Guyon: Transgender Rights

May 18, 2016

Years ago in San Francisco, I knew a lot of people who were transgender, only we didn’t call it such back then.

Most only dressed according to their self identity in certain neighborhoods, clubs or situations where they knew they wouldn’t be harassed and could just be themselves. The rest of the time - at work, with family - their attire corresponded with that oh-so-powerful birth certificate.

Back then, my pals and I often went to gay dance clubs not only because they had great music but because we weren’t hit on every two minutes. Very often, trans women would join the rest of us in the long line for the women’s restroom, because that’s where they felt they belonged. They identified themselves as female - and many had since grade school.

Over the years, I’ve found members of the trans community, in general, to be caring and kind, with a sensitivity to others that’s relatively rare. Once, in fact, when I was being hassled by a man, a trans woman helped me by pulling the guy away. Then she walked me to my car.

What the debate gets down to is that some people don’t want male-born/transgender women to use women's restrooms since they may still possess the physical ability to commit sexual assault. But I expect these same people would be equally upset if someone with a beard and broad shoulders were to use a women’s restroom.

And the truth is that there are plenty of burly female-born/transgender people living their lives as men because that is their self-identity. Some choose to have gender-reassignment surgery, some don’t, but they look, sound and behave as men. The reverse scenario – a male-born transgendered person in a dress, heels and make-up going into a men's restroom looking 100% female might be less threatening to any men present, but she might feel threatened if she’s treated with hostility by the guys in there.

When transgender people endure hardships like being misunderstood, confronted, and even persecuted - in order to honor who they know they are, they must surely develop a sense of human understanding, respect and compassion that many non-transgender folks can’t even begin to fathom.

I think it’s clear that supporters of the bathroom bill haven’t really thought this through. Business owners, government security, school officials and the like would have a sociological nightmare on their hands.

Even worse, many good people would be forced to live very likely frightening and inauthentic lives.