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Pictogram of an all gender restroom at a US college. "Anyone can use this restroom regardless of gender identity or expression" Wikipedia photo by AxelBoldt

Viewpoints: Transgender bathrooms

Viewpoints is a SpokaneFāVS feature where our writers respond to a weekly question. Readers are invited to participate by posting in the comment section below.

The Obama administration is standing behind its directive to allow public school students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. According to USA Today by invoking the sex discrimination law — Title IX, “the rules carry with them the threat of federal enforcement — including a loss of federal education funds.” Many oppose this directive, saying Obama has gone too far.

We put it to the FāVS writers.

Do you agree with The Obama Administration’s decree directing every public school in the nation to allow bathroom access on the basis of self-identity, not biological sex? Why or why not? 

Eric Blauer: A gross overreach
Eric Blauer
Eric Blauer

I oppose the the Obama Administration’s decree directing every public school in the nation to allow bathroom access on the basis of self-identity, not biological sex.

As a conservative learning libertarian, I voted for marriage equality based on my view of constitutional law and my libertarian posture toward freedom. A view that is rooted in accepting others as equal and supporting the rights of others to act as their conscience or beliefs dictate as long as they don’t infringe on other peoples rights, conscience or convictions. But to me this ‘decree’ is an example of legislating without a bench and those who are being goaded by the “you’re a hater” folks are abandoning reasonable discernment out of fear of being discriminating.
There’s a strain of cultural reimagining going on by neo-progressives that extends far beyond the admirable liberal/progressive advocacy and defense of the poor, fighting injustice and pushing for reasonable and righteous equality.
Forcing anyone to shower or use bathroom facilities with anyone who is biologically different than them is a gross overreach of the rights of one over the other. The Federal Government’s threats of using economic extortion to force states to conform to a neo-progressive interpretation of title 7 is outrageous to me.
I hope this issue goes straight to the U.S Supreme court.
The words of G.K. Chesterton echo loud in my ears when I find myself arguing for the privacy and protection of our most vulnerable.
“If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump: you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end.” -G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Matthew Sewell: A president should never have that kind of power
Matthew Sewell
Matthew Sewell

To begin bluntly, I am staunchly against President Obama’s choice (attempt, more like) to decree that all public schools on the basis of self identity, for more reasons than one, and none of which have anything to do with personal feelings toward people identifying as transgender (if you are tempted to think I’m “transphobic” or “anti-trans” please re-read the last part of that sentence).

  • First, a sitting president should never have, claim to have, or try to have that kind of power over a country like America. Do we only believe in “power of the people” when it’s convenient to us? An imposition like this one not only is rash and rooted in unsound reasoning, but sets a very, very dangerous precedent for the future. Do we only prefer a decree of this nature when it’s in agreement with our values? To say “yes” to either question, and to assume that all will be well as a result, is to live in a sad state of delusion.
  • Second, I believe this rule will only be abused, and will become a far greater headache than a balm. Using this logic, a male predator could easily enter a ladies’ restroom, and be perfectly within his rights to be present there by claiming that he identifies as a woman. This has already happened many times, and if we think it will stop, it is again a sad state of delusion we live in.
  • Finally, why the hell not just mandate that public schools additionally offer a unisex restroom? Would that not solve the same problem?

Joe Newby: It puts children in danger

Joe Newby
Joe Newby

No.  It’s perverted.

Now that I’ve done my “Silent Cal” impersonation (Google it), let me explain just a bit.

The Bible tells us that God made human beings in two primary forms — male and female; not the 71 flavors Facebook and others apparently want us all to accept.

Science also tells us that the vast majority of all humans are either born male or female.

Before being dismissed as racist, sexist, homophobic and a tool of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, common sense used to dictate that those with male parts use the men’s room while those with female parts use the ladies room.

Alas, things aren’t so simple these days, with the elimination of common sense and the refusal to accept science.  These days, anyone who thinks there are two genders are dismissed, compared to ISIS and threatened with death.  Just ask the four UCLA students who recently had the audacity to make this point at a campus event.

In its ongoing quest to fundamentally transform and destroy America, the Obama regime has to achieve two primary goals. First, it must divide Americans by any means necessary.  Second, it must codify every perversion known to man.

It has succeeded in both of those goals, leaving one to wonder what’s next?  Incest?  Pedophilia?  Bestiality?  All of the above?  Who knows?

Sadly, it has now put our children in danger.

Fortunately, I no longer have children in the public school system, but if I did, I would pull them out in a New York minute and home-school them, at least until the day common sense is allowed back in schools.

Jan Shannon: We are called to protect people from discrimination

Jan Shannon
Jan Shannon

As a Christian, pastor, mother, and grandmother, I am personally and professionally invested in this issue.

As a Christian, I try to love our neighbors as ourselves — including those who may seem different from us. Like many people, there was a time when I didn’t know what it meant to be transgender. The idea of a person being born one gender but knowing themselves to be another can sound unusual at first.  I first met a transgender person four years ago, and learned of the discrimination they face. Now I see the suffering of these folks, people whom God loves.

As a mother and grandmother, I hear the fear of those who support discriminatory bathroom legislation. Most people don’t know much about transgender folks, and new things can be scary. When we’re scared, it’s important to know the facts.  Washington law enforcement leaders and the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs say permitting transgender people to use public facilities is not a threat to anyone’s safety, and that these ‘bad bathroom bills’ will encourage strangers to confront anyone in public facilities and violate our privacy and safety. Here in Washington, this issue is near at hand. Proposed Initiative, I-1515, would roll back discrimination protections for transgender people, opening floodgates of harassment and physical harm for a community that is already marginalized and in constant danger.

As a pastor, I oppose I-1515 and all other similar legislation across the country. As a pastor, I believe that these laws discriminate against the trans community and discrimination is never OK with God.  Christians are called to protect people from discrimination, and treat others as we want to be treated. We’re all God’s children and we should all be treated equally under the law.

I fully support President Obama, and applaud his leadership on this issue. Civil rights are for all citizens, and none of us are safe until all of us are safe. I urge you all to oppose I-1515. Support Washington Won’t Discriminate.

John Hancock: Gender comes in many forms

John Hancock
John Hancock

I’m very judgmental of dogmatic, fundamentalist, opportunistic representatives that advocate legislated, public rejection and humiliation of people who have suffered plenty of such treatment already.

Here’s my thinking: Fundamentalists abhor uncertainty and ambiguity. They can’t abide it, because belief in absolutes requires certainty, unchanging interpretation and infallibility. That’s the standard by which they judge their prophets, holy books and rules to be superior. That’s the definition of fundamentalism. Beyond doubt, without error, without pragmatism, often without even kindness and feeling.

The settled issue of same-sex marriage has allowed energy to be directed toward a new, related target, making the issue of male/female bathroom assignment (coming soon to your city council) a central issue.

I think a lot of this spawns from ignorance. One good friend thinks that “transvestite” and “transgender” are synonymous. I ask, “Do you know any transgender people? Anyone with gender dissatisfaction that they’ve shared with you? If not, what’s the basis of your anger?”

Have you ever known a thick woman with really big hands, feet and whiskers? How about a childish, slight man with a soft voice and no facial hair to speak of? Did they seem like perverts to you? Sinners? Do you suppose they’ve suffered any stress in public restrooms? Employment? Family reunion? Did they choose this “lifestyle”? Would they feel welcome in your church?

Unless you’re a person who rejects science in favor of belief, it’s instructive to read about chromosomal anomalies. The simplicity of X and Y works fine in 6th grade biology, but it doesn’t describe everybody. And in the emotional world, who says you get to set the male/female standard for all Americans?

Gender comes in many forms. A transition memoir by a woman (who became a spokesperson for the movement), “Becoming a Visible Man,” speaks from her/his experience of five genders, not two. Some individuals feel somewhere on a personal continuum between unambiguous man and completely woman. The blended feelings and anatomy (far more common than doctors and parents acknowledge) of many people in-between man and woman (estimated by some at 10 percent), know that they themselves don’t fit the simple model of binary options. (Such anatomical unambiguity, with only two checkboxes, is now being called “medical status”, which seems to me legal, not medical, therefore determined by legislation, not by God) 

Another true-life book that helped me understand the experience is “Becoming Nicole,”  which is about a pair of identical twin boys who at a very early age diverge in their self-awareness. Mom and Dad respond differently. The reason this Maine family informs this national conversation is that Nick is a girl from the start, becoming one of the youngest sex-change Americans. All the arguments and current school practices (both helpful and harmful) now in the news appear in this book, including the bullying, the actions of other parents and school personnel and the necessity of lawsuits to win equal opportunity for Nick’s childhood safety and happiness. It’s heartbreaking. It’s real. Included are the stories of school policies and court battles, in which the dad finally decides to protect the happiness of both his children. The parents had plenty of beliefs, but those beliefs failed to help them understand their child. And many of the schoolmates were and remain more understanding and far kinder than their parents.

When did kindness become a politically defective and dangerous practice of the liberals?

My work in the arts and social services has included acquaintance with hundreds of skillful and unconventional people who found work they could fit in. The world I know is richer because of them. Their happiness matters, and I think they should have a chance to fit in with their own sincerity, not just the binary choice of male/female certainty.

Jesus said something like, “Get over yourself. Just love everybody. No matter what. And help them if you can. Even when it shocks your own sensibility. Only in this way can you truly know God.”

Readers, we want to hear from you too, but remind you keep the FāVS comment policy in mind: Seek out answers, move the discussion forward, assume the best in others — treat others as you would like to be treated.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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33 comments

  1. I really do not understand the opposition to allowing trans folks to safely use the correct bathroom for them. I’ve never, in a public restroom, questioned the sex or gender of the person in the stall next to me; that’s not why I’m there. The idea that people are now wondering what my genitals look like when I enter a public restroom is way more threatening to me than sharing a bathroom with another person who is just there to do their business.

    • Neal Schindler

      I’ve thought a lot about this issue. Bathroom bill supporters may say that unisex bathrooms would solve the problem, but can they practically be installed everywhere that public restrooms exist? I don’t think they can. The proposed solution of bathroom bills, then, is for trans folks, plenty of whom fully pass as the gender they identify as, to use the bathroom that does not fit their identified (and often apparent) gender. So the millions of women and girlchildren who are allegedly terrified about cis male predators exploiting trans-friendly policies for their own horrifying gain won’t feel weird about sharing bathrooms with trans men who appear just as conventionally male as Joe Newby, Eric Blauer, Matthew Sewell, and myself?

      Sometimes I feel like the “solution” that would really work for bathroom bill supporters is for trans people simply not to exist. And some bill backers either have a horribly mangled understanding of what trans means, or they don’t think transgender identity is a legitimate thing at all; they think it’s a mental disorder. Even the DSM-5, not known for hyper-progressivism, doesn’t pathologize transgender identity anymore.

      Supposedly the legalization of same-sex marriage across the board has helped to usher in this conversation about transgender identity. That it is so focused on bathrooms and fear reflects, to me, the profound immaturity of our country.

      Also, considering that four Idaho men will soon be on trial for luring a gay man to his death using an ad in an LGBT publication, I’d say some conservatives’ bitter assertion that gay and lesbian Americans have achieved every kind of equality and security they could ever need — all those “special rights” — is tragically, pathetically off the mark. Idaho doesn’t even include sexual orientation or gender identity in its hate crime laws. Embarrassing and archaic.

  2. Matthew, I really wish I could persuade you away from this argument that transgender women are preying on children in public restrooms. Even the Breitbart article you linked to doesn’t make that argument. We can disagree about this policy, but you’re pushing an indefensible idea that this population is a bunch of dangerous criminals, and that could have some terrible consequences. Please weigh that carefully.

    • I read that link too. What I saw: stories about people sneaking into bathrooms with cameras, etc. What that says: Somewhere in the world are folks who like to sexually exploit other people. Those folks will always exist and have always existed. That doesn’t mean they’re transgender. If one or more of them were, that person is not representative of all, just like one man who rapes is not representative of all.

      Laws that allow transgender people freedom to have basic human rights do not equate to legalizing rape or sexual harassment.

      • Exactly! WA has had anti-discrimination laws in place for ten years now, with no incidents, yet I keep hearing this argument. Why won’t people listen to the facts? Operating on fear is not a Christian value. Didn’t Jesus tell us, “Fear not”?

        • Neal Schindler

          Look. I have known people over the years who had serious, deep-seated political fears. I doubt anything I could say would dispel them. Getting past fear is often a very personal journey, if one even chooses to embark upon it. My paternal grandfather was afraid of non-Jews as a people group because of the horrible things some did to Jews. My dad rejected that fearful, prejudicial mindset, and I try to do the same.

          What I will say is that I hear the “don’t call me a hater!” plea from people who support bathroom bills. I’m not calling you a hater. But I would ask you to search your feelings to see if on any level you’re feeling not just fear of cis male predators exploiting trans-friendly policies but also some level of distaste toward trans folks or the concept of trans identity. It isn’t a capital crime to have internalized some of our society’s insidious prejudices, but it’s worth trying to determine to what extent we have and how it may be affecting people’s judgment and ability to show love and acceptance, nay embrace, in a Christlike way, if that’s what they aspire to.

  3. I’m worried that combining the issue of transgender bathrooms and sexual assault takes something away from both. Historical data on sexual assault shows a high number of assaults (more than 90 percent) are perpetrated by people the victim knows. E.g., not random restroom users. By linking these two issues, we’re not only saying, falsely, that a disproportionate number of trans people are ‘perverted’ or sexual abusers (got any data on that one, Joe?) but we’re taking the discussion away from the actual issue of sexual assault, which is a huge problem.

    • Neal Schindler

      Thank you. This is such an important point. Also, as some have pointed out, cis male predators are apparently allowed to be in bathrooms with male children and no one cares.

  4. I know we are all interested in getting the facts, so that our decisions and opinions are grounded in the truth. Here are some quotes from experts in this field,

    “”It’s critical that we keep our communities and families safe. I’ve devoted my career to preventing sexual violence in our community and I take that very seriously. When I looked at the language of I-1515, I realized it would do nothing to protect our privacy and safety. In fact, taking away Washington’s 10-year old discrimination protections would have serious unintended consequences for the privacy and safety of all of us and encourage more discrimination and harassment.” ANDREA PIPER-WENTLAND•DIRECTOR, WA COALITION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT PROGRAMS

    “As the father of five and the grandfather of five children, and as a former police officer, nothing is more important to me than keeping my family and community safe. That’s why as a Snohomish County Sheriff, I led the fight to crack down on child sex offenders. The truth is, I-1515 will do nothing to make us safer. We’ve protected gay and transgender people from discrimination in Washington for 10 years, with no increase in public safety incidents as a result. It’s important to remember that indecent exposure, voyeurism, and sexual assault, are already illegal and police use those laws to keep people safe and hold offenders accountable. We can protect law abiding people while also protecting people from discrimination in public places—including in bathrooms.” FORMER SHERIFF JOHN LOVICK•SNOHOMISH COUNTY

    • Neal Schindler

      Here’s what bathroom bill supporter the Alliance Defending Freedom has put forth on the issue:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg-MAMvkplE

      To my mind this campaign exploits the very real and serious issues of sexual assault and post-traumatic stress to perpetuate the notion that bathroom bills will actually provide some kind of safety from assault. To me it trivializes two things our society really needs to take seriously: sexual assault and rape culture.

  5. Great responses, everyone. This is Spokane FāVS at its best!
    One thing logic and empiric reason cannot do is change everyone’s mind overnight. I’m sure many folks went to their graves holding onto the belief the world was flat even when most leaders were rationally demonstrating otherwise. Many likely also rode the fence on the entire matter just to play it safe per se. A similar phenomenon exists today around the concept of “gender.” Look it up in Webster’s and you get two specific contexts for the word. The first context references the nuance of languages. The second context relates to the two biological sexes and offers two connotations. The first connotation is just sex (as in male or female). This definition is a flat-world point of view to which many yet tightly hold. The second definition is, “behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.” This well-rounded point of view extracts “gender” from hard, fast associations with one biological sex or the other. How many folks in free (vs. suppressed) societies today believe it is wrong for women to wear pants, chop their hair and enjoy careers? (Let’s just say if you do, expect to soon fall off the edge of the earth.) My point is that if what is a gender norm in one culture is the opposite of that norm in another culture, then the term “gender” is logically and appropriately NOT absolute to one biological SEX or the other. PERHAPS, one day, EVERYONE might feel at home with whatever parts we’re born with AND however we feel most at home expressing ourselves. In the mean time, populations are slowly adjusting to relaxing yesterday’s rigid biological associations. Those wishing to live their lives according to yet predominant boundaries deserve such freedoms. Should a president act unilaterally to enforce such said logic? Well, that question actually goes directly against the well thought out logic of our founding fathers. America loses when she betrays her own principals. I agree with Eric, Supreme Court here we come again.

    • So true, Riff! I so wish one day I would hear someone on this site say, “I didn’t know that. (like facts) That changes my opinion.” All of the statistics on sexual assault show that the predators are white, male, cisgender, straight guys. Where are the laws to protect us from them? (not you. *smile*)

    • Neal Schindler

      Gender as “behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex” is definitely held to be real and true by the mainstream psychological and mental health professional communities. To pretend gender equals sex and nothing more is just that, a game of pretending.

  6. The issue has been spun as only a “bathroom bill” remember it also includes locker rooms/showers etc.

    Removing hedges of reasonable protection isn’t hate or discrimination it’s common sense. Here’s a link to plenty of examples showing the fear of abuse survivors is a legitimate trigger. https://the-last-crusade.tumblr.com/post/144472815420/the-tip-of-the-iceberg-please-add-to-this-list

    Why take away the simple barrier of reasonable exclusion for privacy?

    If a woman finds a man in a bathroom or shower before, it was no question about response. Now a potential victim can’t scream, react, etc they just have to hope none of the MANY crimes listed above won’t happen. Why would anyone want to increase such possibilities of crimes, anxiety or personal history horror for abuse survivors?

    The fear is real, especially for sexual assault survivors. Watch these women talk about how they feel about all the triggers they go through as a result: https://youtu.be/tg-MAMvkplE

    • Eric, you use words like “remove” and “take away” but these rules have been in place for ten years, with no incidents. So, the only thing being ‘removed’ are the protections for trans folks.
      You also wrote, “Why would anyone want to increase such possibilities of crimes, anxiety or personal history horror for abuse survivors?” But the statistics all show that there is NO increase in the possibility for crime. Rather, these discriminatory laws INCREASE the potential for harm to not only the trans community but for anyone who doesn’t dress like someone else thinks they should.
      As a person of faith, it is my duty to treat others the way I would want to be treated, and these laws demean, demonize, and make targets of an entire group of people. This is not how God wants us to treat each other. We need to be concerned with the safety of EVERYONE not just the ones we choose to love.

      • I linked to two examples one a long list of crimes, legal issues and situational examples that provide plenty of reason to be concerned.

        The other vid lets sexual assault victims speak for themselves on the issue.

        I don’t think it’s fair to demonize opponents on either side. I’m not an alarmist, I’ve had to deal personally with an attempted bathroom assault on my foster daughter by a male employee in the women’s restroom at her work after closing. Perps look for increased access, private spaces and use whatever loopholes they can to get close to potential victims. I oppose increasing access to vulnerable people male or female in bathrooms or showers. I spent hours with a male victim of sexual assault this week and the horrendous damage done to people’s lives by assault is the reason I stand up for and against unreasonable endangerment.

        • Eric, I also minister to folks traumatized by assault, so I know the pain you speak of. But yet again, you use the phrase, “increasing access” and my point is that these discriminatory laws do not increase access. Predators do not care about laws, or signs on the changing room door. Predators will still prey on folks, but let’s focus on who those predators are and where/when these incidents occur, and take action in those areas, because trans folks are not the perpetrators but they are being demonized as such.

          • I am sure you do minister to assault/abuse victims and since the level of rape and sexual abuse of various forms is rampant in our culture, especially on college campuses. This reality in our culture is behind the push of justice oriented people to stand up against anything that would endanger the most vulnerable.

            Many argue that bathroom assaults are irrational situations to worry about, I shared a personal, first hand experience with our foster daughter. If the law allows men in bathrooms or locker rooms or showers, the immediate alarm system of ‘prohibited place’ is removed. That is a significant removal of a hedge of reasonable protection.

            The aversion to removal of reasonable hedges of protection isn’t discrimination or hate. Working to limit assaults on transgender or assist them in access to appropriate facilities doesn’t have to come at the expense of other people’s safety and rights.

          • Eric, I apologize. I neglected to say how sorry I am that someone you know has been assaulted. I can’t imagine how traumatic that is/was for all of you. I pray for God’s peace for your family.

          • No need to apologize, she escaped due to her own skills, but I will never forget the terror in her voice on the phone.

          • Neal Schindler

            “Working to limit assaults on transgender or assist them in access to appropriate facilities doesn’t have to come at the expense of other people’s safety and rights.”

            I feel like we have a different idea of what “appropriate facilities” are, though. If we assume that not every public facility can afford to build unisex bathrooms, then “appropriate facilities” involve trans men using women’s restrooms? Also, the push for unisex bathrooms denies the fact that trans women and men are really just women and men. I don’t expect bathroom bill supporters to accept that, but I do wonder about the broadly unanswered question of what will happen when trans men are forced (and who will do the forcing?) to use the women’s room. Is that going to be comfortable for cis female survivors of sexual assault?

          • Neal Schindler

            So many predators, statistically, are already known to the victims. Why is this fact being swept under the rug in the bathroom debate?

  7. Great conversation everyone!

  8. Matthew, I read the speech by Cardinal Robert Sarah in Washington DC on May 17, 2016 at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast 2016.(http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-18/cardinal-robert-sarah-claims-god-is-being-eroded-eclipsed-liquidated-in-the-united-states?src=usn_fb) The speech was a confrontational as anything I have read by evangelicals, these quotes specifically address the gender issues. What’s your thoughts about his comments? Do they accurately reflect the catholic church’s view?

    “…the death of God results in the burial of good, beauty, love and truth. Good becomes evil, beauty is ugly, love becomes the satisfaction of sexual primal instincts, and truths are all relative. So all manner of immorality is not only accepted and tolerated today in advanced societies, but even promoted as a social good. The result is hostility to Christians, and, increasingly, religious persecution. Nowhere is this clearer than in the threat that societies are visiting on the family through a demonic “gender ideology,” a deadly impulse that is being experienced in a world increasingly cut off from God through ideological colonialism.

    “…evils of gender ideology.”

    “This is why it is so important to fight to protect the family, the first cell of the life of the Church and every society. This is not about abstract ideas. It is not an ideological war between competing ideas. This is about defending ourselves, children and future generations from a demonic ideology that says children do not need mothers and fathers. It denies human nature and wants to cut off entire generations from God.”

    “Do we not see signs of this insidious war in this great nation of the United States? In the name of “tolerance,” the Church’s teachings on marriage, sexuality and the human person are dismantled. The legalization of same sex marriage, the obligation to accept contraception within health care programs, and even “bathroom bills” that allow men to use the women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Should not a biological man use the men’s restroom? How simpler can that concept be?”

    “The battle to preserve the roots of mankind is perhaps the greatest challenge that our world has faced since its origins. In the words of Saint Catherine of Siena: “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”

    • Neal Schindler

      “…and even ‘bathroom bills’ that allow men to use the women’s restrooms and locker rooms.”

      This seems to me like a telling confusion. Bathroom bills are attempts to bar trans people from using the bathroom that fits their identified gender. In many cases, as in Washington, everything was going fine with bathrooms until this hullabaloo. It’s folks saying they’re afraid of cis male predators supposedly primed to exploit trans-friendly policies who are trying to pass laws.

      • Matthew Sewell

        Neal – I want to clarify, when I note my concern that women will be more at risk for assault by men entering women’s restrooms, I don’t think it will be trans men (please forgive any misuse of terminology, btw) doing the assaulting/peeping/harassing. I think it will be men who claim to be men, except for the mere purpose of entering a women’s restroom and simply *claiming* that they identify as a woman in order to make themselves legally allowed in the restroom.

    • Matthew Sewell

      Great question, Eric. I don’t know much about Cardinal Sarah, having not read any of his books or seen any talks by him other than a short video or two, but I have great respect for him and his work in the Church in Africa from what I do know of him, and I also think he speaks poignantly into what the Catholic Church believes and teaches about human nature, even if it does come off a little…perhaps…sharp.

      Here’s what I mean: The Church starts from the positions that a) God is all love and all goodness, and b) that “male and female he created them” is indeed a hard and fast distinction that does not separate body from soul, as gender ideology does. The Church also teaches that God is the great Unifier — examples being the perfect union of the Trinity, or “…so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you…” (Jn17:21) — and the Devil the great divider. So, it could be seen as a demonic, dividing influence when a social movement seeks to separate soul from body — “my body is male but I identify as a female” — as the trans movement does.

      It’s also important to note that by “demonic” Cardinal Sarah isn’t talking necessarily about an Exorcist Movie-level demonic possession. There exists a large spectrum of demonic influence from the smallest temptations all the way up to full-fledged possession. So (thankfully) the Cardinal isn’t accusing all trans people or fans of the movement as being possessed 🙂

      He also is speaking great truth, quite literally, that the death of God – that is, the removal of all consideration of God from a conversation, assuming that humans can define and/or create their own reality – is the burial of goodness, truth, beauty, and love. If God, the immovable, unchangeable source of all that is, is utterly rejected, then all *necessarily* becomes meaningless and up for grabs. From where the Catholic Church sits, nothing could be more abhorrent than a movement that seeks to eliminate God.

      I also want to NOTE: Condemning a movement is not the same as condemning souls, either individually or collectively. The most important thing to the Church is proclaiming the redeeming power of Jesus Christ, who was crucified and died for our sins, and conquered the power of death at his resurrection three days later. Because the Church’s primary objective is to help souls reach heaven, and because it is only by Christ that humans can be redeemed, the Church will vehemently oppose, and has for 20 centuries, any ideology that claims to do what only Christ can do.

  9. While we’re at it, I’d like to point out that saying something is discriminatory isn’t a personal attack. The word discriminate means: “to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit; show partiality: The new law discriminates against foreigners.”

    To remove the protections that have been in place in WA, I’m speaking specifically to proposed initiative, I-1515, is discriminatory based on the above definition. There is no merit in dismantling our anti-discrimination law when there have been no incidents to warrant it.

  10. A (cis female) friend’s comment:

    “Hey, folks! You know that you’re able to use any restroom and be free from others exposing their genitals to you, right? Otherwise, it’s called ‘indecent exposure’ and you can have them prosecuted. It’s already a crime. No need to make additional laws with the sole purpose of unnecessarily humiliating fellow human beings while denying them the basic dignity of urinating or defecating in the privacy of a locked stall when they need to.

    “Also, due to irrefutable crime statistics and personal experience, I’m far more scared of straight men and their conduct outside of bathrooms than I am of transgender people inside of them.

    “Cool? Glad we had this little talk.”

  11. Neal Schindler

    Yet bathroom bill supporters say they fear men entering the women’s room. How do they think women, cis or trans, perceive these trans men? They present as conventional men. I just don’t think the fear argument holds up.

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