The Bathroom Battle and the True War on Womanhood

Does it really matter if men and women are forced to use the same public restrooms?

In short, yes. It matters a lot.

In recent weeks, as you have undoubtedly heard, there has been an onslaught of publicity and action around this issue. Seemingly out of nowhere, separate restrooms for men and women came under attack.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights:

First, there was Target’s decision to open its restrooms and changing rooms to either gender. Any man can walk into the women’s restroom, no questions asked. If women feel uncomfortable, we’re seen as the problem.

So, I’m boycotting Target. To me, its policy demonstrates a disrespect and disregard for women. Target is certainly entitled to make whatever policy it wants to. If we don’t agree with it, we don’t have to shop there. And I’m choosing to take my business elsewhere. (In full disclosure, this personal boycott of mine is a huge pain. I live two minutes away from a Target, and it has been a regular stop for weekend errands. (And it has plenty of parking, which is a big deal for city dwellers.) In the past few weeks, however, I have resisted its convenience and found what I needed elsewhere. Some principles just aren’t worth compromising.)

While Target has voluntarily embraced this new politically correct movement, others are fighting to maintain the traditional perspective on gender.

The state of North Carolina, for example, fought back against a Charlotte ordinance. Charlotte had added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the city’s public accommodations ordinance. Businesses and other public locations in Charlotte would have been forbidden to separate any facilities (e.g., restrooms, showers, locker rooms) based on sex.

The North Carolina state legislature passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2), which requires public schools and government agencies to separate multi-occupancy bathrooms, showers, locker rooms, etc. based on biological sex. It also created a new public accommodations law that prohibits discrimination based on traditionally protected categories, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. In response to this legitimate balancing of interests, the LGBT community and its supporters bombarded the state with accusations of bigotry and hatred.

And then the federal government came marching in from Washington. The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to North Carolina’s governor informing him that North Carolina’s new law violated federal civil rights law. Notably, however, Title VII makes no mention of sexual orientation or gender identity. North Carolina and DOJ sued each other over this interpretation and that legal battle is pending.

Last, but by no means least, in an explosive expansion of authority, President Obama’s Department of Justice and Department of Education issued a letter of “guidance” to public school systems across the country. It advises them that Title IX now prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. Public schools should allow students to use any shared facility and participate in any activity on the basis of their gender identity. Schools may lose federal funding if they refuse to allow a male student to use female showers, restrooms, locker rooms, etc.

That’s a quick summary of recent weeks’ activity, but this issue is in its infancy. Where are we going to stop with the eradication of gender?

This is a true war on womanhood. And here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Allowing men into women’s restrooms and locker rooms is a clear invasion of women and girls’ privacy. These types of facilities have been separated historically by biological sex for a reason. They are places where our most intimate, personal natures and bodies are exposed. The simple fact is that men and women are biologically different. We have different parts, different bodies, and function differently. Sharing these spaces with only members of the same biological gender is more comfortable and creates a safer space. This is particularly important for women and girls, because we are more vulnerable. Women, and our bodies, should be valued and protected. Instead, our culture and government are ripping away any sense of modesty and forcing unwanted exposure to biological men.
  2. The government is forcing its values on women and girls at the expense of their safety. I’m not asserting that every biological male using women’s facilities will harm them or have any intent to do so. These policies, however, enable those with sinister intentions. There is no way to tell the difference or to limit these policies to protect against that. It is ironic that there is so much focus on eliminating the rape culture on campuses, yet now the government is requiring public schools to allow men to shower in the girls’ room. And when asked about overnight accommodations, the Department of Education encourages schools to treat students consistent with their gender identity. In other words, dorm rooms will no longer be limited to roommates of the same gender and overnight class trips for high school students will consist of boys and girls sharing hotel rooms. What about the biological girls who are uncomfortable with this? That the government is imposing this policy on women, girls, and families is so troubling.
  3. This movement devalues and dismisses womanhood. These policies essentially seek to erase any kind of gender distinctions. Recognizing femininity is literally becoming illegal. The Department of Education encourages biological girls who are uncomfortable sharing space with a biological boy to use alternative restrooms or changing rooms. Biological girls are being asked to leave the girls’ rooms in deference to biological boys claiming womanhood. To me, this is disrespectful of true womanhood and unfair to women and girls.

Believing in traditional, moral principles (and biological fact) does not mean that we have an animus toward anyone. Disagreement does not equal hatred. You can (and should) show love and respect for someone with an opposing viewpoint and still hold fast to your convictions.

We must respectfully – but adamantly – stand our ground on this issue. It’s easier to ignore it and just scroll by the online news. However, I believe that protecting gender is one of the most critical issues of our time. We cannot just waive the white flag in this culture war. It is vitally important to engage in democratic practices, make our voices heard, and fight to protect true womanhood.

Question: Do you think it’s okay for women and men to use the same public multi-use restroom or locker room?


Reply May 19, 2016

I think the federal government should have stayed out of this one: the government should be making data-based decisions and as it relates to gender-identity, especially for children, I'm not sure how much evidence there is. I don't think we know how many children are affected by having to use traditional bathrooms, or if there are genuine safety concerns with opening up restrooms to all. That's why it would have been useful to let this issue play out in court where we can get some studies or other evidence to help guide the decision making. It does get complicated when you consider intersex people (it looks like the word hermaphrodite is no longer used?) and I have no clue how many people are intersex. But given all of the uncertainty I think the administration should have treaded more carefully. Especially as it relates to locker rooms, there is an expectation of privacy that is proper and should be taken into consideration as well.

Tera Martin-Roy
Reply June 28, 2016

I believe that the problem stems from fear and lack of knowledge. Target has gone public with a policy that I have to believe other stores aren't against, they simply don't state it out loud. I commend Target for being part of the inclusive movement. I promise you, you've used public restrooms with a transgender female in your lifetime and didn't know it. In my experience, and I know I've not been involved with every circumstance, a transgender person begins using the restroom of the gender they identify with when they have begun living as their identified gender. This is not a decision made haphazardly, not on the fly, and it doesn't change from day to day. Within the past two years I noticed we had a transitioning student attending courses on the floor of my office suite and by the end of the semester, had I not known her at the beginning of the semester, I'd have never known she was transgender. My first encounter with her was at the beginning of the semester in the women's restroom and I was not the least bit uncomfortable. In fact, as I walked out behind her, I silently wished her a peaceful life as I followed her down the hall and turned off into my office suite. In my view, not one person on this earth would choose to be gay, bi, transgender, or anything but straight if they had the choice. Straight is the easy way. It's the easy way to have children, to fit in with society, to follow norms, to shop for clothes, to do almost anything in life. The LGBT community has had to fight so incredibly hard for everything they have and they are still FAR from equality. They are humans with thoughts like yours, feelings like yours, dreams like yours, fears like yours, blood like yours. It is up to us to attempt to listen to them and TRULY try to understand what they are going through and it is also up to them to listen to you to make sure you understand what needs to be said or done to ease this transition into a more inclusive and much more peaceful world.

I can only hope that we, as a society, figure out how to communicate in such a way that we finally hear and understand each other. Where is Marshal Rosenberg when we truly need him?

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