Mercedes Allen

Flushing the 'Bathroom Bill' Fear Once and For All

Filed By Mercedes Allen | March 22, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Bathroom Bill, C-389, Canada, fear mongering, gender expression, gender identity, homophobic behavior, international, LGBT, Maryland, Missoula, Montana, politics, spin, trans, transgender, transphobia, transsexual

As I write this, the LGBT community is struggling with a situation in Maryland where the provision for "public accommodations" has been removed from a bill that proposes to extend human rights to trans people, due to the ongoing "bathroom bill" panic-generation tactic.

men-women-bathroom.jpgIn Canada, Bill C-389 passed despite this same fearmongering, but faces an increasingly precarious situation in the Senate.

In Montana, the state is proposing legislation that aims to erase the protections for all LGBT people that had passed the previous year in the city of Missoula, where the "not in my bathroom" rhetoric failed... and where most pretexts of it have now been dropped in the battle against equality.

Elsewhere in North America, potty panic has been used to stir up an emotional "ick" response to any legislation that protects trans people, and even some non-inclusive LGB protections. And once the emotions have been engaged, logic has to work five times harder to dispel the myths.

But in Maryland - which in 2007 was the birthplace of this wave of "bathroom bill" spin-mongering - the tactic needs to be addressed head-on before it forever changes the face of how we accord and apply human rights. Because the recent removal of "public accommodations" affects far more than washrooms, all because of an irrational fear of the possibility of behavior that isn't actually facilitated by trans protections and doesn't actually happen in real life.

Human Rights In Principle

The whole premise of human rights is that all people should have equal access to employment, housing, medical and social services, and opportunities. The understanding is that people should be judged on their individual merits or faults, and not on characteristics that other people may have prejudicial associations about. We specify classes because bigoted people keep trying to make excuses to assert exceptions to the rule. You shouldn't have to tell society that it's wrong to place life barriers for people just because others find their body weight objectionable, for example, but as it becomes increasingly demonstrated that discrimination persists, it becomes apparent that you do. Without specifying these classes, a false equivalence is asserted in which one's human rights can be trumped by another's irrational fear of having to coexist with them.

Because classes are open-ended (i.e. "race" includes white people as much as non-white people), the whole idea that people in codified classes have "special rights" is a myth. The intent is that a person should not be excluded from participating in society because of assumptions or constructions associated with a trait, but rather their own merits or failures should form the basis of how we decide to interact with them. The playing field needs to be levelled to that there is equal opportunity in principle (although it doesn't always happen in practice).

You don't narrowly define these classes: once you start doing that, you start codifying into law when it becomes legally acceptable to discriminate against a group of people. That is why when you include a class like "disability," you don't make an exception for people with mental illness. There is an example of this in the ironically-named Equality Act, in the UK, where legislation outlines when it is considered perfectly lawful to disenfranchise trans people.


The good news is that this has not happened in the current situation in Maryland. Although public accommodations have been dropped from the bill, there haven't been any codified exemptions to create legally-sanctioned discrimination. Consequently, areas not outlined in legislation become a matter for the courts, and the incrementalist perspective expresses hope that if there is no opportunity to introduce a better bill later, then the judicial system will at some point read in these protections on the basis of what is already codified in law. LGBT Marylanders who have taken the "anything is better than nothing" approach have this to place their hope in, and it's not substanceless.

However, we know that anytime unabashedly homophobic and transphobic people perceive that they can push LGBT people into the margins, they will almost always attempt to do so. There is no guarantee that public accommodations will be read in or added later, and in the meantime, there will be people falling through the cracks of an incomplete bill.

There is also a concern that if Marylanders see it as acceptable to drop public accommodations from trans human rights legislation, then future legislators will see it as reasonable to do the same. In a way, this move surrenders the washrooms to our opponents.

And more. As Monica Roberts points out, "public accommodations" cuts a far wider swath than simply gendered stalls, showers and urinals:

A place of "public accommodation" is defined as "an establishment either affecting interstate commerce or supported by state action, and falling into one of the following categories: (1) a lodging for transient guests located within a building with more than five rooms for rent; (2) a facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including such facilities located within retail establishments and gasoline stations; (3) any place of exhibition or entertainment; (4) any establishment located within an establishment falling into one of the first three categories, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of that establishment; or (5) any establishment that contains a covered establishment, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of that covered establishment. Bishop v. Henry Modell & Co., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104830, 39-40 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 9, 2009)

In other words, if this bill is passed and I travel to Maryland, I potentially lose my rights when dealing with hotels, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls, all because irrational people assume that being trans somehow automatically makes me a sexual predator.

The Porcelain Red Herring

That's the infuriating part of all of this. I'm transsexual, and have been using the womens' restroom ever since I transitioned, years ago. It has never been illegal for me to do so. Making it an issue at this point in time is archaic on a level that is mind boggling. The Transgender Law and Policy Institute notes around 130 jurisdictions in the US where explicit legal inclusion for transgender and transsexual people exists (some back to 1975), and yet the only incident of the kind being imagined by opponents was staged by opponents (more on this in a moment). The conflation of trans people with sexual predators is a fallacy.

It's also ludicrous to speculate that a cisgender/cissexual sexual predator would risk drawing attention to himself by crossdressing, in order to access a washroom that he'd have better luck just sneaking into when no one is looking. This is simply a meme designed to generate a quick panic response and exploit the "ick" factor for people whose idea of what trans is hasn't evolved past Shirley Q. Liquor.

In the US south, decades earlier, there was reluctance to desegregate washrooms because of "delicate sensibilities" and beliefs in the inferiority and impurity of entire groups of people. In the advent of HIV, there were ignorant comments about gay men in washrooms, borne by fears that had not yet been dispelled by science that AIDS could be contracted from a toilet seat. I even remember discussions in the 1980s when disabled washrooms were first proposed, in which people expressed their "discomfort" of encountering amputees in intimate spaces (which is a pretty chilling and disgusting objection nowadays, isn't it?). And every time, there was hysteria. Every time, it was unfounded. Every time, our society ultimately moved toward progress, inclusion and accommodation, anyway, and bigots just had to bloody well get over it. And every time, we looked back and realized that the potty panic was just plain offensive.

Exactly Because This Persists

What people are failing to see is that potty fear is in fact the strongest argument for trans human rights inclusion. And I strongly believe that the moment we realize that and confront Bathroom Bill rhetoric head-on and turn it back on the homophobes and transphobes, we will have human rights opponents tripping over themselves to disavow it.

If we are prepared to stand up and say something.

Human rights protections are necessary exactly because this irrational fear persists. It's necessary exactly because trans people still get conflated with sex predators and child predators, or labeled as "sick," "perverse," and "freaks." It's necessary exactly because people become so clouded with assumptions and myths that they argue for our deliberate exclusion from human rights under the pretext that granting them would be "dangerous" or "scary." It's necessary exactly because this bias is so entrenched that people think nothing about broadcasting it openly as though fact. It's necessary exactly because this "ick factor" response is seen as justification for not allowing an entire group of people to share the same space, to terminate their employment or to evict them. It's necessary exactly because it is so pervasive that discrimination becomes not only likely but inevitable - especially if there is no explicit direction in law to the contrary on the matter.

Maryland Redux

Politics is local. In 2007, Montgomery County, Maryland, teleported itself into the middle of the conflict between far right Christian Nationalists (as opposed to Christians, some of whom are affirming) and LGBT people, when the NotMyShower website was established and "Citizens for a Responsible Government" (CRG) took the "ew, ick" impulse that cisgender people had about their mythic impression of trans people, mixed it with their feeling of vulnerability in washrooms and came up with the modern version of the "Bathroom Bill" formula. The meme was originally about showers (where actual nudity could theoretically happen) before they discovered that making it about public restrooms better enabled their scaremongering to go viral. This probably wasn't a previously unheard-of objection, but it was polished and perfected into a political technique in Maryland.

Complete with a washroom invasion at a gym and spa in Gaithersburg. Here is how it was reported on by a local ABC television affiliate, on Tuesday January 15, 2008:

A man dressed as a woman walked into the women's locker room at the Rio Sport and Health Club in Gaithersburg Monday, spawning concerns over a new controversial law designed to protect transgendered people.

Around 1 p.m. Monday, a man wearing a dress walked into the women's locker room surprising Mary Ann Ondray who was drying her hair. "I could see his muscles, I could see his large hands. He was wearing a blue ruffled skirt that came down to above the knee."

The male left without saying anything, but Ondray says, "I was very upset, I'm still upset. There's a lot he could've seen."

Club officials say he is a male club member, but it's still unclear why he was dressed as a woman or why he didn't use a designated family restroom.

(Incidentally, the use of a single-stall locking restroom is in fact the policy for pre- or non-operative trans people at the health club in question)

Speculation abounded almost immediately afterward, and was so blatantly obvious that CRG's Theresa Rickman eventually admitted to having staged the incident - but it's still sometimes pointed to by opponents, since the media didn't as widely report the deception:

THERESA RICKMAN: Yes, at Rio Sport and Health up in Germantown. A guy dressed as a girl went into the ladies bathroom. And, ah you know, essentially what uh, that was meant to get some media attention, you know, and the guy left immediately apparently, I mean but there was, this is the Rio Sport and Health Club, you know and Sport and Health has steam rooms, and there are ladies changing in those locker rooms, people in various stages of undress [laughing] all the time, so there's lots a guy can see.

Transphobia has fomented in Maryland with a peculiar intensity in the past four years,where an odyssey unfolded which saw trans protections pass in Montgomery County, only to have opponents push a petition drive fiercely enough to put the option on the ballot for voters to repeal it... only for the courts to then recognize that enough of the petition's signatures were questionable or likely to have been obtained under false pretenses to invalidate it. Montgomery County also saw a murder attempt that was investigated as a hate crime in 2009, and attempts to destroy Dana Beyer's political career.

Context is everything, and it's important to recognize how the "Bathroom Bill" spin cycle progressed in Maryland, and where it differs or is similar to what happened elsewhere.

Oh Canada!

Transsexuals - those people who are primarily being villainized in the washroom territory dispute - face challenges to their very existence regularly during a transition process that is recognized by medical authorities as valid and necessary. Zoe Brain outlines quite vividly the kinds of hoops we need to go through when we begin our transition... and how it is far from a whim.

That's not good enough for Charles McVety. He feels that:

"Bill C-389 is a danger to our children," said Charles McVety, president of the Institute for Canadian Values. "If 'gender identity' is enshrined in the Criminal Code of Canada, any male at any time will be permitted in girls' bathrooms, showers and change rooms as long as they have an 'innate feeling' of being female."

If one has the innate feeling of having a doctorate - and the cash - on the other hand, why not?

McVety and other homo/transphobes started up the spin cycle almost from the moment that trans protections went to committee for second reading. Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada tried to exploit mental health prejudices by repeatedly citing a pamphlet by the American College of Pediatricians (a legitimate-sounding medical body that screens its membership according to far-right views on abortion and homosexuality, and whose publication has been disavowed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the accepted authority in pediatrics). The website No Apologies openly proclaimed allegations that trans people are "sexual predators and voyeurs." The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada was notable among several online initiatives by automating the process so that with a click of a button, people who were sufficiently frightened by the rhetoric could click a button and mail every Member of Parliament with a prepared letter.

And although mainstream media - outside the Harper government-influenced Sun Media, which is currently trying to launch a preferentially-treated television network that is referred to as "Fox News North" - refused to dignify much of the washroom scare tripe (and sometimes printed notably positive editorials), trans voices were largely excluded the conversation about trans rights almost altogether. This happened despite the fact that trans people across Canada approached media with a willingness to speak on the issue.

But regardless of all of this, on February 9th, 2011, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) on a narrow vote of 143-135. In a nation that hadn't encountered "Bathroom Bill" spin before and had been somewhat insulated from similar discussions that happened south of the border, it had fared better... but still (thus far) failed.

Incidentally, McVety runs an organization directly funded by John Hagee and Focus on the Family, Landolt uses talking points that are almost verbatim those used by Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition (and derived from CRG), and Tristan Emmanuel -- mentor to Timothy Bloedow and the original founder of both No Apologies and a centre dedicated to training Evangelicals and Christian Nationalists to try to form a biblically-driven government -- now runs a company that publishes Matt Barber. If we don't think these folks are trading strategies, we're fooling ourselves.

Missoula, Montana: The Little City That Could

Alberta is very much a community caught between Montana's ranchman culture, Texas oil culture, and our trademark Canadian complacency. As well as being the birthplace of the Harper government and a hotbed for Christian Nationalism, we were home to the Stephen Boissoin "religious persecution" hate speech case heard around the world, provided a home (and tenure!) to a military psychiatrist who was accused of using horrific techniques to cure gays in South Africa, and witnessed the firing of a teacher by a publicly-funded Catholic school board that explicitly stated the termination was because of his transition to male. At some moments, we're embarrassingly regressive, and yet there is a fiercely progressive streak among the public not often reflected by provincial politics or social issues. It is this stubborn live-and-let-live silent majority that has endeared me to Alberta and kept me here, and it is because Montana is quite similar in this regard that I had followed the events in Missoula closely.

To me, Missoula signaled the beginning of the end of the Bathroom Bill tactic. There, opponents took the (by this time) highly original approach of creating the NotMyBathroom website and engaged in several distortions. But there was a difference. With a little information, people saw through the fearmongering.

In a panel hosted by Forward Montana and featuring a Wyoming Republican, a pastor, a veteran and a past chairman of the Montana College Republicans, the latter stated in support of LGBT protections: "I cannot believe we're fighting issues like this in 2010." And although members of CrossPoint Community Church and senior pastor Dr. Bruce Speer disrupted a meeting of community religious leaders who came together to express support for the ordinance, the affirming leaders soldiered on, forming Flush the Fear, which declares:

"All people should be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Faith communities value dignity, fairness, diversity, and justice, and we know our strength as a community is based on treating each other fairly and with respect. Our group will be a strong and peaceful voice for the full inclusion of the LGBT community in non-discrimination policy."

Allies and affirming people of faith stood with us. Cisgender people who realized that they too were the focus of hatred for thinking outside the stereotypically male and stereotypically female boxes stood with us. And on April 10th, civic legislators passed an ordinance to protect LGBT people at a margin of 10-2. Don't get me wrong -- this didn't happen without vile rhetoric and loud opposition... but enough people saw through it to do the right thing.

"Fool me once..."

Once that happened, opponents of LGBT rights (because it wasn't only trans people who the ordinance protected) realized they couldn't use pee fear in an overt capacity, and pushed the state government to pass legislation that would invalidate Missoula's ordinance under the pretext of making human rights protections consistent throughout the state, thereby avoiding confusion. If that sounds spurious, you're not the only one. Especially when cast against the disgusting comments by Dr. William Wise during discussion of a concurrent bill to remove sodomy from the Montana penal code.

Although, that hasn't stopped the "Bathroom Bill" meme from being used under the radar:

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, defended the right "not to be overregulated."

He said he has heard comments from people asking about whether a business, under the ordinance, could legally keep "a certain sector" out of a multi-stall public restrooms. It was an apparent reference to transgender men [sic] using women's restrooms, an issue raised by some people testifying against the bill in hearings.

But ultimately, washrooms (which, like anywhere else trans protections exist, have not experienced an actual trans predator since the ordinance passed) were never the issue at all: refusal to coexist with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people was.

(Montanans who want to petition legislators or find out how they can be involved can find out info via the Montana Human Rights Network. The bill was recently amended to narrow it so that it specifically changed ONLY Missoula's protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity)

Maryland Revisited

So the struggle comes right back to Maryland, with a state-wide ordinance HB235. This time, because peoples' concerns about washrooms had put intense pressure on her, Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties) dropped a provision for "public accommodations" from it. Pena-Melnyk had sponsored trans-inclusive legislation since 2007, and this was reportedly a difficult decision -- but ultimately, the support that she would have needed to overcome the "Bathroom Bill" meme just wasn't there.

Noting that supporters were unable to get the bill out of committee during the past three years, [Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan] Meneses-Sheets said most supporters believe an incremental strategy of advancing employment and housing protections for transgender people this year is a "far better" option than seeing the bill go down to defeat and having no protections at all.

An online petition has been started to have the provision reinstated and a Facebook group has been set up to"Tell Maryland Legislators NO to HB235 Omitting Public Accommodations." Equality Maryland has come under fire for silencing critics of the move. On Tuesday, activists from Trans Maryland rallied outside the Supreme Court to try to have the provision reinstated (although commenters have questioned whether the rally might have been more effective at the MD state legislature).

Meanwhile, opponents continue to oppose the bill -- this time, because it "redefines gender." And even when acknowledging the removal of the public accommodations provision, they continue raising the specter of "bathroom rapes" by citing violent acts committed by people who aren't trans at all and weren't enabled in any way by an extension of human rights protections to trans people.

The underpinnings of every community's political situation is always different from situation to situation. Maryland is not Canada is not Missoula is not ENDA. Toilet terror has been waged longer, fiercer and and more bitterly than anywhere on the planet so far. It is inevitable that some LGBT Marylanders will feel that something is better than nothing, at this point. But even if a best-case scenario unfolded for incrementalists and HB235 passed, with public accommodations being added in some way shortly thereafter (and before someone could be negatively affected by its absence), the act of removing the provision has already seriously fractured pro-trans forces in that state.

Missoula was the beginning of the end of washroom tactics... unless we wave the white flag of surrender.

So What is the Answer?

It's one thing to condemn and criticize. It's another to come up with a solution, and that is the challenge we face both in Maryland and anywhere the "Bathroom Bill" talking points are exploited. This is the moment we either rise to that challenge or turn on each other. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

In some private discussions during the quest to pass Bill C-389 in Canada, there was some talk about doing a "sit-out" protest (either at a visible government building washroom entrance or with the iconic male and female symbols put on the doors of the government buildings themselves) that uses the theme of being shut out of washrooms as a metaphor for being shut out of legislation, human rights and basic necessities. Media releases sent out the night before would use the washroom angle to generate interest, and then during a daytime rally (in the media cycle), speakers could focus on that, telling stories of exclusion from within the trans community, and having a handout.

Ultimately, too many people were afraid of possibly lending credence to the meme, and it never happened. And depending on what happens in the Senate, it may not have been necessary. But I do believe that by effective communication, and by including a diversity of people - especially cisgender people who queer their gender a bit (making the point of how gender expression protections are of value to far more than trans people) - it can turn the conversation right back on the fearmongers. Because that's what we need to do.

But politics is local. Is Maryland the time and place to revisit this?

All of a sudden, these things just started appearing in womens' washrooms everywhere.

And then, there's the possibility of a stickering campaign, which could be employed anywhere that washroom panic is used to attempt to deny trans people legal protections. It would require the participation of those trans people and allies who do use a ladies' restroom, to cumulatively make it be noticed and be effective. Because if a sticker like this started appearing in washrooms all across North America, the discussion would likely change. Completely.

(I have the URL, and would be more than happy to employ it to flush the fear on an international level. I would not, however, be able to fund and maintain it on my own.)

This would require people to have the stickers printed and place them, and is a relatively inexpensive approach that could be done on a grassroots level. It could, however, cause some blow-back, from those who would portray us as "men invading womens' spaces." It is the only part of the discussion that the general public will see as having merit, but it is one of the central foundations of the "Bathroom Bill" argument, and something that will need to be addressed. If we proceed on a sticker campaign, we will need to be prepared and equipped to do this.

This would be a bit different from initiatives like that of a coalition of Illinois groups, who started a campaign to highlight businesses that have trans-inclusive washroom policies.

I'm sure there are more ideas.

It's infuriating that we should have to dignify washroom predator rhetoric with a response. But if we must, then let's turn it right back on the fearmongers and use it to show exactly why it demonstrates that trans-inclusive human rights legislation is needed. Starting right where it all began and moving all across North America.

Because with ENDA being about to be reintroduced in the House soon (albeit more symbolically than otherwise), and being championed by a legislator who has done more to perpetuate the washroom scare than to challenge it, I doubt American trans folk can afford to let this tactic run amok, anymore.

This has been diaried at DailyKos. If you feel it should have wide visibility, please vote there for it to be promoted to the front page.

Also crossposted to DentedBlueMercedes and Progressive Bloggers.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Added: Thanks to Dana Beyer for reviewing the Maryland information in this article & feedback.

brandigirl | March 22, 2011 9:30 PM

Mercedes I am one of a growning number HBS women of history who feels Tg are different from TS and don't like or want being included under their stupid umbrella personally I doesn't want to share a ladies room, locker room or shower area with a man...and as fall as I'm concerned those who self diagnosis and choose diy transtions and don't have an offical diagnosis are men in dresses.

Seriously? You couldn't even find something in the article to riff on before trying to hijack and make this about HBS / Classic / etc? Geez. Try to put in a little imagination, at least.

I suppose it`s very fortunate that I had a therapist who followed established medical standards, rather than by following your standards.

Notwithstanding, you blame "the TG" all you like, but in your perfect world where "the TG" either don't exist or else get shot and p!$%ed on, Christianists would still be conflating transsexual women with whatever they could use to instill fear, to assert themselves into legislation, and to fundraise.

I have no further time for HBS BS.

Seriously? You couldn't even find something in the article to riff on before trying to hijack and make this about HBS / Classic / etc? Geez. Try to put in a little imagination, at least.

I don't think that's ever been an issue before. They'll find anything.

Don't feed the trolls, people. It only encourages them.

I find it very disappointing, but not surprising that someone can't have a differing opinion without being called a "Troll". How does the LGBTT community ever expect to find cohesion if they can't even listen to and consider everyones opinion even if it is different then their own.

Answer they won't they will remain a fragmented group always squabbling amongst themselves and never be taken seriously by mainstream society.

really brandigirl!

are there men actually running around in dresses these days? Oh MY God. next thing you know it'll be women in pants!!!

We need to start an advertising campaign, both video and print with some of the below scenes acted out.

1) A transman, particularly unkempt, but not identified as such, walking into a ladies shower room saying "I have to use this shower. Tell your state Representative and Senator to pass Bill XXX WITH Transgender Inclusion to get me out this shower room."

2) Same setup, but saying "The Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, most Baptist and Protestant religious churches and groups groups mandate I use this shower with your wife and daughters. Support transgender bathroom rights to get me out of this shower room."

3) A beautiful transwoman, but not identified as such, entering a mens locker room. She says "The Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, most Baptist and Protestant religious churches and groups mandate I use this shower with strange men. Support transgender bathroom rights to get me out of this shower room."

I will let others come up with ideas.

This is good, although possibly cost-prohibitive if it's done by the grassroots. Television ads would be expensive, though online ads are more attainable, and something like this done through YouTube -- if it had enough of a hook -- could go viral (downside: likely limited audience).

I'd suggest being careful about focusing on trans men in restrooms, though, lest the opposition become about excluding the guys too and backfire. If this approach was taken, it would be best to have a volunteer, who was also part of designing the messaging.

But most importantly, though, it has to be turned around on opponents. Something in the messaging to conclude by pointing out how potty panic is a red herring to deny rights to employment, housing, services, etc.

So doable, but I think minimal-cost approaches are the way to go, unless our orgs are prepared to get on board.

I like the idea of a sticker and I think the one pictured would be ineffective. Most people would be unaware of the meaning of the triangle symbol, in my opinion. Instead, a simple Post-It with the words, "A transgender person used this bathroom today and nothing bad happened!" would convey the message much more simply and effectively. It's a way of being out while remaining anonymous (for all of those who are still uncomfortable with being completely out).

The meme already has credence enough to cause otherwise savvy legislators to remove public accommodations protections from their non discrimination bills. It's time to start pushing back a lot harder than we already have.

I think the trans community would also like to see a little (or a lot) more help against this meme from the cisgender LGB community. Their voices have, so far, been woefully inadequate against this pernicious form of propaganda.

I think the trans community would also like to see a little (or a lot) more help against this meme from the cisgender LGB community. Their voices have, so far, been woefully inadequate against this pernicious form of propaganda.

Absolutely, and I don't think it has to take a lot -- just a change in how we think about this rhetoric.

I love the idea of a post-it note. However, I also think it's worth having a website link for more info.

A post it note with "A transgender person used this bathroom today and nothing bad happened!" is Great!

We could print them up by the thousands and place the post-its on both men and women's bathroom doors even without going in. After the general populice crying wolf about a TG using the restroom, but no TG actually did, enough times it will become a non issue.

Breaking News:
Montana HB 516, which would have nullified local ordinances of protection, has been returned to committee.
Good news for proponents of protection.

More here:

That's excellent news. I just hope it doesn't come back in some less obvious form.

Great post, Mercedes. Part of the problem is that people need to lighten up with the bathroom stuff. Seriously, it shouldn't matter what the genders are of the other people you're using the bathroom with, much less the history of their genders/sexes.

I just wish our community(ies) would realize that this is the strongest argument for inclusive rights that our opponents could possibly give us, rather than run from it.

You know - the sticker idea? if the sticker doesn't do the trick, you could try this one:

make sure you bring Thierry Guetta along to document the placing of the stickers. should probably wear a hoody and a ski mask to be on the safe side, although a Mardi Gras mask might be more appropriate under the hoody for the woman's restroom. i am confused about whether men's rest rooms are to be part of the campaign. in that case, definitely wear a ski mask but bring Thierry. you might want to use one of Shephard Fairy's other stickers in that case - maybe the one of Andre that reads OBEY across the top.

Shows how stupid conservates (so-called) really are. What happened to "JOBS"?

To win this fight will really take a TV ad and I think I have the one. Starts with a man at the urinal up walks a man to the urinal next to his and starts prosletizing.The first man says can't a person even go to the bathroom in peace. Cut from that to: people for the ethical treatment of people's gender identity. Turn it back on them and it opens up the dialogue that all it is about is being able to go to the bathroom.People for the ethical treatment points out it is their morals that are flawed. Gender Identity is a neutral term and if it isn't I'm making it one.Since it's my idea if someone wants to use it the Transgender name and transgender symbol cannot be in the ad period. I'm not an HBS but I'm also not lgb or transgender, Gender Identity Disorder And Transsexual are more than enough labels for me. Respect me for not wanting your additional label stuck to me or for not wanting to be associated with it.

Hi Amy,

I don't want to get into an argument about why GID shouldn't be removed from the DSM but there are a lot of people who don't want that label hung on them. It's the argument opponents of anti-discrimination statutes are using to deny people their rights.

I think the best argument is the one that uses the fact that so many jurisdictions have anti-discrimination legislation and it has been a non issue in places where there are anti-discrimination statutes. Rhode Island has had one since 1995

I went to the not my bathroom website last night and it linked to two rape cases in Maryland that happened in women's restrooms in Maryland which, obviously, does not have an anti-discrimination statute yet. Neither case had to do with anything but men presenting in typical male fashion invading restrooms to rape women. One of the guys had a beard. The opponent's arguments are ridiculous.

There is so much written about the situation in Maryland on so many different trans sites, that is written in a very strident manner, it is hard to find specific information on the wording of the bill itself. I don't like the trans sticker idea, at all. It gives the impression that people are sneaking into restrooms. I am not going to sign a petition that uses wording like "gender variant", either. Variance implies norms and validates arbitrary limitation. Norms change with time and culture. An expression like variance is negative rather than positive like notions of diverse expression.

The Rhode Island anti-discrimination statute pertaining to public accommodations reads:

>>What is a “place of public accommodation”?
Places of public accommodation are places that are open to the public
and include, but are not limited to, stores, restaurants, bars, public
transportation, garages, hotels, hospitals, clinics, rest rooms, barber
shops, salons, amusement parks, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools,
theaters, fairs, libraries, public housing projects, and so on.19
What does the law say about discrimination in places of public
Such places may not refuse, withhold from or deny any person any of
the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges of that public
place, nor may they advertise or state that their accommodations are so
limited, because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or

I don't know if that can be interpreted so that the statute specifically requires people to offer accommodations segregated by gender to be made available to people to match their gender presentation. I think Dr. Weiss wrote about a ruling in Minnesota, which has had an anti-discrimination statute on the books for a long time, where a woman of post op history was denied access to gender specific facilities where she worked and it was ruled constitutional there in spite of the anti-discrimination statute.

Mercedes has written a very comprehensive post on anti-discrimination statutes. I stayed up late last night trying to comprehend. I know that in Rhode Island, it wasn't a confrontational approach that led to the statute here. An appeal to human need was made. A transgender woman(I don't know if she is transsexual or not) was attacked and beaten by a bunch of drunken youths. Her testimony moved the legislators to pass the legislation.

Edith as always your post is well thought out and written :). From what I can tell and from what I've read every bill uses the term gender identity to describe protections for all of us.Like you I don't like the term gender variance and I hate the newest one that I've recently heard being pushed from within the community gender non conforming and I see transgender as no better. I appreciate what you said about not everyone wanting the GID label hung on them but as a transsexual you know part of the process is being diagnosed as gid whether we like it or not. I seriously question what the people pushing this crap are thinking. Gender non conforming and gender variance to me means stuck as always being seen as what you were born as physically never who you are internally. Transgender adds to the confusion as it lumps us all together even though type 4,5,and 6 transexuals are vastly different than type 1,2,and 3 cd's and gender queers.As for GID I'm okay with the first two parts its the disordered that is harsh. That's why when I recomended my little commercial I left out disordered and simply stated people for the ethical treatment of gender identity. The LGB is broken into separate groups Lesbian,Gay, and bisexual yet they all share one common thing same sex attraction. Only with the T is there issues with separating the different groups even though there clearly is a need to help end the confusion. Just as bad though I think is when you combine the whole alphabet soup and cover it with the big umbrella term Gay community. I think that one big umbrella term helps to feed the belief that we are men,were once men etc even though lesbian is women and bisexual includes women. At some point I believe we as a group are going to have to do what HRC did during the first round of enda.We are going to have to drop a subgroup because it simply isn't correct to advance them that right. Like you mentioned about the post-op TS woman Dr.Weiss wrote about that was denied access to the women's facility where she worked.For all intents and purposes she is a women and should be allowed access to any women's facility passable or not. But someone who is a crossdresser or isn't even post-op shouldn't be in an open womens area undressed or infront of undressed women. I'm saying that and I'm pre-op and while I can say I wouldn't put myself in that position considering all the talk out of the other groups how can we be so sure that someone else won't. Everyone should have access to reasonable public accomodations it's cruel and unusual to think otherwise but what are reasonable public accomodations and to who should they apply? Plus given what I said about not feeling like I belong in an open womens showering and dressing area shouldn't businesses that have those type areas be able to provide an alternative area for us and others that might have a need for other reasons? Also not that long ago the local area homeless shelter wouldn't allow anyone Trans anything to stay in the facilities for the gender they presented as. If they were MTF they went in the mens and had to use the mens open shower area. I know from first hand experience and I made them fully aware of my T status and that I had breasts. Until I was accepted into a Veterans program I didn't have a choice accept to use the open mens bathroom and showers. I complained often snd also to my VA representative who had full access to my medical records proving my GID diagnosis and that I had been on hormones for two years. I had to wait until the last minute at night and sneak in hoping I didn't get assaulted or worse to take a shower. While I was involved at the local LGBT center a homeless T person showed up and all of us contributed to helping this person and I even let them stay at my house a few nights and fed them. The center reached out to the homeless shelter and after a couple of weeks got them to place them in the correct gender dorm. After a night or two this person told me that a woman had complained that she had seen said person naked in the bathroom outside of stall areas.The person denied the incident happened. The person said the shelter took note of it but didn't take any action. I was just told less than a week ago by someone else whom I trust this same person has been going in and out of the shelter wearing a pin that says "My penis is just as real as my breasts." Again so far as I know the shelter hasn't taken action about it. But if and when they do who is at fault? This one person might screw it up for the next person. In a perfect world only the person would be held accountable for their actions but in this world when one from a marginalized group acts improperly the whole group suffers because it feeds the stereotypes.

Sigh. I promised myself years ago I would never, ever...

You wrote:

"At some point I believe we as a group are going to have to do what HRC did during the first round of enda.We are going to have to drop a subgroup because it simply isn't correct to advance them that right."

Just like it simply wasn't correct for them to advance the idea of rights for us?

That's snarky, I know, but as far as I'm concerned, any bill that is only about gender identity and not inclusive of gender expression is a flawed bill, and someday, in places where this has happened, we're going to realize just how many people we've left out in the cold. And they will resent us for it.

Assuming some of us care about that. I do.

Not to mention that gender expression is exactly how our cissexual allies also stand to benefit from trans-inclusive legislation, and is their personal incentive to support it.

But that's what the separatism is all about, isn't it: "we should have our rights and everyone else can be damned?" I probably shouldn't be surprised that the person who would finally say it so bluntly and actually use the HRC's example as justification would be the person who stabbed me in the back years ago, before TBP existed and before this sentiment had the names HBS or Classic, when I first admitted considering remaining non-op. Of course, to you that was nothing; to me, it was my Julius Caesar moment, concurrent both locally in Edmonton and online at places like Alt. So I guess you're among those I have to thank for the fact that I'm a [email protected]$$ about inclusion now.


"But someone who is a crossdresser or isn't even post-op shouldn't be in an open womens area undressed or infront of undressed women."

This was never even the question. I would hope that our community would understand that anyone with genitalia that don't match those around them should seek private enough accommodation so they're not consciously exposing said equipment... even if our opponents don't. It's easy enough to codify, too, if that's the assurance that is wanted in legislation: "if one's existing genitalia are incongruent with the facilities being used, then reasonable measures to ensure privacy must be taken through the mutual co-operation of the facility owner and the person in question, and which are not inconsistent with the person's gender identity."

But then, that's not the assurance that the "Bathroom Bill" people want. Their position is that anyone who ever had a penis is a predator.

And even that is simply a straw man argument for the fact that they simply don't want to coexist with people who can be seen as outside the bounds of their idea of heteronormativity in any way. Which is why the potty argument comes up even for LGB-related bills that don't include anyone trans at all. Just as removing public accommodations is conceeding to an issue that has no merit, this trans separatism is our community's way of doing the same bloody thing.

"... when one from a marginalized group acts improperly the whole group suffers because it feeds the stereotypes."

Yes, but it's not any one segment who behave improperly, and it's certainly not all people in that subgroup who behave improperly. Law and society need to judge individuals based on individual merits or failures, and not on generalized characteristics and their related assumptions. The fundamental principle of human rights remains intact. And that's why we don't drop people because we think that they and anyone like them are "icky."

This is a direct result of stealth. Stealth is a choice, but the end result of remaining a hidden population is that we will always be vulnerable to the prejudices generated or reinforced by those few who are visible. If more of us are out, then there is a means to put others' behaviour into perspective.

You know Mercedes those how many ever years ago after I gave you your Julius Ceasar moment which wasn't meant to be one,I googled my name and low and behold I found that you had posted it outside of the forum it was said in. I felt that you had violated me by posting what I had said in that forum outside that forum.So low and behold here I am all these years later giving you what you think is your next Juluis Cesar moment. If I hadn't read my name spread out all through the T community I'd have probably just stayed in that one community. Truthfully I purposely made my post sound like an HBS and hrc post last night because I felt it needed it to drive the point home.The state that I am we have gender identity protected but I don't believe expression is included and I see that as the problem just like you do but for a different reason. Most people here treat it like it does include gender expression and that it does extend all the rights to all the different groups. Just like you would prefer to label me your back stabber in turn you have been mine. I am simply the messenger you know the one you love to shoot.

Actually, what I did at that time was walk away and vow I'd never, ever have further contact with you. I would never have outted you anywhere, nor do I even know your full last name, anyway. If that has happened to you, then you're mistaken as to the source.

Your right Mercedes you didn't out me by name per se but you did attribute those comments to amym440 and that is part of who I am just like dented blue mercedes is part of who you are. The thing is my voicing my opinion even if it hurt you at the time wasn't violating the forums rules but placing my post outside I believe was. You may not like what I have to say and inturn I may not like what you have to say sometimes but we do have the right to voice those opinions in an open forum just like this. However painful you might find my post it is out there and running away from it won't undo it.As for my part in it I'm all grown up and if I have to take some lumps for it so be it. But as far as my being the first to pull the HRC card you might want to look at all the States that don't include gender expression. You might also want to stop and think by creating a separate class like gender expression you are doing the very thing you are accusing me and others of doing creating another class.Your voice is valuable, now if you'd just realize mine and everyone else you might disagree with are also valuable we might actually get somewhere.None of us are so far apart that we can't find compromise it just takes a willingness to do it and not expecting the other side to do all the bending.

Nope. I didn't do that either. If you're claiming otherwise, then show the link. This is the first time I ever said anything that connected this nick to what happened before.

That's all well and good about compromise, but when the folks who lose out from that compromise aren't a part of that decision, then we're just repeating the mistakes of the past.

And BTW, I'm not creating a class for gender expression, I'm saying it should be included since gender identity is being used too narrowly to include that, even by trans people.

Mercedes I can't show you what doesn't exist anymore but I can show you this. I would be willing to bet that I have made over a thousand comments in the past maybe even thousands most cannot be found anymore.Neither can most of the comments others have made about me or my comments. As far as a rift or nick or whatever you want to call it, it doesn't exist on my end and when all this did happen I expressed my displeasure and moved on with the knowledge thanks to you that there were other places on the web other than just that group. Also you are the one that brought up hard feelings not me remember your Julius Cesar moment.As for the bathroom issue I felt I offered a good idea for a commercial that didn't carry any unwanted labels and effectively challenged religious conservatives.
Like the first time you brought up the "Rift" I am realizing there are other places on the web and in life to place my thoughts. Also I am coming to realize you are right that more T's should be out. I am also coming to understand that being out means I get to choose how I wish to talk about T issues and to whom. My mother has even recomended that I go on a talk show you know I'm really beginning to think it wouldn't be such a bad idea Could make for a really interesting comments section after the show and I get to let the whole world know that the word Transgender is really insulting to many T's.

You wrote:

"I don't like the trans sticker idea, at all. It gives the impression that people are sneaking into restrooms."

It says "we were always here." Or at least it should. There's no finalized design, yet.

The problem is that just using logic and reason has failed. It has failed because a core segment is unwilling to listen, and has turned the volume up so loud that nobody else can hear reason either.

There comes a time when we need to be creative, and in people's faces. But being too visible can backfire too, so I see this as a way to be visible and invisible at the same time. To make the point that we've always been here, and it's never been an issue.