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Sunday Poll: Should Transgender Persons Be Free To Use The Public Restroom That Matches Their Gender Identity?

July 3, 2016 Featured, Sunday Poll 27 Comments
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A little local history about gender-related issues before I get into today’s poll:

July 6, 1916

The commissioner of parks and recreation proclaimed that the new plan for the city’s swimming pools was a success: ladies were to swim in the morning hours and men in the afternoon and evenings. Homeowners in the neighborhood of Fairground Park had complained that the mixing of the sexes in an informal atmosphere at the swimming pool might attract undesirables. The disapproving residents were joined by members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy. 

In spite of official and clerical sanction, the city’s director of public welfare called the plan a failure. Attendance, especially of women, had fallen off considerably. Newspapers made light of the situation, suggesting that if a gentleman wanted ri take HER swimming, he’d better try the Meramec. Common sense and the emergence of women as full citizens resulted in the later opening of municipal pools to men and women, boys and girls, together, with no disastrous consequences.  (Source: St. Louis Day by Day by Frances Hurd Stadler, pp: 127-128)

A century later the issue is about those who are transgender — physically born as one gender, but identifying as the other. So we have the transgender bathroom debate, the subject of today’s poll:

The poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "27 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mark-AL says:

    I belong to the Y because I work out daily in whatever city I find myself. Membership usually gives me universal access all over the US. Often YMCA and fitness center toilet rooms and showers are located beyond the locker room, so that anyone who uses the restroom has to first walk through the locker room. Some men walk around the locker room without any apparent concern for personal modesty. (And I grew up on a farm and am not uncomfortable with anatomy, bodily functions, etc) So anyone using the locker room–or walking through it to use the restroom–can’t avoid seeing whatever happens to be going on at the time. I wouldn’t appreciate having one of these male exhibitionists in action in the female dressing room if my wife were walking through the locker room at the time. Nor would I want my 10 year old daughter (if I had one) seeing some of the “excessive nakedness” that happens in SOME dressing areas. Three or four months ago, I walked into a Y locker room in Seattle, and a nude overweight man was sitting on the bench, facing the locker room entrance spread eagle, with his foot on the bench trimming his toe nails. Not a pretty sight for anyone to have to see–especially my trans-gendered child if I had one.

    • The policy varies from region to region, but at least some YMCAs do allow people to use the locker room that matches their gender. See http://q13fox.com/2015/12/21/transgender-community-stands-by-new-ymca-policy/

      They go unnoticed. If they used the locker room that matched their birth gender people would be upset.

    • JZ71 says:

      I’d be far more concerned with a sexual predator, of the same gender, looking at my child than I would be with my child seeing a naked adult with some “wrong” body parts exposed. Most 10 year olds don’t care whether it’s a female breast or a man boob they’re seeing in the flesh, and if they are interested, odds are they’ll be finding all they want, and more, on the interwebs . . . just like you and I did with the “dirty” magazines of our day!

      • Mark-AL says:

        We all raise our kids as we see fit. And our kids give daily feedback to validate or invalidate our approach. My wife and I try to integrate the Roman Catholicism of our youth that we quietly assimilated into our lives in an area of the country that is predominately Baptist. I believe strongly in personal modesty. And I believe that there are certain norms and boundaries that should be respected and preserved as we expose our kids to human sexuality. I’m convinced that premature exposure to trans-gendered or partially trans-gendered human body should be restricted to venues where children are not present…..just as exposure to “dirty” magazines should be avoided during those years when a child is developing sexually. I personally limit my boys’ exposure to the internet….just as I’d do if I had a girl. What possible advantage is there, when they’re developing a healthy sexual self-image, to place the idea in their head that all real men sport a 9″ penis or that if a girl wants to be attractive, she has to wear a 40 D bra size yet maintain a 20″ waist? I don’t allow my two older sons to wear provocative clothing. If I had a young daughter, I’d do the same. I encourage my three sons to fully engage in academics, sports and the fine arts..and to contribute to the household by taking responsibilities for household chores. And so at the end of the day, they really have little time left for internet porn, which is unavailable both at home and at their school. And I know their friends and friends’ parents. I don’t want a trans-gendered individual parading around a dressing room or even modestly changing his-her clothes next to my 16 year old son. And I’d be in favor of raising the monthly dues at the Y and at every other gym, public and private pool, and at all other venues where a conflict may occur, so that management could afford to redesign dressing and shower rooms to provide totally private toilet areas, dressing and shower rooms exclusively. If these private facilities were mandated, there would be no reason to declare a trans-identity, but then the obscurity may not satisfy the material motivation of the movement, imo. Social experimentation can be dangerous.

        • Micaela G says:

          Mark, my friend, I want to make sure you understand that I’m not trying to hurt your feelings here…so please take this as my non-confrontational opinion. First, I wholly support our First Amendment rights to free exercise and I commend you on instilling morals and values in your children, many of today’s youth are not so lucky. Additionally, thank you for sharing your beliefs…I appreciate diversity and though we don’t share similar views on this matter it is important for everyone to be able to be heard. Now I whole-heartedly want to address the comments you make in reference to my body being akin to porn. This is not something new and many transgender people lose their lives every year because people tend to sexualize us (much like cis-women experience). My body is no different than yours or your wife’s. Have your children ever taken a bath or shower with you? What makes your body parts less offensive than mine…or even offensive at all?

          I also want you to know that your teenage boys, if not already, will find and see porn…no matter what measures you take to prevent it. You are doing a great job at teaching them lessons…rather than hide sexuality from them, why not try to teach them what is respectable and acceptable with regard to how women and transgender individuals should be treated….RESPECTFULLY. Your mention of the fine arts then brings in the principle that your young boys are looking at paintings from many of the masters. The subjects in a great deal of those pieces have exposed genitalia and are still considered modest (as they were in fact commissioned by the Catholic Church).

          Lastly, yet by far most importantly, you said, “I’m convinced that premature exposure to trans-gendered or partially trans-gendered human body should be restricted to venues where children are not present.” I would argue that religions and religious beliefs should be restricted to venues where there teachings don’t offend others. They shouldn’t be in politics…why…because we don’t all follow the same faith (if any faith at all). They shouldn’t be in schools…why…because churches, temples, and synagogues etc. are for religious teachings. They shouldn’t be platforms of discussion by which my civil liberties are censored or revoked…why…because I am an American and I live in a secular country where we are all supposed to be treated equally. Attempting to sequester me and make those like me feel like second-class citizens also has detrimental effects. Maybe not that you would experience, but let me close with this postulation: “What if one of your boys came to you tomorrow and revealed that they were transgender, how would you personally treat them, and how would you want society to treat them?”

        • JZ71 says:

          One, I don’t have any kids, nor do I personally know any transgendered people, so this is more of an intellectual (and less of a personal) issue, to me. Two, I am no fan of passing laws that sound good on paper but are virtually impossible to enforce in the real world – see bans on texting while drive, spitting on the sidewalk or jaywalking. Three, I expect my government to protect me from physical harm, not to “protect” me (or my relatives) from ideas I don’t want them to hear or things that I don’t want them to see. Four, if the Y, as a private club, wants to restrict access, that’s one thing, but if it’s like the Y, here, where they’re operating city-funded rec centers, no. Five, making anything “secret” or “dirty” or “weird” just increases most kid’s curiosity. And six, my sister, who has values much closer to yours than mine, chose to home-school all seven of her kids, to protect them from the evil influences of the secular world, and one has already come out as gay. Bottom line, I understand that you want to protect your kids, but in this online and diverse world, I don’t see where that’s possible, so it makes more sense prepare them for the surprises, instead of working to prevent them from ever happening.

          • Mark-AL says:

            Home schooling isn’t an option on our end because we don’t want to segregate the boys from their friends and classmates, including limiting their opportunities to engage in sports and orchestra. Plus, we can’t compete academically with the kids’ teachers; we know that, and we aren’t interested in trying. But we can place the kids in an environment where they are exposed in moderation to most of life’s challenges, questions, issues, in that the floodgates are not suddenly opened in their world. It’s the floodgate syndrome that I object to. Our family arrived in Palermo at 4 AM by train one morning and all three boys and I walked in on an act of oral copulation in a public restroom. It happens, and it’s part of life, but far different from exposing them to the reality of same-sex oral sex that may occur in a male bath house. That’s my point.

          • JZ71 says:

            I’m guessing that this was two “normal” males, not any of those transgendered ones. And I’m guessing that this is just as much against the law in Palermo as it is here. And I’m guessing that you didn’t search out the police nor dial their version of 911.

            I’ll repeat, there’s little point in passing laws that will be rarely, if ever, enforced, on highly-unlikely scenarios, just so a minority of the population won’t have to risk being “offended”. Unless you’re willing to fund a new entity (similar to the TSA) to do invasive body searches on everyone (including you and your kids) before anyone is allowed to enter any public locker room (to confirm “correct” genitalia), all you’re advocating for is a law that will be used by busybodies to harass people who look or act differently than themselves!

          • Mark-AL says:

            I’ve never used the adjective “normal” to describe those who are not transgendered.

            I’ve never advocated an initiative to body search anyone.

            I’ve never referenced “correct” genitalia.

            I’ve never even suggested harassment of any kind, nor have I ever suggested that my position is even remotely associated with being a ‘busybody’–in whatever way that noun relates to anything I’ve ever said!!!!

            To answer your “guess” posed in your first sentence: I’m guessing these males were gay.
            But I suppose they could have been straight males, just experimenting at 4 AM. And then there’s a possibility that they were transgendered, one or the other–or even both. I didn’t ask or care.

            And yes, public oral copulation is against the law in Palermo.

          • JZ71 says:

            You’re parsing my words and avoiding my fundamental point – the only way to limit access, to any place, is for a business or property owner, public or private, to do so, with some law to back them up. And unless the laws are enforced, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

            The problem with any law that questions gender and/or orientation is that the only way to know, for sure, is to do an inspection (much like x-raying post-tensioned concrete). And given our country’s preference to not discriminate based on stereotypes, the only way to implement such a program would be to replicate the TSA model of checking a large number of people in hopes of finding that rare aberration, that needle in a haystack. Unlike you, I’m willing to risk the occasional uncomfortable encounter in exchange for not being questioned and searched on a much more frequent basis!

          • Mark-AL says:

            Short of doing TSA-type checks, which I obviously don’t support, the simple way to deal with the issue is to pass legislation stating that eligibility to use public changing rooms, toilet rooms and shower facilities shall be based on the birth gender. Failure to comply will result in a fine and/or arrest. To determine compliance is fairly simple. If they’re sporting a penis in the women’s shower room, they’re not in compliance. If they’ve already altered/eliminated their birth gender genitals, etc, then who’s the wiser? They’ll (likely) quietly encroach and without fanfare on the opposite sex facilities–provided they’re even remotely passabIe. I would like to have been born with a 190 IQ, the son of a wealthy landowner. But I wasn’t. I’ve learned to adjust. My point: if one doesn’t like his birth gender, he should have the right to change it! But he/she shouldn’t force me to make concessions to accommodate his/her decision! Maybe…..just maybe………he/she should rightfully be expected to use PRIVATE changing, toilet and shower facilities, That’s the simple solution, but simple solutions are often much too quiet.

          • JZ71 says:

            Great, in theory, extremely difficult to enforce, in reality . . . “911, what is your problem?” “Somebody with the wrong body parts is in the shower at the Y.” “Um, OK, we’ll be right over?”

    • Micaela G says:

      Mark, I completely recognize your apprehension, but want to point out a very crucial piece of information. Those “male exhibitionists” act that way because they feel completely comfortable in their skin, transgender people…like myself…are not so lucky. I go to great lengths to cover up and hide
      “those areas” because they cause me mental anguish and a great deal of pain. Additionally, I am not going to feel uncomfortable seeing naked men or naked women as I am an adult and have seen many natural bodies in my time. We as Americans place too high a stigma on the naked human form and I actually think that might be a more important issue to focus on, “Why is it discomforting for Americans to see a nude male?” I singled out men in this because, let’s be honest, nobody is arguing over Transmen in the men’s room. Except for in your post, to which I would say let the transmen decide if they want to enter.

      • Mark-AL says:

        “…..you’re not uncomfortable seeing naked men or women as you’re an adult…” My kids aren’t adults. They’re maturing.

        The human, naked form is not the issue. Sure, my kids see it in many art forms. And I’m not denying that they see it on the internet…and at the gym. But porn cannot be equated with nudity. Porn places an emphasis on the sensational aspects of an otherwise non-sexual subject and sensationalizes a compulsive interest by the viewer, for the sole purpose of sexual arousal. Repeated exposure to porn destroys marriages and other monogamous relationships. A man becomes a tramp, in search of something better and more sexually appealing. A wife often cannot compete. Sex becomes animal performance….hop on, get off, hop off! Just like a goat! But read my post. I didn’t liken exposure to a trans-gendered body to porn. I suggested that children, in my opinion, should not be exposed to a trans-gendered body, just as they should not be exposed to internet porn………………And I’ll add to that list: I wouldn’t deliberately expose them to smoking or drunken behavior ….or to sexual acts even between married or other heterosexual couples, or to the gay scene, or to the NRA. And I wouldn’t expose them to a gym where excessive nudity is the norm. They’ll experience these things, if at all, as they mature, become more experienced and/or if they express an interest. At this time in their young lives, I’ll restrict my roll to exposing them to status-quo.And to answer your question, I think any good parent will support his kids’ life-style choices, whether or not those choices rank among a list of the parent’s first choices. All we want for our kids is to be happy. But they need to be kids before they can become informed, happy adults living whatever lifestyle. Adulthood lasts so much longer than the age of innocence. They need to be carefully prepared, almost cultivated, so they’ll become happy, well-adjusted adults–of whatever lifestyle.

        • JZ71 says:

          And I’m guessing you’re going to protect your boys from seeing how goats make baby goats?

          • Mark-AL says:

            No, that experience is already part of their DNA. It’s natural.
            A man-woman parading around in a locker room with tits and a dick isn’t. I don’t have issues with their having both, if that’s their choice. It’s the public exposure around kids that I have issue with.

          • Sgt Stadanko says:

            Mark-AL, Your thinking is part of the problem. Maybe it would be a great way to open a dialogue with your child about transgendered people. They do exist you know. You can’t brush them aside into the darkness that they have had to be suppressed for so many years, Times, thankfully, are changing for the LGBT folks.

            Why not raise your children to be accepting and not have your archaic views?

            What if your child may grow up to be LGBT….it is possible, you know. You will make their coming to terms with it much more difficult being raised under your views. Thanks, Sarge

          • Mark-AL says:

            As I’ve stated before, probably several times, Sarge, I have no issues with gays, bi-sexuals and lesbians. They live their lives; I, mine. Seldom do our paths cross, knowingly, and when they do, unless they’re flaming, I don’t give it a second thought. And I have no issues with the transgendered. I would accept them openly as neighbors provided they are sincere and honest about their preferences. My kids have been raised to accept gays and lesbians; in fact, it’s essentially a non-issue with them. And they are acutely aware of the transgendered issues; my wife and I have discussed those issues with them on at least two occasions after they read about the recent controversy in Newsweek and had questions. My issue is that don’t want to use a public restroom or change clothes in public dressing room, sitting next to a man who dresses as a woman, especially with mixed body parts. And I certainly don’t want one of my sons showering next to a man/woman with female plumbing. Hey, why don’t we convert all restrooms, changing rooms and shower rooms to uni-sex, not just at gyms but also at grade schools and high schools, all college dorms, etc? What’s good for the goose….. And as I’ve said, if one day one of my boys announces he is gay, things won’t change. I’d want only that he live a happy, honest life. And all three know this.

          • Sgt Stadanko says:

            Mark, I apologize since it sounds like you are more open minded than I assumed. But I am having a hard time thinking if there was a transgendered person in the Y locker room that they would be an exhibitionist. Especially to children in the locker room.

            I would say a huge majority of people in a locker room are pretty discrete anyway. This overweight man that you saw was more an exception than the norm. I don’t know what his deal was but most people don’t things like that. Maybe due to his size, a towel wouldn’t fit around due to the way he was sitting?

            If you are that concerned, maybe you should accompany your child into the locker room. I think this very remote chance of your concern actually happening does not justify a whole demographic group of people being forced to use a bathroom that doesn’t match the gender that they identify with. Thanks, Sarge

          • Mark-AL says:

            No, I think a reasonable solution would be to 1) mandate that all new toilet rooms, changing rooms, shower facilities be designated “unisex”, designed to provide total privacy for the user. 2) that all existing toilet rooms with more than one waste fixture be designated “unisex” as well, modified to provide total privacy for the user. 3)) In “x” years, all male and female urinals will be either removed from all existing toilet rooms, splash/privacy walls be removed, and each urinal will be walled off (with door and lock) entirely to provide total privacy for the user. 4) Open showers and open dressing rooms shall not be allowed after “x” date. Dressing and shower facilities shall be designed to provide total privacy for the user. This would address the issue. Women would have to learn to live with piss all over the toilet seats.

            Too much money? Don’t think so! How many $millions have been directed toward ADA provisions and upgrades over the past x years? And hey, when has America ever made good decisions about spending our tax dollars or mandating building mods to accommodate any segment, however small, of our population?

          • Sgt Stadanko says:

            Well, I would be totally in favor for that as a compromise. Then nobody would be uncomfortable or marginalized. Good idea, Mark. Thanks, Sarge

  2. Sgt Stadanko says:

    The fact that this is even an issue shows how out of whack our country’s priorities are. “Land of the Free” is a joke. There are other countries that have more freedom than we do. We are free just as long it fits into the 1% & right wing’s agenda. Why is this only a problem in this country? We are becoming the laughing stocks to the international community.

    Parents so worried about their kids seeing a trans person in a restroom need a dose of reality. Your kids have more of a chance getting molested by a priest. Which ironically has been a haven for people with deep suppression of their sexual identities due to an intolerant society of which is made of these very people upset about this whole bathroom issue. Thanks, Sarge

    • Mark-AL says:

      Actually, Sarge, 4% of priests are molesters. There were 400,000 priests on the world roster last year. That means that +/- 16,000 are molesters..certainly way too many. True, some, if any, may not have been discovered. But one in 20 secular men is guilty of child molestation. Do the math: kids do not “have more of a chance getting molested by a priest.” Oh, and we should acknowledge that, just as some priests may not have been caught, the same holds true with secular men. Thanks, Sarge!



      • Sgt Stadanko says:

        Okay Mark-AL, but where are the statistics for how many Transgendered people molested a child in a public bathroom? To dispel my opinion, you need to COMPARE priests vs transgendered NOT SECULAR MEN.

        You have totally missed the point of my post and trying to turn it into something it was not.

        Why don’t you read a post before you respond? Instead of cherry-picking portions to fit into your agenda. Thanks, Sarge

        • Mark-AL says:

          Thanks for your response, Sarge. Issue: I’ve never said my objection to allowing transgendered individuals in public toilets/changing rooms had ANYTHING AT ALL to do with molestation. NEVER, Sarge! EVER, Sarge! Nor did you until this most recent post. I do read, Sarge. Very well, in fact.
          And with your post, Sarge, I didn’t “cherry-pick”. You simply made a statement that is unverifiable, if not totally untrue. Thanks, Sarge.

          • Sgt Stadanko says:

            Mark, I know your issue is about transgendered people walking around, letting it all hang out, at your local YMCA in plain view of your children.

            I brought up the molestation topic because that is one of the theories these god fearing, ultra conservative folks in SC have to support this bathroom bill. I was stating there was more a chance of a child being molested by a priest than by a transgendered person (in a public bathroom).

            I think the public at large will pretty much agree there has been a history of boys being molested by priests over the years. I have never heard of transgender folks molesting children.

            It’s funny because this is the go-to scare tactic by the religious right through the years. It was raised during gay civil rights in the 70’s and here it is being raised again. And it is totally unfounded. Thanks, Sarge

          • Mark-AL says:

            I have never personally identified with the group associated with “god-fearing”, but I grew up in a small, rural town in Alabama surrounded by good, wholesome god-fearing people, some of whom live even today behind unlocked doors and live down the street from unlocked churches 24/7. and patronize honor-system fruit and fresh-eggs stands and on-your-honor sausage fests with a donation kettle at the park entrances. In some instances, a found quarter could easily sit untouched on the counter at the town’s bank. They focus on family and family values. They’re not bad people just because they are a bit slow to carry the torch of liberalism in their conservative world.
            Reports of molestation involving priests sells rags. But if a person does the math, he soon realizes that there is a lower percentage of priests ACCUSED and CONVICTED of molestation annually than among men of the secular crowd. Blame our legal system if “conviction” doesn’t always happen when you might think it should, but please don’t associate acquittal with the priesthood. In this morning’s news, we learned that a certain political candidate got off the hook in her investigation. And as with OJ, who really knows if she was guilty or innocent of a crime? In today’s verdict, probably only the FBI and the accused. We always take the good with the bad, don’t we?
            “Religious Right” sounds almost censorious even disparaging. Like Fag, buttfucker, Nigger, Spic. What’s wrong with “politically conservative” and dropping it at that? And yes, you’re right that the political conservatives (or Religious Rights) took their sweet time to accept gays and lesbians, but you’ve got to remember that things do take time in the South….. and that the scriptures, which condemn same-sex acts, are sacred to them. Who’s to say if they’re right or wrong? And who’s to say for sure that the Old and New Testaments actually offer the final word on all things righteous and virtuous and controversial–that there isn’t a “Newer” Testament still uncovered somewhere in a yet undiscovered religious catacomb in Rome or Kyoto–one that reverses everything and declares Satan the good guy and is written so convincingly that it actually changes people’s minds and redirects their beliefs? Guess we won’t know until we’re either wearing asbestos for eternity, or drinking scotch with St. Patrick. But attitudes are slowly changing in the South, where there’s a growing acceptance (not necessarily approval) of open gay and lesbian relationships, interracial marriages, and sincere acceptance of anyone non-Baptist, including Catholics, pregnancy out of wedlock, the list is getting longer all the time. It’ll likely take a while for my old neighbors whose family has pig-farmed for the last century in Elberta to walk into an open shower at Jason’s Gym to shower alongside a guy with mixed body parts–just sayin’! But who knows what might happen next year? Probably not that! My parents’ neighbor even recently bought a “foreign” automobile, made right there in Alabama! It was a big step (forward? In reverse?) for her to give up her Mexican-assembled domestic Ford….made with Japanese, Mexican, European and (oh yes) American parts………all things just as Gary Clark Jr says it should be.


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