From the New York Times:
Transgender Bathroom Debate Turns Personal at a Vermont High School
“CHESTER, Vt. — The way A J Jackson tells it, he kept his head ducked down and pretended to fiddle with his cellphone as he walked into the boys’ bathroom and headed for a stall at Green Mountain Union High School here.
But the way some of his classmates see it, A J was still Autumn Jackson, a girl in boys’ clothing, who had violated an intimate sanctum, while two boys were standing at a urinal, their private parts exposed.
“It’s like me going into a girls’ bathroom wearing a wig,” Tanner Bischofberger, 15, a classmate of A J Jackson’s, who was not one of those in the bathroom, said this week. “It’s just weird.”
A complaint about Mr. Jackson’s using the boys’ bathroom set off a protest by students advocating the right of their transgender classmate to use the bathroom of his choice. On Thursday, the schools superintendent announced a new practice at the high school allowing transgender students to use the sex-specific bathroom of their choice, rather than being encouraged to use a gender-neutral bathroom.”
Some more details are given about A J later in the article. She has not begun hormones yet, so she is still 100% female, and her classmates have known her as a girl for their whole lives. Obviously, boys are going to be uncomfortable when one of their female classmates enters their washroom. Also, A J “once thought [s]he was lesbian, and is still attracted to girls.” A photo of A J in the New York Times article shows a teenage girl with green hair and a plaid shirt. She looks like a completely normal lesbian.
It was hard enough for me to come out as a lesbian, back when all I had to do was figure out what attraction and love felt like, and who made me feel those feelings. Imagine how hard it is now, when you have to go through a phase of believing you’re really a man and having your photo in the New York Times because you’ve been using the boys’ bathroom and your classmates aren’t happy about it. Dear goddess! Her life can’t be easy.
Some of her classmates are supporting her right to use the boys’ washroom, despite the boys’ objections, and despite the fact that it’s a terrible idea for teen girls to use men’s washrooms in general. I wish her classmates were supporting her for being a lesbian, instead of telling her she’s a boy.
So this whole thing has sparked some homophobic students to go around wearing T-shirts that say “straight pride.”
“Students at Green Mountain are complaining that a small vocal minority of gay, lesbian and, as far as they know, one — or maybe two — transgender students among them are trampling on the rights of the majority to decide what the rules of conduct should be.
That idea of a minority’s ruling unfairly is what motivated the father of one student to order the “Straight Pride” T-shirts online last week and send them to school with his daughter, who declined to be interviewed.
The T-shirt-wearing students say gay people are being celebrated at the expense of straight people.”
Fucking hell. Gays and lesbians aren’t ruling over anything. It’s still illegal to be gay in many countries, and there is still discrimination against gays even in the more tolerant areas. Celebrating gay people does absolutely nothing to harm straight people—that’s absolutely ridiculous. The reason for wearing a “straight pride” T-shirt is because you want to proudly display your homophobia. Congratulations, you’re a dickhead!
This “straight pride” thing brings up the complex issue about the relationship between gays and lesbians and transgenders. In a way, transition is not about sexual orientation, because it’s about whether one feels male or female or neither, not about who they’re attracted to. There are straight people who transition, too. But in another way, this is about gay people, because a lot of young transitioners, like this young woman, are actually gay or lesbian. The fact that students at this school began wearing “straight pride” T-shirts after the bathroom debate opened up shows how transgender politics creates a backlash against lesbians and gays. We are seen as the ones wanting to desegregate bathrooms, because we’ve allied ourselves with transgenders. But plenty of lesbians DO NOT agree with transgender politics, and DO NOT want to work with these people on bathroom desegregation. Many of the feminists who are gender-critical are lesbians. (I haven’t heard much from gay men about this. They don’t tend to care about women, do they?)
There are some pretty interesting quotes in this article.
“There were practical issues. When he had his period, he wondered if he should revert to the girls’ bathroom, because there was no place to throw away his used tampons. But he had started feeling like an intruder in the girls’ bathroom, and the single bathrooms were so far out of the way it was hard to get to class on time.”
His period? His used tampons? For gawd’s sake! She has a period because she’s female. Only females have periods.
You know, she’s not the only lesbian who feels like an intruder in the girls’ bathroom. Even I went through a period of worrying that I didn’t belong in female spaces when I was struggling with my sexuality, and I’m a lesbian who looks like a woman. It’s even worse for masculine-presenting women because the other women in bathrooms constantly assume they’re male and tell them they’re in the wrong bathroom and give them a hard time. The solution isn’t to use the men’s bathroom. The solution is to get help with your internalized homophobia, and become a proud lesbian who shows other people just how awesome and diverse women are. (And please read this post by Big Boo Butch about lesbians in washrooms, if you haven’t already. She is exactly the role model these young lesbians need.)
“Mr. Jackson feels safe in the boys’ bathroom at school, he said, whereas in public places, like Dunkin’ Donuts, he is afraid to go to the men’s restroom for fear of being attacked by straight men.”
She likely would get attacked by straight men. Any woman would be vulnerable to attack in a men’s washroom, but teenage girls are probably the most vulnerable. Anyone who cares about this girl will tell her not to use the men’s washroom, and to stick to either women’s or single-stall washrooms so that she will be safe.
“Hank Mauti, a school board member and retired sawmill worker from Andover, said he wondered why Mr. Jackson would feel compelled to use a boys’ bathroom when there were six single-use gender-neutral bathrooms in the school.”
It was noted in the article that the gender-neutral washrooms are farther away and so it’s hard to use them between classes. I think the teachers at this school should tell A J that it’s okay to be 2 minutes late for class if she needs to go to the gender neutral bathroom. She really could just use the girls’ bathroom, but the gender neutral one should be an option for her, to make her more comfortable. That would be a reasonable accommodation.
The article also notes that the kids at this school are divided and hostile with each other over this issue, and some kids who used to be friends no longer speak. This is so terrible. This shouldn’t be happening, and I bet this is happening at high schools all over North America. There should be no cult that convinces lesbians they are really men, there should be no laws requiring that washrooms be desegregated, people should use the washroom that corresponds to their anatomy and we should be fighting homophobia, sexist stereotypes, and male violence so that gays, lesbians, and gender nonconforming people of all types can be safe in the correct washroom.