By George Templeton
Fractured We and the Bathroom Conundrum
Fractured We and the Bathroom Conundrum
The relationships of gender identity were shown in the comedy movies Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman and Mrs. Doubtfire with Robin Williams. They reveal its malleability. They were not about a permanent, innate and consistent behavior rooted in the mind or that some feel that they don’t belong in the body they were born into.
It’s different than the slippery slope alleging that our Federal Government authorizes any curious fourteen year old boy to use the girl’s rest room. We have serious laws about sexual assault, and this isn’t that. Transgender people are not imposters intending to deceive unsuspecting girls.
A “cisgender” person’s sex matches their birth certificate, their biological genome, their bodies, and their personal identity. It does not depend on appearances, orientation, mental, or physical characteristics. By this definition, everyone of an original gender group is and always remains the same. Laws based on this assumption guarantee problems because they require a manly female to use the woman’s rest room. They are self-referential because they create the problem they are supposed to fix. They exist within the tension between narrow legal precedent and broad morality.
Some people are born differently. They would have to prove what they are. What they look, act, and sound like is not enough. If you are different, they’ve got you trapped, identified as one of those people.
Transgender people can’t feel comfortable unless they use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Otherwise, they would be viewed as “out of place” and could be harassed by laws requiring them to prove their gender. What does one do if they don’t look male or female according to expectations or were born with blurred characteristics? What if they are a female muscle builder or a long haired male? Rock Hudson, the manly movie star, was gay. He did not look that way.
It is part of election politics. New state laws would roll back and prohibit anti-discrimination policies in employment, the public square, the marketplace, and municipalities. The law is authoritative, taking away personal responsibility. It implies that it represents the “will of the American people”, so why should anyone buck the tide?
John Kavanagh, Arizona Republican, introduced a 2013 restroom bill that would have prevented transgender people from using the restroom of their chosen gender identity, but it failed before reaching Governor Brewer. Now conservative lawyers in the deep pocketed Arizona Alliance Defending Freedom are manufacturing problems by writing laws for state legislators that divide Americans. They are interested in “reasonable” fees and want people to be able to sue for $2500 plus psychological and emotional damages resulting from seeing a person who does not belong. The police must cringe at the likelihood of being swamped by calls from hysterical girls. Lawyers are the only winners when the states, Federal government, and people who have always got along in the past sue each other.
Now’s Their Chance
This hullabaloo could be a reaction to “legislation from the bench”, allowing gay marriage. Strict conservatives will never be able to accept that.
Some folks are deeply worried about the possibility of inappropriate exposure to the opposite sex. State’s rights mean this can play out differently depending on the situation. It matters whether bathroom policies result in discrimination at schools receiving federal funding or whether you might be called upon to “Show me your ….” to use a public bathroom. Some state regulations would go so far as to require you to dress according to the sex shown on your birth certificate.
Pat Robertson depersonalizes transgender people, forgetting that the last will be first. He claims a greater discrimination against the bulk of the American people will occur if there aren’t laws that roll back LGBT protections.
The TV preacher explained to this enthralled mega-congregation that if you had doubts about all the animals coming out of Noah’s ark and the sun and moon stopping at the battle of Jericho, you were persecuting his tribe. It was an unconstrained supernatural war with liberals, and his congregation would be either in the light or dark. There could be no in-between. His religious freedom required you to have no doubt that God did not make those kinds of people.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, reaches further from the Bible than any justice when he chastises his opposition saying, “For them, truth is all relative. There is no absolute truth anymore, so they can bend the rules and twist it however they want to push their agenda.”
There Is No Doubt about It
God’s laws are revealed in the simplest things. In power electronics, a good question is, where does the energy go? Conservation of energy is fundamental to the ac current we have in our homes and it manifests itself in motors, transformers, power supplies, and the complex math that describes ac power by separating stored energy from losses. It is in the earth and moon’s motions and how they appear from our frame of reference. The sun does not move around the earth. The earth’s mass, orbital, and rotational motions contain a lot of energy. It does not make sense that God would choose only one time to violate his own laws as a publicity stunt.
How we know anything at all is a very old question going back to the beginnings of philosophy. Most people think that we can intuitively know the concept of identity. Descartes claimed, “I think, therefore I am.” It becomes increasingly unclear as we move away from such simple ideas.
The ancient Greeks gave us the logic that mathematics and rational thought are based upon. We once thought that it was the path to understanding and absolute truth, but not anymore. Math is a universal language, coming from geometry. It is a way of thinking that is much more than just a set of repeated boring operations.
The gambling casino works because of the mathematics of expectation, but that is based on independent events that are equally probable, can be intuitively identified, and are countable. There are “after the fact” tests for randomness, shown by the bell curve, but they do not have complete certainty.
When nature imperfectly aims at a target, the bell curve emerges in the long run. It is the link between intuition and experience, between thought and observation. Probability helps us, because it bounds the uncertain. Statistics are an abstraction, especially when they concern polls, people, and pills. It is the individuals that are real.
To make use of the statistical functions of the bell-curve’s random variable is to in some way know them. They are numbers that can’t be known, but to know that they can’t be known is to know them. It goes in circularity, round and round, regenerating and paradoxically feeding back. Our thoughts are self-referential and incomplete, containing ambiguity that denies an absolute truth.
The distinction between truth and belief is blurred in books written by PHD philosophers who see no difference. You can believe anything you want to. It is only in the simplest relationships, like the conservation of energy, that truth can be separated from belief. The deeper reality is that self-referential ambiguity is precisely what unites us in faith. In a way, this partly justifies Mr. Perkins contention, but it cannot fix the transgender bathroom dilemma.
The ancient Greeks had communal baths and toilets, often with no privacy. Their culture viewed gender in terms of relationships instead of body parts. Could it be that they were partly right?
Greek baths reflected a culture answering to technology that had no sewers, plumbing, and little understanding of disease. Two thousand years later those problems have gone away, but many reality demons remain.
In India, tens of millions of people have no bathroom. It is not the focus of the bathroom leading to sexual assault, but its lack.
An old-fashioned bathroom in China consisted of a bare concrete floor that slopes toward a hole in the middle, with a garden hose to accomplish the flushing. People who can’t squat were discriminated against.
In contrast, the expensive Tokyo hotel had a toilet that was so complicated that you needed to consult the user’s manual before going.
Where I grew up, some families were still using out-houses. They were not heated. The better ones had two holes and a seat that you sat on. No flushing was necessary.
The overseas night club had a second floor urinal. It splashed into the open sewer along the street below. It works well in places where it often rains.
The only restroom at the tropical train station had a twenty foot plugged latrine that was overflowing leaving urine everywhere to ankle depth. There was no cooling and it was 110 degrees with near 100 percent humidity. The only ventilation was a tiny window at the far end, about the size of a sheet of paper. The sun shone through it revealing a green fog that condensed and dripped from everything.
It’s not nice! In Europe, they put bathtubs in hotel rooms but not commodes. There was only one, serving all the hotel rooms, and it was located one hundred yards through the snow, outside, containing barely enough room for one person. There was no problem with voyeurism, but you could be attacked traveling between your room and the toilet.
When I told the waitress, put lots of hot sauce on those tacos, I made a mistake that would hit me three quarters of the way between Seattle and Yuma. Thank God, the roadside rest area had a toilet. Imagine my dismay when I found that it was filled with feces extending two feet above the toilet seat and there were beer cans imbedded in what was like a large pile of modeling clay.
Then, there is the only rest-stop between Phoenix and Payson, closed for years, leaving just the road side bushes.
What Really MattersWe have selected leaders who would destroy what has always worked, and what we should appreciate, just to divide us. It’s time to let them go. Sanitation, health, and availability matter more and are less expensive than the inherent discrimination of creating special bathrooms for fuzzy classifications of misunderstood human beings.