Trans Accommodations Require Reasonableness

Regarding the Washington Post story A question for schools: Which sports teams should transgender students play on?, one could be blithe and say that social conservatives claim sexual orientation is a choice but gender isn’t (the anti-LGBT Minnesota Child Protection League stated that in terms of school policies there are no “accommodations made for those who believe that gender is a biological and genetic reality, not a social choice”).

Of course the social conservatives have got this wrong: transgender youth and their advocates are not claiming that gender is a choice; the issue is whether to be true to one’s inherent gender when it does not correspond to the body’s physical reality.

But this doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues of what constitutes reasonable accommodation in locker rooms and showers, especially in schools—and the case isn’t helped by incidents such as this one, in which a transwoman who is biologically male asserted a right to change in the women’s locker room at Evergreen State College in Washington and “Angry parents contacted the police after a young girl saw the transgender student naked inside the locker room,” according to local news reports. Reasonableness goes both ways.

Which reminds me of how New York City decided a few years back not to proceed with allowing a private firm to install individual self-cleaning restroom kiosks (popular in European cities) because they would not be large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, with the result that no New Yorker gained the benefit of this service. Or, for that matter, the argument that better no anti-discrimination law for LBGT people than one that would provide an exemption for religious organizations. I could go on, but you get the point.

9 Comments for “Trans Accommodations Require Reasonableness”

  1. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on

    Well, ‘what’s between the legs might be relevant in terms of male vs female restrooms.

    Unisex bathrooms are popular in Europe and in parts of Asia and Latin America.

    I am not sure how many transgender people are wheel chair bound, but I suspect that the EU has probably addressed the issue.

  2. posted by Aubrey Haltom on

    The issue is a real one – how do we as a society define “reasonableness”. But the news station that is linked here is an example of why we don’t have ‘reasonable’ discussions re: these matters.

    In fact, after trying (for a few minutes) to slog through google and see what happened in this incident, I find 2 things:

    1. the ‘facts’. A transgendered woman, 45 years old and pre-op, was asked to leave the swimming pool at ESC after a 17-year old female complained to her mother upon seeing the older woman naked in the sauna. (i.e., penis exposure!) The transgendered person was asked to leave. She in turn complained that this act (her removal from the locker room/sauna) went against state law.

    2. the sensationalism. Try finding any article that doesn’t (almost) immediately go for the jugular – stoking the fear of pedophiles coming in and doing something to innocent little girls. Miller’s link does much of the same. The news station leads with a conservative org’s spokesman ratcheting up the indignation and fear.

    It’s a very complicated matter. It’s a bit ironic that this happened at Evergreen State. I know Evergreen State College. My husband and brother went to Reed College (in Portland, OR) – and there was an active relationship between the 2 schools. A very good friend also graduated from ESC.

    To the school’s credit, it tried to accommodate both parties (the girl and the woman) – and didn’t back down when some conservative groups went on the attack. And perhaps working out the details as best it could is a good way to start a debate on what “reasonableness” entails.

    We won’t get to any ‘reasonableness’ if we can’t discuss issues such as this in a ‘reasonable’ manner.

    btw – the school set up ‘privacy curtains’ in the women’s locker room. The school admitted this was not necessarily the ideal solution, but it was a workable one…

  3. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    SCOTUSBlog just reported: “This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference. Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.”

    It is just a matter of time, now. I’ll bet that this will be all over by the late Spring.

  4. posted by Houndentenor on

    Yes, reasonableness would be welcome in our public discourse. Unfortunately we have too many politicians and media hacks who want to scream the most vile nonsense and drown out any attempt at a reasonable discussion of these issues. Couldn’t the kiosks be made large enough to accommodate those in wheelchairs? That would be the reasonable response. It’s really not that hard to work out a compromise in which everyone gets what they need, if not everything they want. We don’t get that any more because in every discussion there is at least one party/group that doesn’t want any compromise at all and often simple wants to demonize another party/group to pander to their supporters. Are trans people actually being unreasonable at the moment? Most I know are extra careful so they don’t get the crap beat out of them just for existing.

  5. posted by Mike in Houston on

    The incident that Stephen references has been debunked thoroughly.

    It was a hoax… and one that has been (like others) whipped up into a meme — buttressed by folks like Stephen who couldn’t be bothered to go beyond the headlines (which if really was all that serious, don’t you think that there would have been a follow-up report or two? And not just the Alliance Defending Freedom talking points).

    • posted by Doug on

      Keep pandering to the extreme right, Stephen, and now you have just shown yourself to be a complete a**.

    • posted by craig123 on

      the incident that Stephen references has been debunked thoroughly.

      Er, not quite. The Transadvocate article claims the teens could not see into the sauna and the transwoman was not walking around naked. That’s a mitigating point of sorts, if true, but everyone agrees that the pre-op transwoman was in the sauna draped in a towel (so obviously she undressed in the locker room), raising many of the issues that are still debatable. And Mike and Doug show themselves again to be trolling this site with no intention other than insulting the blogger. Get a life, boys.

    • posted by Aubrey Haltom on

      I don’t see this as a hoax. Rather, as the Transadvocate article notes (and I mentioned in previous comment) – the news sources covering this incident all tend to sensationalize it. The Transadvocate author went for the most glaring example (Fox News) as an example of that sensationalism.

      But nowhere is there any denial of the basic facts – a transgendered individual was in the College Women’s Locker sauna, a minor (17-yr old girl) saw this person (who is pre-op) and reported that there was a man in the women’s locker.

      I think the reason we haven’t heard any further stories on this incident is due to Evergreen’s approach. They implemented an accommodation (privacy curtains) to address the concerns of parents and those uncomfortable with the situation, noted that the transgendered person had every right to be there, and then went on with the business of educating their students.

      No one else complained.

      ps I found the Transadvocate article to be problematic. Rather than note the concern that is being expressed by parents (and kids) – they seem to deny its existence by noting that the sauna was a separate area in which minors weren’t allowed. As a previous comment noted – these are mitigating details to the original sensationalized story. But definitely not a “hoax”.

  6. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on

    If she was prepping to have the gender reassignment surgery, it should be noted that one of the medical rules or preconditions is that the person spend a set time living as the gender he or she plans to become prior to approval for surgery.

    In Iight of the Medical process and rules involved, A male to female transgender person (pre surgery) may not be able to simply use the men’s room until surgery.

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