Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Speech I'd Like to Hear Hillary Make

Sometime soon, Hillary Clinton will be asked to address the transgender bathroom law in North Carolina.  

As my brother, who has a home in Chapel Hill remarked, it's interesting that this whole thing started when a local jurisdiction, Charlotte, passed a city ordinance allowing transgenders to use bathrooms of their choice and the state swooped in and said, "Oh, no. You can't do that."  So you had a bigger government, the state, telling local people in Charlotte what they couldn't do. But when the state is told by the federal government they can't tell Charlotte what to do, the state says, "This is an issue of local control over local affairs! You can't come down here and tell us what to do!"

Jelani Cobb notes, in this week's New Yorker "North Carolina was more than willing to countenance 'all gender' bathrooms when they served the puroses of racial segregation. Jim Crow legislation culminated in separate bathrooms for white men and white women but only a single 'colored' rest room for African-Americans, whatever their gender."

Cobb sees an analogy between  this fight and  the civil rights fight for African American rights--"a tableau of states' rights populism, an embattled minority seeking equality, a conflict over who is allowed to use public facilities and a Southern governor committed to resisting federal executive authority."  But a group of Black pastors in North Carolina doesn't see it that way and is supporting the law.

So when Hillary is asked, here's what I hope she'd say:

"The fact is legislators who supported this law, some of them at least, tried to trot out the warning that if transgenders were allowed to use bathrooms, we'd unleash sexual predators on the women of North Carolina. That sounds a lot like the rationale legislators from the same state once used when faced with the opening of public facilities to all races--Black men, who cannot resist raping White women, would somehow be given full license to rape once they are given proximity.  There was the rape myth pinned on Black men and now the rape myth pinned on transgenders and both were nothing more than a manifestation of a sick imagination on the part of some White Southern males.  There has been not a single instance of sexual predation in North Carolina by a transgender.

And it is likely true the Governor of North Carolina, in a tight election race signed this bill into law hoping to shore up his support among White, conservative men. 

But, having recognized the sordid origins of this law, I have to ask myself why Black ministers in North Carolina have formed a group supporting this law. They clearly do not see it as the same thing as denying civil rights to a despised racial minority. 

And one has to listen to the state legislators who said it wasn't the use of bathroom stalls that bothered them, but the mandate that female locker rooms could be used by individuals with male genitalia.  One might ask if this has actually become a problem in North Carolina, but one can also imagine the problem this very easily  might cause for a commercial gym. How will  female customers at a Gold's Gym or a Planet fitness  react?  They hit the gym at 5 AM, by 6 AM they are in the shower and off to work. But what if standing next to them is an individual with male genitalia?  I suppose, if the showers are separate stalls, that might work, but this is a can of worms.

So, I would support a law which allowed bathroom stall use by any gender, but I would also oppose a law which required the opening of female locker rooms to individuals with male genitalia, in the setting of a commercial or educational facility.
It should be noted, the North Carolina law did not forbid the use of facilities by transgenders but it struck down the imposition of a requirement on these facilities. If they wanted to open up the locker rooms, they could.

 I realize this will shock and dismay some of my supporters, who expect me to stand with any reviled minority against the power and intolerance of the state, but as a matter of principle, I cannot support transgender males who still retain male genitalia using locker rooms for females, even if they consider themselves female. 

The fact is, what they think about their own gender identity cannot be forced upon those who may disagree with them, and anatomy in this case, trumps psychology.

That's where I am on this issue. I'm willing to be convinced I've come to the wrong conclusion, but until I hear a compelling argument to the contrary, I would leave female locker rooms to people with female external genitalia."

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