Over the past couple of days, there has been an outcry on social media about Target opening it’s bathrooms so that transgendered people can use whichever one corresponds to their particular gender identity. Now, I’m not going to bother getting into a long diatribe about the whole transgender issue, since there are certainly some people with legitimate genetic (intersex) disorders, some who have medical issues regarding hormones and brain development, and others who might just be confused or disturbed. Who knows? However, I also think that my opinion on the matter is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.
First, let’s talk numbers. Based on the statistics I could find, transgendered people only make up about 0.3% of the population. This is an incredibly small figure, and I’m sure many of us find it irritating that the other 99.7% of Americans are suddenly so concerned about offending and/or accommodating this infinitesimally small percentage of the populace. I mean, is this really a pressing issue? The reality is that it’s just another battle in the ongoing “Culture Wars,” and because of that, it’s going to get a lot of media attention from celebrities, politicians, etc., whether or not it’s warranted.
The big argument right now is that sexual predators could supposedly use these new bathroom rules to attack and/or molest women. Well, yesterday my wife posted a picture on Facebook that I think perfectly illustrates the silliness of this issue. The image is captioned with the definition of “Irony,” and there is a “No Firearms Allowed” sign next to another sign that says, “Attention Gentlemen: This is a Women’s Restroom.” You see, we conservatives frequently argue that so-called “gun-free zones” are pointless and unsafe because criminals will just ignore the law anyway. Well then, shouldn’t we make the same argument when it comes to bathroom signs? A sexual predator is going to break the law and be a degenerate creep regardless of what some sign says — that’s kinda what makes them criminals. Plus, remember that sexual predators don’t always prey on the opposite gender. A young boy (like my own son) is in just as much danger in a “biological males only” public restroom as anyone else. That actually may be a decent argument for more “gender neutral” (or family) bathrooms, since my wife can’t go into the men’s room with our six-year-old, and she certainly can’t bring him with her anymore.
So why else do I say this is a non-issue? Well, let’s think about it for a second. A few years ago, before anyone said a single word about “gender neutral” bathrooms or whatever, what do you think was happening? If a transgendered man (dressed as a woman, of course) was walking through Target (or Wal-Mart, or Kroger, etc.) , that person would probably just use the women’s bathroom and no one would have thought twice about it. You might have thought it was a kinda manly-looking woman, or you might not have noticed at all, especially since some of those people are disturbingly convincing. But really, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem unless the guy, say, pulled out his penis and started waiving it around at people, but that would have been considered indecent exposure regardless of which bathroom the person had entered. Heck, how would anyone know it wasn’t just a masculine woman anyway? Would there be a security guard outside checking genitals? Obviously not. Any real enforcement would be impossible.
Of course, if that same transgendered man (again, dressed as a woman) had walked into the men’s bathroom, that almost certainly would have caused an uproar of some kind, whether it be other patrons simply laughing, complaining to staff, calling the police, or even assaulting the stranger.
In other words, transgendered people have probably been using the bathrooms of their choice for decades now, and more than likely, no one has really noticed. The only reason it’s become an issue now is that people are making it an issue. If you ask me, both sides of the argument are pretty ridiculous. One one side, you have social conservatives screaming that the sky is falling and trying to scare the hell out of everyone, and on the other side, you have social liberals (and businesses like Target) continually trying to prove just how inclusive and open-minded they are to the point of abject absurdity.
Now just to be clear, I do think there is an issue when it comes to kids using school locker rooms. This is a big difference, in my opinion. When it comes to public bathrooms in places like Target, no one is being designated or classified. People just walk around and use the bathroom and move on without any kind of supervision or regulation. There is no specified place or time when people are required to be there together. It’s just come-and-go, and as I said above, there’s really no way to police that. But in a school setting, when the administration knows for a fact that the transgendered student in question is a biological male, that student should not be intentionally placed in a girls’ PE class using the girls’ locker room, as in this story from Illinois. I believe that infringes on the rights of those biological girls who are being actively forced to shower, change clothes, etc. with a biological male. Can you see the difference? One scenario is active and enforceable, and the other scenario is passive and unenforceable.
Now I admit that I don’t have the answer to the school issue, because a transgendered teenage boy would almost certainly face some sort of abuse or harassment if he was designated to the boys’ locker room, so the student would likely have to be placed somewhere on his own to shower and change. But like I said, is this really a pressing, hot-button problem? Is that tiny 0.3% of the population really in need of some collective, national action and 24-hour media coverage? I kinda doubt it. Regardless, that’s not the issue we’re talking about right now. When it comes to Target and public bathrooms, if you stop and think about it for a few minutes, the whole thing really does seem pretty stupid.