The Urinal Wars

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.

57 thoughts on “The Urinal Wars

  1. DaveL

    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.

    The problem is the NC law, if anything, exacerbates rather than solves this problem. For one thing, it would now mean that post-operative “trans men”, with full-on beards and surgically reconstructed penises, would be required by law to use the ladies’ room. Natural-born men who want to creep on little girls in the ladies room could just as easily claim to be one of these, and nobody would be able to gainsay them absent a birth certificate or a detailed genital examination.

    1. SHG Post author

      As the cop in the article notes, it’s not like they’re going to inspect people’s genitals for compliance. Unless they’re on the side of the road, of course.

      1. DaveL

        Unless they’re on the side of the road, of course.

        Well, in that case, of course you have to feel for that prostate, just to know it’s the real thing, right? You wouldn’t want to check the wrong box on the arrest report, that could be considered a microaggression.

            1. SHG Post author

              Given that identify can change by the second, it would be rather hard to prove. For example, right now, I identify as a grapefruit, but that is likely to change soon.

    2. Laura Kerl

      The NC law provides an exception for post-surgical trans persons who effectuate the gender change on their birth certificates.

  2. Tim Marugg

    If the women’s rest room has stalls, there should be no reason for a penis to ever be seen by a woman. If a trans “man” tries to use a urinal, that’s likely to be messy, which men’s rooms already are. The long porcelain troughs at certain shooting ranges could be a challenge… but as long as stalls are used, the only conceivable objection is adults flashing their junk deliberately at others. And aren’t there laws about that?

    1. SHG Post author

      The problem with trying to rationalize a law post hoc is that the list of caveats exists only in people’s heads, not the law. If only everybody behaved the way you think they should, the world would be perfect. But then, people just keeping doing stuff that they think is fine but you think is wrong, and screw all these wondrous ideals up. Go figure.

      1. delurking

        Apropos of this, CNN has an article up on the front page about genderfluidity. CNN helpfully educated the public about people whose gender identity varies: “in fact, how one identifies can change every day or even every few hours.”

        I find it hard to believe that the timing of that article, and its front-page headline status just a few days ago, was coincidental. I suspect someone was saying something about what would really happen if the rule were “use the bathroom that matches your gender identity”.

    2. Laura Kerl

      But women do things outside the stalls, like umm, arranging ourselves, that we don’t like to do in front of men. I think the concern among most citified women is not genuine trans women (even if they don’t have the surgery) but a purely subjective definition that allows straight men ladies’ room carte blanche.

  3. Alan Taylor

    Geez. I just want to go pee without getting beat up. The ladies washrooms are all stalls anyway, so who airs out their junk outside the stalls with doors shut? And the fact of transsexuality is real and treatable as based on years of research by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

    1. SHG Post author

      Why would anybody beat you up for peeing? I mean, unless you have aim issues, in which case you really should try harder. How did you survive up to now?

      As for the “fact of transexuality,” that’s a red herring. There is an endless mix of folks who vary from the norm. Whether it’s legit or not is irrelevant (and I accept your premise). Does every person get a world recreated around his, her or its personal preference? Does 0.03% of the population dictate how the other 99.7% are required to function? Because if so, there are plenty of 0.03% identitarian groups around, some of whom will make demands that will impact on others, including trans. Trans may be trendy, but some other group may be trendy ten years from now.

      Men’s rooms have stalls too. Whiz all you want.

    2. Patrick Maupin

      Is it the urinals you’re afraid of, or the men?

      And if it’s the men, why do you get to hide from them while the women don’t get to hide from you?

      And how do you hide when you’re not in a bathroom?

      1. Alan Taylor

        I’m afraid of the men. If I use the mens room while dressed as female, there is some probability of being harassed or beaten because of acting transgender. If I use the ladies room while dressed as female and am recognized as born-male, there is a probability of being harassed by one of the women in the place, and, more serious, having her report to a male companion or mall cop etc. and being harassed or beaten outside the ladies room.

        1. SHG Post author

          That’s a good explanation of one facet of the problem. It doesn’t deal with the many other permutations of the problem. Question: Is your need more important than other people’s needs? Why is accommodating your desire to cross dress without fear worth the loss of privacy to others? Or to be blunt, why should the multitude of women suffer the loss of privacy for the few who choose to cross dress?

          That you would “like to” is perfectly understandable. But you’re “like” comes at the expense of someone else’s “like.” Why should yours win?

          1. Alan Taylor

            In speaking only of using the ladies room (not change rooms, etc.) I don’t see that my use involves any loss of privacy for others when there are cubicles with doors. Therefore my use is harmless.

            1. SHG Post author

              So you discount other people’s concerns as harmless? That’s a bit convenient, aside from ignoring a law that isn’t (and can’t be) conditioned upon the physical details of every restroom. But putting the cubicle doors aside, you ask other to see it from your perspective, but are you willing to see it from theirs?

            2. Alan Taylor

              When I say “… therefore harmless …” I mean I have not violated privacy by seeing other people only when fully clothed in a washroom. I understand the fear some ladies may have, but I think their fear is ill-founded. There are no reported attacks by men-dressed-as-women on ladies in ladies rooms, while there are very many attacks on trans-women, including an alarming number of fatalities.

              [Ed. Note: Links deleted per rules.]

            3. SHG Post author

              So your argument is that you don’t value their concerns as much as you want them to value your desire to cross dress. You’re entitled to think their fear is ill-founded. And they’re entitled to disagree with you and believe their concerns are valid. That trans-women get attacked, including fatally, isn’t in issue, but it also doesn’t answer the larger question. Self-interest that dismisses all contrary concerns rarely serves as persuasive argument.

            4. Alan Taylor

              I don’t understand your point (if there is one). you say: “… doesn’t answer the larger question. Self-interest that dismisses all contrary concerns rarely serves as persuasive argument.” Please, what is the “larger question”? If the larger question is a balance of fears and desires then I guess this cannot be solved except by majority rules, which is another way of saying mob rule. I don’t dismiss the fears, I tried to say the fears are mistaken, or based on misinformation.

            5. SHG Post author

              I’ve been pretty kind to you up to now, even recognizing that you’re a dim-witted narcissist. But now you’ve added asshole to the list, so I’m done with you. Sorry that you can’t figure out there’s a “larger picture” that isn’t all about you and you’re particular issues, and the multitude of permutations of the scenario that has nothing to do with your cross-dressing problems, but you blew your chance to get an explanation when you decided to go asshole.

              Maybe the reason people don’t treat you as well as you think you should be treated has nothing to do with your being a cross-dresser, but because you’re a stupid, narcissistic asshole. You might not be able to help the fact that you’re a moron and a narcissist, but you surely don’t have to be an asshole. Bye.

            6. Alan Taylor

              I’m sorry you have chosen name-calling. If you can’t define the “larger issue” then it is hard for any debate. I can *guess* the larger issue is fear of trans persons for a reason or reasons you have not stated. If that is the larger issue, I think it is not wrong of me to say those fears are not well-founded, and if you have reasonable counter-arguments I would like to know them. Ad hominem attacks don’t help understanding.

            7. SHG Post author

              I’m going to give this one more shot, with a few caveats so we understand one another. First, this isn’t a debate. I write the posts. You get to comment. I reply if I think it’s worth my time. Second, that was not an ad hominem (note in the commenting rules, “Anyone using the phrase “ad hominem” incorrectly will be ridiculed.” You used it incorrectly. Google it.

              As to my point about the “larger issue” [that would be the (if there is one) point], neither this issue nor this law is limited to you, cross-dressers, restrooms, gays, trans, ill-founded fears (at least based on your self-appointed Rule of the Universe of Other People’s Concerns). Restrooms, locker rooms (I know, you agree locker rooms are different, but the law doesn’t give a damn what you agree with), showers, etc. come in all configurations, types and styles. They aren’t just your imaginary perfect room. Women and children have all manner of feelings, whether you think they’re important or not, that they want anatomical males, whether gay, trans or faking it, or sick pervs, or any other variation, out of their private sphere. There will be people who use other gender rooms for any number of reasons, and no one will be able to stop them, because self-identifying is a worthless metric.

              Think of every other person, besides cross-dressers, who might take advantage of this. Think of the people who would abuse this. There are hundreds of times as many people whose interests, fears, concerns, and just plain right to be left alone in the fucking bathroom, with whom you interfere, and you don’t give a shit about any of them except you. All of this, including cross-dressing, is affected. Just your typical guy in regular guy clothes strolling into the women’s room, because he says so. That’s the larger picture. It’s also obvious. How you are so narcissistic that you needed someone to explain this to you is pathetic.

            8. Alan Taylor

              Thank you for reconsidering and for a detailed reply. I now better understand (although don’t agree with) your logic and reasoning, and I see a reasoned position.

              Thank you too for the suggestion to look up “ad …”. I was not aware of the distinction between attacking a person’s arguments by attacking their character or motive (which is wrong) and attacking a person’s arguments by attacking their biases and discussing facts about a person (which can be legitimate).

            9. SHG Post author

              You’re welcome. And in all sincerity, I wish you (and everyone else) a world where you can dress any damn way you please without fear or harm.

  4. LTMG

    20 years ago I worked in Denmark for several months. Rest rooms were genderless. There was a common area with several sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers. There were no urinals. On the wall opposite the sinks were a row of cubicles with barriers reaching from floor to ceiling. These were also genderless. One could choose to use whichever unoccupied cubicle one wanted. Seemed to work fine. All very professional, polite, private, and civilized.

      1. LTMG

        Change rest room design, and the issue either disappears or some new issue arises. Again, identify probable root causes, make an irreversible change, and the previous undesired circumstance either disappears or is reduced.

        1. SHG Post author

          Well sure, let’s place the financial and physical burden of redesigning every rest room in existence on every place of business, just in case American attitudes aren’t Danish enough. Perfect solution. And still not the point of the post.

          1. Patrick Maupin

            The libertarian/anarchist “fix” for one of the root causes of the problem is to defund the government. Which is at least superficially attractive because any required ongoing maintenance and vigilance would at least superficially be for a completely different set of problems than the ones we have now.

  5. mb

    I’m just glad that my store’s restrooms only have one toilet each, and of course that where I live we have marauding gangs of heterosexual people who go around bullying gay people and checking all the bathrooms for transsexuals. If a lady came to me and asked that I expel a man from the ladies’ room, I’d at least have an option that wouldn’t get me fired, fined or sued.

  6. Jim Tyre

    Does 0.03% of the population dictate how the other 99.7% are required to function?

    Ah, the New Math.

  7. Patrick Maupin

    I’m surprised the FBI hasn’t weighed in here. Safety is much more important than privacy, so if we’re worried about bad things going on in restrooms, we should construct all the walls out of plexiglass.

    1. Donald Gennaro

      Don’t forget the security cameras. And in government buildings that footage belongs to the public.

  8. Weebs

    In what way does use of a rest room deny a person of participation in, or the benefits of, an education program? What are they learning in those rest rooms?

    A large percentage of my knowledge of limericks was learned in bathroom stalls.

    So there’s that.

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  10. Ariadne

    I hear “Geez,” (literally, “Geez”) transgender people “just want to pee,” and protestations that nobody will ever see anybody’s genitalia unless they are just LOOKING for trouble. This language shames women from asking further questions lest they seem like transphobes. But then if you ask transactivists and their allies further if they think transwomen, who are just as likely to be attracted to women as not, and most of whom have penises, should be in locker rooms and shower with women and girls, the indignant answer is, “OF COURSE, women’s penises belong in showers! And if you don’t like it, don’t look, you transphobe!” This seems at very least beside the point and just plain wrong, especially without it being discussed openly. I am not sure that having to be fearful of ever expressing any discomfort when confronted with anybody’s penis in the intimate space of a bathroom is what America’s women have signed up for, and transwomen, with their deep needs for validation of validation as females as expressed in their high suicide rates, may not find the kind of willing acceptance they seek from other women if they force this level of physical intimacy under these coercive circumstances.

    1. SHG Post author

      While some will complain about anything, I suspect this bathroom issue will be far more of a problem for women than men. Most men couldn’t care less who’s in the bathroom, and don’t find the possibility of an odd vagina in there terribly problematic. This will prove far more disconcerting for women, who want their privacy.

      So, it’s an interesting problem in that it pits the feelings of two groups for whom special sensitivity is supposed to be due against each other. One will end up sacrificing their interests to the other, and the question is whether it will be the far larger or far smaller group who suffers for the sake of correctness.

    2. Alan Taylor

      I am transgender (male-to-female) and would like to use the ladies room when dressed and presenting as female. I would like to separate the washroom issue from the locker/change room/showers issue.

      However I agree change rooms and particularly gang or group showers are a problem that I don’t have an answer for. I haven’t personal experience but I have been told that group showers are more common in male areas and cubicle-type showers in ladies areas. Maybe going forward cubicle-type showers should be used in new facilities. This still doesn’t fix the change-area problem.

  11. TheHaywardFault

    I’d like to leave a more [detailed] thought here, but I’m concerned my [lack of legal knowledge] would get my comment [roundfiled] so I’m just going to [make some general observations] and hope for the best.

    I [approve] [generally-if-not-of-the-specifics] of Charlotte’s law and [disapprove] [generally-and-specifically] of the state legislature of North Carolina making it irrelevant (I am friends with a [transwoman] who lives in North Carolina and will be affected by this law). Therefore, the following points:

    I’m disappointed in humanity in general that Charlotte felt the need to make a law intended to protect transpeople from discrimination. I’m concerned the state’s legislature [had malice aforethought] when they convened a special session to tackle only this legislation. I’m [annoyed] that the federal government is [threatening to go clubbing people] with Title IX. Lastly, why [the everloving heckaroonie] do [conservatives] advocate for [smaller government] and then [pass pre-emption laws, a big government tactic]? [Left-leaning loonies like myself] are well known for their [advocacy of federal government intervention], but it seems to me that [preservatives] are [sticky-fingered hypocrites] in this regard.

    (In accordance with the Mad Libs law of internet commentating, I have bracketed key words and phrases in the above comment. I invite other commenters to replace all bracketed phrases with words appropriate to the reader’s preference.)

    1. SHG Post author

      By making your Mad Libs all about you, you make it largely pointless, as no one cares what you feel, but they might care why you feel that way if you didn’t frame everything as all about you. But you somehow managed to get a little “why” in there.

      Your point about NC’s rush to pass a law is a good point. Knee jerk reaction laws are almost invariably poorly conceived and create bad unintended consequences, and this NC law is likely to do so as well. As for small govt conservatives being hypocrites, you also make a good point, though hypocrisy is the hallmark of American politics, so hardly a novel point.

  12. Will Kane

    One issue I haven’t seen addressed:
    Who determines who qualifies as “transgender”?
    Doesn’t this allow any man at any point to use any women’s room?
    Can a normal guy wearing khakis and a polo shirt just walk into any women’s room? If someone complains, just say you are transgender and you’re offended that people are judging you by your choice of outfit.

    1. SHG Post author

      Pretty much. The cops don’t plan to sit outside bathrooms checking equipment and their bona fides.

  13. John Rew

    With all due respect I think you have missed the bullseye with this one. The argument about men and little girls is an emotional one blown out of proportion few men will feel comfortable using women’s toilets not so for women and men’s toilets. The reality is that it is men’s rooms that are under attack. Many places now have women’s restrooms and unisex restrooms but no men’s rooms. The idea that men don’t need privacy in regard to the opposite sex is absolutely wrong. It is men who will be put at risk as they will have nowhere to relieve themselves that does not carry a significant risk of an allegation of sexual impropriety. Women are far more comfortable with having certain areas on show as is demonstrated by fashion. Most men are quite quite modest it’s just that the showing of male genitalia is considered far more offensive than female genitalia. In Queensland Australia this was evident when they decided to clean up the nudity on non designated beaches. Only males were charged with public indecency apparently because females had nothing hanging down. Yes that was the excuse. Anyone who thinks this is going to be allowed to impact on females in any way shape or form is barking up the wrong tree. As for urinals not going anywhere you may be right but I would like to point to Europe were there have been serious discussions regarding making urinating standing up an offence.

  14. Pingback: The Transgender Question On The Table | Simple Justice

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