If anyone proposed the notion that a man should be entitled to use the ladies’ restroom ten years ago, it would have evoked outrage. Should girls be exposed to such a thing? Shouldn’t women be allowed the sanctity of doing what they do in privacy? But that was a different time, when we were concerned about things like children and women’s privacy. My, how times change.
Officials in Charlotte, N.C., spent more than a year carefully considering and debating an antidiscrimination ordinance that was passed in February to promote the city’s culture of inclusiveness. State lawmakers quashed it on Wednesday by passing an appalling, unconstitutional bill that bars transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity and prohibits cities from passing antidiscrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people.
A culture of inclusiveness is a curious phrase. One person’s inclusiveness is another’s exclusiveness. Charlotte decided that the proper thing to do was to make their restrooms amenable to transgender people, which is certainly a fair choice to make if it’s decided that the interests of transgender people take precedence over any other concerns.
Then again, it isn’t always easy to figure out what that means. It’s not about people who have surgically altered their anatomy to suit their gender identity. Rather, it’s all about gender identity. Where there were once two genders, there are now many. Or so those whose gender identities are in flux inform us. Woe to the binary believers, who think it’s just about male or female. And sure, there are people born with problematic genitalia, though that’s a red herring in this discussion as that has nothing to do with the point of Charlotte’s law.
But the State of North Carolina wasn’t about to let Charlotte bow to 0.03% of people who are transgender, as Charlotte’s culture of inclusivity wasn’t as meaningful as North Carolina’s culture of protecting little girls from men in their bathrooms and women’s privacy.
The New York Times, in its breathless editorial, calls North Carolina’s reaction “appalling” and “unconstitutional.” Whether it’s appalling is based on which side of the gender divide one falls. One person’s “antidiscrimination” law is another’s discrimination law. One person’s “barring” gays and transgenders, or at least people who claim to be, is another’s barring women’s and girls’ privacy. Who suffers discrimination depends on one’s priorities. Someone is going to be discriminated against, and the only question is who do you care less about.
But whether it’s unconstitutional is an entirely different matter, and the Times offers no argument to support it’s claim. If the position is based on an equal protection claim, it’s shaky. One could claim that any restroom that is limited to a gender denies the other(s) equal protection. After all, separate but equal doesn’t cut it. Yet, historic precedent and physical reality are hard to overcome.
But the Times doesn’t stop at calling the North Carolina law unconstitutional.
Federal agencies are considering steps they might be required to take because of the discriminatory law. For example, the Department of Education, which gives North Carolina more than $4 billion annually, may withhold some funding because the law violates Title IX, a civil rights law. The federal government has taken the position in individual cases that barring students from using restrooms based on their gender identity is a violation of their right to equal treatment. The Department of Education has drafted guidance for schools that would give administrators a clear national standard. That document should be released publicly now.
Regardless of what one thinks of Charlotte’s law, this is a far more disturbing prospect, that the DoE would use $4 billion to coerce North Carolina to bend to its will. Title IX provides:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
In what way does use of a restroom deny a person participation in, or the benefits of, an education program? What are they learning in those restrooms? But the DoE Office of Civil Rights has been on a mission
creep dash to force its Utopian view of social justice down the nation’s throat for some time now. Untethered from either its binary gender mandate, or its educational participation and benefit limitations, it’s now going to hold federal education monies hostage to the culture war? If this happens, there is no limit to what DoE OCR can demand of state and local jurisdictions.
Despite what supporters of these laws might claim, the measures do nothing to make restrooms safer. They will only further stigmatize and endanger people who already face systemic discrimination. If lawmakers who might want to follow North Carolina’s abhorrent example aren’t moved by appeals to equality and human rights, they should ponder this reality: The price of bigotry is becoming quite steep.
The New York Times has its agenda, and it’s not shy in making that clear. Lest you think it’s just readers, it demands no less from people in its employ. And it is shameless in its attack on anyone who doesn’t share its concept of “equality and human rights,” meaning that people of non-marginalized genitalia and gender identity are “abhorrent” if they don’t accept the imposition of a guy’s penis in your 6-year-old little girl’s face as a matter of law. Remember, there may be stalls in women’s rooms, but there are urinals in men’s rooms. They aren’t going to disappear.
But when the “price of bigotry” is $4 billion because the DoE enjoys the Times’ unprincipled applause of education money being used to coerce its sensibilities, the cost of equality is too high. If legislative bodies share this sensibility, and determine in the performance of their function that opening restrooms to whomever wishes to enter, then that’s one thing. If people disagree with their lawmakers, they have a way to address their dissatisfaction.
Using funds provided by Congress for education to extort social engineering bearing no connection to education, however, is utterly unacceptable, even if it achieves something the Times editorial board prefers. And lest the Times not grasp the problem, the next boss-lady of the DoE Office of Civil Rights may not be Catherine Lhamon, and may decide to use that loot to coerce goals with which the Times doesn’t agree. If fiscal abuse is good now, it will be no worse then.