I recently had a conversation with a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant and now Southern Baptist Minister. He asserted two claims which I address below. The first was that trans people should have separate accommodations with regards to restrooms. The second was that being transgender is a choice or mental condition as opposed to a phenomenon which happens in utero or infancy.
My issue with a 3rd bathroom solution is multi fold:
1. I don't identify as a 3rd gender. I identify as a woman. A woman who happens to be trans. Much like a woman who happens to be tall or a woman who happens to be black. Now how I ended up this way is up for much debate but here I am now. Not capital T transgender but a woman who is transgender.
2. This is clearly discrimination. What happens when a passing trans person has to out themselves every time they have to pee. It's a scarlet A, perhaps a scarlet toilet. It furthers a stigma and could potentially lead to violence towards a group of people.
3. The obvious logistical issues. Would businesses be expected to build 3rd restrooms? What about those that don't? What about federal agencies that don't or can't? Trans men and women are different. Should we make a separate bathroom for each? Are we suggesting that every establishment with restrooms should have 4 distinct bathrooms? And if so are we doing this for an incredibly small community and one I might mention who has never had a reported case of sexual abuse in a restroom?
Now I'm going to take a liberty here. And if it feels offensive then I would ask you to remember those feelings. In America we have had zero reported cases of trans people assaulting women or children in the bathrooms. But we are suggesting a separate restroom to protect folks from trans people. In America we have had several reported cases of church clergy assaulting women and children. If our concern is the safety of women and children wouldn't it be appropriate to make a separate restroom for church clergy?. If you are offended you should be. The notion is preposterous. To suggest that because SOME pastors and priests have molested young boys we should keep ALL clergy away from them in the restroom. But trans women have ZERO reported cases and we are being told to pee somewhere else. If it's really about safety why do we not make a separate restroom for sex offenders? While the whole world is wondering which bathroom I will go into in Target, a sex offender can walk into the men's room in the same store and molest a child. So is the concern really safety? Or do I just give people the willy's? I suspect we are headed towards the argument that pedophiles and perverts can use people like me to get into the bathroom...I live in Colorado. We have had transgender inclusive restroom laws for 8 years here. In 8 years the first reported case of a man dressing up as a woman to go into a restroom happened yesterday. Yep, yesterday. It was an evangelical Christian man protesting target. He went in there to make a point. So I come back to restrooms for church clergy...still just kidding reverend :)
In regards to when and how transgender people develop their gender identity:
I absolutely believe that being transgender is a condition which happens in utero. Most likely between week 15 and 20 of pregnancy during what is commonly referred to as the androgen wash.
It's well known that biological sex is determined by chromosomes at the moment of conception and this causes a rush of hormones which start development. 4 months later a second hormone wash happens and is believed to be part of what forms many things, very likely including gender identity (which is very different from gender expression which is learned). This is probably where other phenomenon such as autism spectrum disorders also develop but more on that another time. The point is that more and more doctors and scientists are finding evidence that supports this theory The second theory would be that this happens in the infant stages. It's far less likely as we see trans people from all circumstances and walks of life. In my case I knew that I was transgender as early as when I was 8 years old. It has been something that I have carried, ignored, sought therapy for, prayed about for well over two decades BEFORE deciding to come out and transition. I am not arguing that this phenomenon is rare and not "supposed to happen" I am simply stating that I believe the gender identity of a Trans person is every bit as real and unchangeable as the gender identity of a cisgender person". It's not convenient. It's not the "standard" but in the paradigm that I am describing and subscribe too it's also not a choice nor is it something that can be changed. I will contend that we are probably looking from two different paradigms, two different world views. And because of those fundamental differences we will likely refute one another's beliefs. That's ok. So what does this mean for me? Well this means that my mind was developed from a pre-birth stage to see myself as female, regardless of whether that should have happened or not. Now we have a problem. My brain says girl (this is not "mental" this is neurobiological) and my body clearly says something different. Now, if we can't rewire my brain...and we can't...and leaving the two out of alignment creates severe depression and worse...well then something has to be done. What current medical guidelines suggest are that the only remaining option is to align my body with my mind...my brain. So I make my body fit my identity. Again I identify as a woman. So hormones, surgeries, legal changes, all help me to feel like my body matches what my brain has known my whole life. Yep clothes and makeup and other things come with it. Now, the crazy thing. I've had a lifetime of learning a masculine gender expression. Remember I said that's learned. So yep, I identify as a woman and my body is coming into alignment but some aspects of my gender expression may still be masculine. For instance, I'm still in the infantry. Some interesting concepts to be sure. The idea that gender identity is formed before birth or at the very latest maybe within infancy and of no control to any of us. The idea that all gender identity is valid, equal and unchangeable regardless of the body which we are given. The concept that aligning the body is more practical than living a life of depression or worse. These happen to be ideas that I subscribe too. Modern medicine and science support many of my beliefs and I hope with time that they can be proven definitively. Although that's a scary thought. What if I'm right here? Follow me on this. What if gender identity is all I said? Now what if we figured out how to predict this after conception but before birth? Would people abort trans babies? Would they reject this science and force their children to try and live a life their mind couldn't accept? Or would we allow our children to be themselves right from the beginning? Would we as Christians accept that while God doesn't make mistakes, there are a lot of things that go wrong (even with infants) and that we should love this child of God even if they are different?
I don’t have those answers. Who knows if we ever will? What I do know is that I was given one life to live. I lived half of it fighting my own feelings about who I was. And now I have a chance to live an authentic life and as a Christian use my testimony to reach others.
"Nothing is too girly and nothing is too masculine. But I do love color, and maybe that's a little girly - especially pink." Stacy London