Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why should an individual's problems become ours?

Well, I've got two things for this posting:  1) I figured out where Obama gets his denigrating tone and that would be at Harvard and 2) I'm wondering exactly when gender became a box?.

Instapundit's guest blogger Ann Althouse links to an article in the Harvard Crimson about the trials and trevails of transgendered people trying to find a bathroom to use.  Apparently when you have a woman dressed like a man, who self-identifies as transgendered, but still isn't comfortable with being a man and wants to use the woman's bathroom AND has someone try to correct them, it's embarrassing. 

But let's look at the Crimson's report for the denigrating tone first:
At the time, Partridge identified as transgender but had yet to transition and therefore did not feel comfortable using the men’s restroom. So as he opened the door to the women’s restroom a man yelled, “Hey buddy—wait!” The man walked over with a dim-witted grin on his face and said to Partridge, “You’re about to go into the ladies room!”

(I added the bolding/underline/italics for emphasis).
So, someone is "dim-witted" because they stopped someone who was dressed as man and looked like a man and was self-identifying as a man (almost, but not quite) from entering a women's restroom.  Interesting.  Couldn't be that they were trying to save someone some embarrassment by walking into the wrong bathroom or anything. Or that they were trying to prevent a man from hanging out in the women's restroom for whatever reason?  Nope.  According to the Harvard Crimson, the guy couldn't see that a man that he doesn't know who going into the ladies' room was actually a female transitioning into a man but was unsure of their transition and wanted to use the restroom with which they were most familiar and that makes the nice guy dimwitted.  Seriously. 

With that kind of logic, no wonder Obama has an derogatory attitude towards anyone who sees a situation differently than he does.  Must be that we're all dimwitted, according to Harvard Crimson standards.

And now for the second part.  And I'm going to preface this one with a disclaimer.  I have gay friends, I have transgendered friends, I have attended the wedding of a man who became a woman who married a lesbian and was (and am still) very happy for them.  So I think I've got a wide range of experience with differently-gendered folks and it doesn't bother me in the least what or how they choose to be or what parts might be factory originals or not. 

My problem arises when they try (really when any group tries) to make their personal issues and preferences into my problem or into society's problem.  For good or for ill, most folks are borne either physically male or physically female.  It's marked on a birth certificate.  Public bathrooms are marked thusly so that folks with the same plumbing can be in the same place for a lot of reasons.  I don't think it's a bad thing for a designation to 'sift men from women' on a restroom door, although the Crimson seems to think it is. 

The crux of my issue is this:  our society does 'sort' by men and women.  If someone is transgendered and is 'self-identifying' as one or the other, then they should go all the way.  Their timidity is not my problem, nor should it be anyone else's problem.  I don't think that society as a whole should have to change labels or spend huge amounts of money because gender-neutral bathrooms are not easily accessible. 

It is not my problem if people who "are not trans-identified but whose gender presentation to some degree transgresses the gender norms of their context, have had the experience of being asked if they are in the ‘right bathroom’ or told they are in the ‘wrong’ one,”.  It is the same as if someone dresses in leather with tats and shaves their head and has Nazi symbols all over them would get offended at being called a skinhead.  We are, in many ways, identified by our mode of dress, and that includes sex and gender.

If someone mis-reads a fashion statement, that is the problem of the person making the statement, not the person reading it and they should be prepared to deal with the consequences of that statement.


North said...

I just shook my head in dismay.

It reminds me of one of the early pioneers of manufacturing televisions (Farnsworth or Sarnoff, I think) where a TV was produced, but to be competitive in the market this guy kept _removing_ electronic circuitry until the TV would just stop working -then add a little back. A surprising amount of the original design was removed with the result being a less expensive TV. But all of the fluff was removed and the TV worked.

Your post follows that. You've removed all of the superfluous arguments about 'rights' and feelings that might be hurt and got to the root. And your point still stands solidly. Well done.

Like Einstein said: "Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler"

Midwest Chick said...

I read the comments on the Harvard Crimson and they seemed to be mostly along the lines of what I wrote. Surprising...