Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things That Make You Wonder Why

There's absolutely nothing surprising about this story of a conservative effort to overturn perfectly reasonable and — from any reasonable point of view — inoffensive provision of Gainesville, Florida's, antidiscrimination ordinance (h/t HuffPo). The fact that there's nothing surprising about it is what makes it so damn depressing.

Being reminded that the world is full of people who would rather punish difference than understand it or have compassion for it is one of those thing that always shocks me, even though it no longer ever surprises me. I'm broadly hopeful about the future these days, but it makes me sad to be reminded that there are still so many of my neighbors who are so unneighborly.

Just what's so terrible about allowing public restroom choice for transgendered citizens? Well, apparently it's very scary:

"Cain Davis, chairman of Citizens for Good Public Policy, said the issue is about regulating a "government gone wild" and ensuring public safety, charging that sexual predators could now simply enter a women's restroom claiming to be a transgender individual.

"We know when men go into women's restrooms, bad things can happen," Davis said.

Leaving aside the chilling fact that Davis apparently thinks taking away rights from strangers who've done no harm counts as Good Public Policy, that last statement is bizarre. Of course, when traditionally gendered men go into women's restrooms, they're probably there specifically with "bad things" in mind (at least if they've gone in there on purpose)... but when transgendered people go into whatever restroom best fits their identity, they're probably there just to pee!

Not for nothin', but aren't all the Bad Things™ that might happen in a public restroom illegal in their own right, regardless of whether or not everyone's in the "right" restroom?

In actual fact, these bad things seem to be limited to Davis's perverse nightmares:

Since the ordinance took effect [last year], police have reported no problems in public restrooms stemming from the law.

Ahh, but why let the facts stand in the way of perfectly good intolerance, eh?

In practice, I'm sure transgendered folk regularly use public restrooms without anyone else ever suspecting that they're anything other than what they appear to be... but for people who are just trying to get on with their lives in a sensible, law-abiding way, the uncertainty around this issue has real consquences:

Computer programmer Clare Holman, who was born male but now lives as a female, said she simply stays away from public toilets.

"I don't want to run afoul of the law by using the wrong restroom," Holman said.

I'm crossing my legs just thinking about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep blogging, you are a joy to read.