Genderqueers and transpeople do not deserve basic human rights. #AlternativeFact
Have you ever experienced discrimination or bullying when going to the bathroom? If the answer is no, you are probably more privileged than you think.
As the fight for gender-neutral bathrooms continues, we must stop and think about how this can affect genderqueer and transgender individuals.
First, let’s define these terms.
“Transgender” is the overarching umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity is opposite from the sex they were assigned at birth. These individuals often dress to reflect the gender that they most identify with. It is extremely common, but not required, for transgender individuals to undergo surgery and inject hormones to physically transform into society’s vision of that gender. Transgender individuals who choose to undergo surgery to resemble the biological map of the gender opposite from which they were assigned at birth, are known as “transsexual.”
“Genderqueer” is a new term that Merriam Webster added in 2016 that falls under the metaphorical umbrella of being transgender. Genderqueer is defined as “a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female.” Also known as non-binary or gender non-conforming, genderqueer individuals live on a spectrum that does not identify with just one gender. Unlike transgender individuals, genderqueer people do not make a 180 degree switch to the opposite gender.
Both groups of people do not fit the stereotypical mold of what a man or woman should look like, and in result are often bullied or harassed in public, especially when attempting to use the restroom they most identify with. If a transman (a person who was born a woman but identifies as a man), attempts to enter the men’s restroom and is stopped because he does not look like manly enough, that harassment is directly linked to society’s idea of masculinity. The ideological male, who is full of body hair and muscles and resembles Ryan Gosling or Hugh Jackman, is an example of hegemonic masculinity. The “hegemony” in hegemonic masculinity refers to a social ascendance of power and is heterosexual in nature, being closely associated to the institution of marriage. Subordinated masculinity, however, is homosexual, comprises traits of femininity and is perceived as inferior to the hegemonic masculine male. Transmen and genderqueer individuals are objects of subordinated masculinity because they do not fit the stereotypical male role.
In an article by the Washington Post, a student expresses his concern for his 21-year old genderqueer friend, Ji-Ho Park, who identifies as they/them:
“During our talk, I started to become hyper-aware of the challenges that non-binary people face. School registration and insurance forms, driver’s license and college applications, even (especially) dating sites — all binary. And of course, restrooms. You must choose male or female.”
To have a better understanding of the issues America is facing today regarding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, here’s a brief timeline of public restroom policies:
- April 2015: President Obama opened the first gender-neutral bathroom in the White House.
- Feb. 2016: The city of Charlotte introduced a new law that allowed transgender people to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
- March 2016: North Carolina legislators met to pass a House Bill, commonly referred to as the “Bathroom Bill,” which requires people to use the bathroom of their birth gender.
- May 2016: The Obama administration publicized a federal law known as Title IX to protect the rights of transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.
- Feb. 2017: President Trump rescinds the May 2016 Title IX law that directs schools to allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. Trump leaves it up to the states to decide.
Just when it seemed like America was taking two steps forward, we then took two steps back. After years of progress for the LGBTQ+ community, this new overturn of the Title IX law is forcing children who have lived their lives as one gender to be placed in the uncomfortable situation of using the restrooms of the gender opposite from which they identify. To go along with Trump’s repeal of the Title IX law, 12 state legislatures are considering bills that would require transgender people to use bathroom and locker room facilities that match their biological sex or “birth gender.”
Do you think these legislators are doing this because it is the best option for all of society? Or is this a reaction to fear of the transgender community and the unknown? Chances are, you have already been in the same restroom as someone who is transgender and did not even realize it. I believe that everyone deserves the basic human right to privacy and comfortability when using the restroom.
For transgender or genderqueer individuals that are hoping for comfort in the future when using public restrooms, Yelp has created a new feature on its app that provides information and directions on where to find local businesses that have gender-neutral bathrooms.