Friday, April 15, 2016
Pardon Me, But Is This Seat Taken? A Few Words About Restrooms and Sexual Identity
Well, imagine that you're out in public, perhaps at the mall shopping, and you have to go to restroom. No big deal right? You simply find the nearest appropriate restroom. However, what if you're a transgendered individual---a guy or gal who psychologically considers him or herself the opposite gender and may (and most likely) even dresses the part. What do you do? If you're a transgendered female, someone who considers themselves an ordinary male, they would simply go into the men's restroom and do your business. Odds are they would use a stall; shut the door as any considerate individual would do and no one would be any wiser. Now, what if you're a transgendered male who thinks of themselves as a woman? They would most likely be dressed as a woman, and so naturally they would head to the ladies' restroom---or would they?
I think the issue lies primarily with the women who fear either being accosted by a gender bending male in drag, or worse---a pedophile dressed as a woman entering a ladies' restroom. As most people know, little children---boys and girls---tend to go in the women's restroom with an accompanying female. Sometimes, if they're old enough, they may go alone. Of course, some young boys go to the men's room unaccompanied as well. This could set up the possibility of either child molestation, voyeurism, or worse...perhaps much worse. Of course, most restrooms---men's and women's---have changing tables for infants in them, but that still doesn't lessen the concern for any parent. While the odds of something happening are probably quite low, all it would take is just one instance of something happening to spark a serious backlash. So, the question is what to do, as a parent with children, a woman, or as a transgendered individual?
Well, one possible solution would be to mandate a certain number of single occupant/gender neutral restrooms like you might find in a office or medical building which either gender may use. This would allow anyone regardless of gender or gender preference to use the restroom in privacy. This has proved to be successful over the years and is employed pretty much everywhere. What if this idea was expanded? Perhaps multiple stall restrooms could be employed, such as having a certain percentage of restrooms designated for women, men, and all genders. The obvious downside to this could be that it indirectly discriminates as "Separate by Equal" , which the Supreme Court struck down back in the 1960's as unconstitutional since it would keep them from using the restroom of their gender choice. It could also be argued that by, even unofficially, designating a restroom for anybody, the fact that transgendered individuals are limited to only one restroom, could be viewed as sexual discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, plus I would imagine they could also plead some form of "psychological trauma" by feeling "singled out" and "put on view" by a restroom restriction.
So, what does this all boil down to and is there any solution all side can be happy with? If you look at where most of the new laws or pending legislation are, places like North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Georgia, they are in the deep South, which is traditionally very conservative----politically, socially, and religiously. That's not going change no matter how many transplants move to the South. This then would be make the issue more of a cultural one; one where people's actions are governed more by a defined sense of right and wrong with not a lot of gray in between; you're a male or female. You don't get to choose. Period. They are perfectly willing for the most part to accept national reticule and economic boycotts if they believe what they're doing is right. This mentality has, and will continue to result in butting heads with the federal government. Nothing new there. There is also the nature uneasiness, primarily among women, of knowingly being in the restroom with stranger of the opposite sex. There is the fear of an invasion of privacy, of rape, molestation, voyeurism, and of potential pedophilia. No amount of judicial rulings or legislative decisions will ever change that. It's hardwired into us. In fact, there's an almost automatic revulsion at the mere thought of it, and even among harden criminals, it's considered the lowest of the low.
Federal, state, and local laws already make sexual discrimination illegal, and that includes sexual orientation. There's no getting around that. At the same time, judicial rulings dating from the 1960's have struck down most "separate but equal" laws, though these have usually pertained to matters of race but some enterprising attorney could...and will likely...try to apply the same legal theory to sexual orientation and the use of public restrooms. There is also the fact that the LGBTQ community is large and very politically active, especially in the media and entertainment industries. This can bring a lot of pressure down on not just the states or legislators in question through lobbyists and lawsuits, but by creating a negative public image and promoting some form of economic impact, such as jobs or tourism.
North Carolina governor says he wants bathroom law partially changed....
Corporations push for LGBT legislation in North Carolina
Sex Discrimination, Gender Identity, and Title VII
New Title VII and EEOC Rulings Protect Transgendered Employees
Parents Outraged Over Transgendered Bathroom Law
Florida Law Would Make It A Crime For Transgender People To Use Public Bathrooms
Georgia, North Carolina bills are about LGBT discrimination. Period.