By Katelyn Wabnum
It is 2016 and the civil rights of American people are at risk.
(Palm Harbor, FL) 700,000 individuals are facing social injustice in public facilities across the nation. Restroom usage is not a topic expected to cause a modern day uproar. Oh but it has— the privacy of Transgender people is being invaded in court rooms in Iowa, Vermont, Washington, Colorado, and DC. (OSHA)
It is the belief of many that government intervention in the private lives of its citizens is unnecessary and disastrous. This comes with the understanding that all of the basic rights of Americans are already protected. This is America, the land of the free; Citizens can legally create a gun range in their own backyard, well at least in Florida, while other citizens are unable to use the restroom appropriate for their gender.
Numerous organizations are in support of Transgender rights including: TGI Justice Project, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Chicago House, Global Action for Trans Equality and Gendered Intelligence. All of the organizations are focused on educating others on what it means to be transgender and protecting people from discrimination.
It is reasonable for people to be uncomfortable with change if they are not up to date on why the changes are occurring. Also, it is reasonable for law makers to want to settle national disputes with legislation. However, is it reasonable to ask a person what anatomy is under their pants?
Sex is defined as the biological status assigned at birth based primarily upon “physical attributes such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence, and external/internal anatomy”. Gender is a social phenomenon in which specific behaviors are assigned as girl behavior or boy behavior. Sexuality is a not related in any way to sex or gender, contrary to assumed social customs. Sexuality refers to a person’s preference or orientation. (American Psychological Association)
The occurrence of an individual not conforming to assumed gender roles has been come to known as Transgender. Yet, gender nonconformity has been documented in several indigenous, western and eastern cultures for centuries (American Psychological Association). Until recently the bathroom usage of these individuals have remained out of the public eye.
Appearance is not a justifiable identification of gender. If a man does not look masculine enough according to a person’s personal opinion it is that person’s constitutional right to express it, but let it be known it is just as polite as telling someone their baby is ugly. Besides, chances are many have used the same restroom as a transgender individual unbeknown.
Fear of crime and violence is overpowering the public’s sense of righteousness. A recent concern is that “Peeping-Toms” will take advantage of the new legislation and violate privacy in public restrooms. Voyeurism is against the law and individuals committing those acts are criminals. It is unfair to treat American citizens as criminals before they have ever committed a crime. There are risks virtually everywhere you turn in the modern era. Fear is not an excuse to oppress others.
Talk of gender neutral restrooms in the work place and other areas of shared space has been mentioned as a solution. Though, how are employers to address the policy of restroom usage without violating the privacy of their employees? If a person identifies and presents themselves to the world as a female, they should be entitled to use the Women’s restroom; the same rights should apply to men. It would be crude and inappropriate to demand to know what physical anatomy a personal was born with.
Due to social constructs many individuals do not come to terms with their true gender until later in life. This creates the need for a transition period. It is crucial to the transition that individuals are able to express their preferred gender and feel comfortable doing so in social settings. Transitioning is a complex process often taking years. It is wrong to discourage a person during this process by stripping them of their right to use public restrooms.
Culture in America is beautiful chaos. The nation’s strong-willed, opinion driven inhabitants are divided on every major crisis. However, opposition breeds solutions. Disagreements are the fuel to our advancing shuttle of Democracy. Remain hopeful that education and awareness will nurture open-mindedness in the near future.
Photo credit: Pixabay.com (Public Domain)