Friday, May 20, 2016

We've been here before

Do women walk around naked in women's restrooms? Are there no doors on the stalls? Do you just sit side by side, chatting with your neighbor?

Indecent exposure is still a crime. Nothing about transgender policy would change that. So what's the problem?

Now, in a men's room, there are urinals. But for some reason, we don't hear about the problem of women standing beside a man at one of those. (Admittedly, I probably wouldn't notice, because I don't look at the people peeing beside me, let alone at their genitals!)

As Trevor Noah points out, we've been here before. We've been here when racists were outraged about the idea of sharing a restroom with a black person. We've been here when homophobes were outraged at the idea of sharing a restroom - or a shower - with a gay person. It's the same thing.

Well, not quite, because transgender people are a tiny fraction of the population. If you're not one of them, chances are good that you will never have a problem or even anything that you could imagine as a problem. Indeed, they've always existed, and we've never had a problem before now. Do you routinely inspect the genitals of every person you share a restroom with?

For transgender people, this is a problem. It's a problem they face every day. But for the rest of us, it's not. For the rest of us, it's just bigotry or acceptance.

PS. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend this video. Transgender rights haven't been on the radar for most of us for very long. Ignorance is understandable, but can - and should - be corrected.


Chimeradave said...

Thanks for posting the non-binary gender thing again. I didn't watch it the first time, but I'm glad I saw it now. I'll be sure and link to it the next time I get into a fight about transgendered rights on Facebook which is unfortunately quite often. But I did have one question the video said that 1 in 400 births are non-binary but does that correlate directly to population, as in if you divide the population of the US by 400 you'd know how many Non-Binary people there are: 797,500.

Bill Garthright said...

I don't know, John. He said, "If we added together all of these exceptions, all of these categories of non-binary sex, as defined by genetics and genitalia, I think it would be something like one in 400 live births."

To me, that sounds like just a rough approximation, based on the estimates of each example he gave. I'd be careful at using that in calculations. :)

To me, the point was that, as he also said, "You may not be aware of how common non-binary sexes are." Well, his figures did surprise me! But it's not as though it's obvious. In some cases, these people would not know, themselves, that there was anything different about them, genetically.

And that's the other thing. This is just about relatively-obvious (with a DNA test) genetic variation. It is just sex, as defined by genetics and genitalia.

It's not gender. If there are genetic differences in LGBT people (and we're all different genetically, so that makes them the same as everyone else), it's not (usually) the same thing.

So it's even more complicated than this video indicates. Even when we're just talking about genetics, our genes are expressed developmentally. People can have perfectly 'normal' sex chromosomes, but develop differently in the womb.

It's not just a matter of having the 'right' genes. Genes are expressed at different times, turned on or off in different sequences. After all, you have the same genetic code in every cell of your body, but those cells develop in very different ways, right?

I'm glad you liked the video, John. So did I. But I think it only scratches the surface. People are a lot more complicated than it might seem at first glance.

I'm no biologist, and certainly not an expert on any of this. But when it comes to transgender rights, I don't think we're usually talking about non-binary sex, but rather about non-binary gender.

I think it's useful to understand how complicated this is, but otherwise, it's mostly a matter of... not any of my business, don't you think? I do not need to know the exact reasons why some people are different than I am. They still deserve civil rights, either way.

Chimeradave said...

Yeah, this definitely only scratches the surface as when we talk about transgendered we are usually talking about gender and not genes.

Yes absolutely, you are preaching to the choir. Everyone deserves the same civil rights.

I get so angry with people that say they "transgendered" just need therapy or "why should we make special laws for them?" So I end up picking a lot of fights. But I'll probably never convince anyone to think differently.

But I'll keep tilting at windmills. :)

Chimeradave said...

I had one person that compared transgendered to apotemnophilia. He said one wants to cut off a limb and one wants to cut off their penis. I felt like I needed a psychology degree!

Bill Garthright said...

Remember, John, we've been here before - and progressed.

There are still plenty of racists in America, but far fewer than there used to be. And most racists today deny being racist, since even they recognize that racism is wrong.

There are still homophobes today, too, but America is far friendlier to gays and lesbians than it used to be. Minds have been changed - and surprisingly rapidly, too.

Some of those people you're talking to will never be convinced. But in most cases, I suspect, it's just ignorance and tradition.

To many people, anything new is suspect. And that means that they resist learning new things, as well. Often, their position is based more on identifying with a particular political or religious group than anything else.

But even those people can change with the times - more slowly, with bitter resistance, but it happens. Not to all of them, of course. But people aren't always as bad as they sound.

Besides, although you're not going to get anywhere with some people, what about all of the bystanders listening to your argument? They probably need education, too. And they won't all be resistant to learning something new, whatever opinions they have now.

We've been here before. Take some encouragement from that.