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Reader’s Transgender Locker-Room Scenario Isn’t Worth The Worry

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Reader’s Transgender Locker-Room Scenario Isn’t Worth The Worry

A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/File photo

Dear Roz:

OK, I think I have an answer for you. But I must say, your email, which I highlighted in this space a few weeks back, had me stumped for awhile. That’s why I asked readers to weigh in on the question you posed:

Namely, how should you, a self-described left-wing progressive and supporter of gay rights, respond if ever you find yourself sharing the locker room at the public pool with a transgender woman who still has male reproductive equipment?

You wrote: “I have no problem with trans people of whatever biology or stage of transition in bathroom stalls, but what about locker rooms, where nudity is normal? I would be very uncomfortable if I was unclothed and someone two feet away from me took off their clothes and a penis appeared.”

Roz, the response from many readers can be summed up as follows: Relax. You have nothing to worry about.

John from Butte wrote, “Please tell Roz that the estimated 700,000 to 2,000,000 transgender people in the USA are using showers and locker rooms very well today just as they have for many years and she doesn’t even know about it. The fact she doesn’t know is proof that transgender people are discreet, sensitive and careful.”

Robyn, a transgender woman from greater Richmond, said that, “Revealing the mysteries that lie beneath the surface is not something I’m even remotely inclined to consider. Until the day arrives that I am comfortable my naked appearance will seamlessly blend in with the other ladies present, you will not find me in a locker room. To do so would undermine every other effort I make to be normal.”

A reader named Lindsey agreed: “As a transgender woman (albeit one beginning her transition to womanhood), I can tell you there is not one pre-op transwoman that will willingly expose herself to others in a locker room or fitting area.”

Reading their emails, Roz, it struck me how obvious the answers seemed in hindsight. But then, when a thing is alien to your experience, it’s often hard to think past the newness of it. And that can leave you vulnerable to demagogic lawmakers who see potential votes in your anxiety and irresolution.

That’s the story of North Carolina and other states where new laws raise the specter of police officers stationed outside every public toilet to look up your dress or down your pants to ensure your sex parts correspond to the gender of the restroom. We are told they’re passing these laws to deter child molesters.

But, Roz, how many children have you heard about being targeted by cross-dressing rapists? Statistically, wouldn’t those kids be in greater danger from priests and, well, demagogic lawmakers? While we’re on the subject, which would be more disruptive: the person who presents as a man in every visible aspect who enters the men’s room, or that same person strolling into the ladies’ restroom?

Again, things have a way of becoming obvious if you just stop and think.

That’s why we are often encouraged not to. After all, thinking people are less likely to let themselves be stampeded into sweeping, vote-getting restrictions based on vague, unfounded fears of what could happen. Not “has happened,” mind you. Not even “will happen.”

“Could” happen.

What conservative advocates of, ahem, “small government” never seem to appreciate is that, left to their own devices, good people usually find ways to figure this sort of stuff out, to make accommodations that allow locker rooms, restrooms and other public facilities to function smoothly without heavy-handed government guidance.

So, Roz, in the unlikely event you ever encounter that penis you fear, I am confident you and its owner will work something out. And I’ll bet you won’t need any lawmaker’s help to do it.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.


Photo: A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/File photo

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

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  1. David June 1, 2016

    Has the writer of this article lost what is left of his liberal mind? Like I want my 12 year old daughter in a restroom or sports shower with some guy? “But, they have been doing it for years and there have been no problems.” Fine, continue to do what you have been doing and STFU!

    1. FireBaron June 1, 2016

      David, how often will your daughter be using a public locker room? When she goes to a community swimming pool, does she dress in street clothes, or is she already in her bathing suit? If she is in middle school (which I assume from her age), she is likely to know who every TG kid in her class is. So, the only other one is public restrooms, like in a mall. That is why many of them have a “family rest room” with a lockable door. She is more likely to be attacked and molested by a relative or someone else known to her than a TG in a public facility. As the father of a 14 year old daughter, I have the same concerns. I have also taught my daughter what he needs to know in the event anything happens. Nothing complex – just slamming down on the attacker’s instep with her heel hard enough for her to hear bones snap. Just a solid kick to the groin. Stuff like that,

      1. David June 1, 2016

        Believe me… I worry about her. A 60 lb girl against a grown man? I agree with the foot stomp and groin kick. Add in an eye strike and throat spear also!

        1. Sand_Cat June 3, 2016

          Maybe if you spent more time worrying about reality: what a nasty little hypocrite you are using your religion as a weapon to bash others, for example, you’d spend less time worrying about things that aren’t likely to happen.
          Tired of talking about “Muslimes”? “Democraps”? “Libtards”? Or did it finally dawn on you that such slurs and wishes for others to consume feces and die aren’t all that good for your image as a devout little Christian, so you’re switching to something where you can employ Bronze-Age barbarian ignorance and prejudice and call it the “word of god”?
          You and “itsfun” should get together: it seems he can’t conceal his desire to “take a dump” in the stall next to someone’s 5-year-old daughter.

          1. David June 3, 2016

            Ha! Maybe if you kiss up to the Islamists, when they take over, they won’t subject you to their Sharia Law — not likely! Oh…”little”? At 6ft and 220 lbs, it has been a while since someone has called me “little”. Go find your safe place!

          2. Sand_Cat June 4, 2016

            “Little” does not refer to your physical stature, but I guess that’s too complicated.

          3. David June 5, 2016

            Oh, then it must refer to the cogency of your arguments!

    2. Insinnergy June 1, 2016

      As usual. A bigot and an ignorant idiot.
      Have a blessed day.

      1. David June 1, 2016

        Hmm… an “ignorant idiot” as opposed to a “brilliant idiot”? Have a blessed day.

        1. Sand_Cat June 3, 2016

          Well, let’s split the difference and settle on the real designation for you: nasty, self-righteous, religious hypocrite out to control and punish those who differ from you in religion, politics, or any other topic.
          “Have a blessed day” is just another way of saying what you actually slipped up and wrote openly: ES&D.
          Instead of treating us to more hypocrisy, why don’t YOU STFU!

  2. Paul Bass June 1, 2016

    No david, you are the one who has lost his mind.

    These people have BEEN going to the bathroom WITH your 12 year old daughter for YEARS! Has there EVER been a problem? NO! Have you ever even noticed them? NO!

    Grow up david, your daughter hasn’t noticed or cared and neither should you. What, you want to go INTO the GIRL’s bathroom with her? YOU are the one who will look odd.

  3. Paul Anthony June 1, 2016

    Public rest rooms and locker rooms are two different situations. Thinking that one policy can address both equally is not logical.

    It is true that a truly transgender person is not likely to be blatant while naked. He/she is likely to be more self-conscious than most people.

    But the advisory issued by this administration, no doubt in an effort to avoid offending anyone in the LGBT community, neglects the possibility that non-transgender hormonally challenged male teenagers might be willing to say “I identify as female today” for the privilege of sharing the showers with teenage girls.

    It’s not the transgender folks we have to be worried about. It’s the idiotic policy makers who have forgotten what it was like to be young and horny.

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