the “Black Madonna” in southern France.
Feminism is not a simple concept in modern times. Terms like “White Feminist”, “womanist”, “Intersectional Feminist”, “sex positive”, and “TERF” make the concept of female equality quite muddy. How one views slave trafficking, pornography, and abortion makes debate quite passionate and divided. However, regardless of the politics or issue specific debates, feminism is a concept whose time has come.
First of all, feminism must champion the ideal of compassion and understanding. In other words, we have to start listening to each other, rather than be stuck in the old rhetoric that men’s opinions are greater than women’s. Women have to insist from their male counterparts that they must listen to what women have to say.
Men have a tragic history of teaching youth that the male point of view has more merit than any other and that must stop. The whole concept of the Divine Feminine rests upon the ideals of compromise and cooperation. For women to meekly do whatever they are told is not appropriate any longer. We have to start building consensus across sexual barriers. We have to start teaching our youth that we live in a world that has reached the brink of destruction because we have ignored our Divine Mother and desecrated her temple, the Earth.
Second, feminism must embrace the notion that all people are equal, not only on a sexual basis but also racial, cultural and religion. Feminism must especially embrace the equality of religion or we will continue to destroy ourselves in religious crusades to wipe out all competitors for God. For God’s sake, we can no longer kill each other in the name of God. All of the energy that is now being expended on the debate of where people are supposed to pee is avoiding the more important issues of violence and prejudice.
This also brings into play the debate of women in the military. We have totally missed the issue. It is not about getting women into the military, it is about eliminating the need for the military for any reason. Putting women in the military only brings women down to the level of the Neanderthals that think violence is a solution to anything. Women have to create a consensus of peace because men are incapable of doing it by themselves.
Third, more women have to start voting. There are more women than men in this world. So there is no excuse for men to win any political agenda. The women who have led their countries since World War II have done as well or better than male counterparts. I am referring to Indira Gandhi (India), Mary Robinson (Ireland), Margaret Thatcher (England), Golda Meir (Israel) and others. It is time for women to start lobbying in earnest to be the leaders of religious movements as well. It is time for a female Pope, Dalai Lama, and other religious leaders. Men have to be convinced of the wisdom of balancing the power of the sexes.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have to accept that pornography, prostitution and slave trading is all about male dominance over women. Feminism must stand up and stop this, perhaps before we tackle anything else. The concept that women will sacrifice their bodies to make money is as old as history. The temple virgins of ancient Greece and Rome weren’t virgins at all; they were religious prostitutes.
Being a former lawyer, I recognize the impossibility of regulating morality, but this is a fight worth fighting. We have to empower women to stop selling themselves if we hope to create equality; if we are to survive.
Feminism must enable everyone to speak for justice and equality. The time for patriarchy is over. (824 words)
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