Yesterday on The Daily Weekly I wrote about the dustup at The Evergreen State College involving the use of the college recitation center locker room by transgender student who identifies as female but was born male. Specifically, Colleen Francis' use of the sauna in the female locker room has led Arizona-based religious group Alliance Defending Freedom to go on the attack.
Evergreen officials say the school's policy of allowing transgender individuals access to locker rooms based on their stated gender - in this case, Francis identifies as a female - is in accordance with state law that prohibits state agencies from discrimination based on gender expression or identity (specifically, RCW 49.60.040). Despite this stance, the Alliance Defending Freedom is mad as hell.
"Little girls should not be exposed to naked men, period. A college's notions about 'non-discrimination' don't change that," says Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker in a press release distributed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which says it is acting on behalf of parents concerned for their children's safety.
The September drama involving Francis and members of the youth swim team came to the attention of campus police, who logged a police report noting that a 17-year-old Capital High School student "became upset" when she saw Francis' male genitalia in the locker room sauna. The police report says that a female coach of another youth swim team that utilizes Evergreen's pool facilities, Tiffany Wright, expressed concerns that girls ranging in age from six to 18 use Evergreen's locker room, and "were note use to" encountering transgender people with male genitalia in the sauna.
Campus police notified the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office of the situation, though no charges have been filed related to the incident - one of many things Hacker and the Alliance Defending Freedom takes serious issue with.
"The idea that the college and the local district attorney will not act to protect young girls is appalling," Hacker continues in the Alliance Defending Freedom press release. "What Americans are seeing here is the poisoned fruit of so-called 'non-discrimination' laws and policies. Placing this man's proclivities ahead of protecting little girls is beyond unacceptable."
While Evergreen installed privacy screens after the dustup to try to alleviate the problem, Jason Wettstein, the college's media and community relations manager, says the matter comes down to protecting the civil rights of everyone.
"In accordance with state law, the college cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity, and so transgender individuals are afforded access to the facility based on their stated gender identity," says Wettstein. "The essence of it is we're obeying state law, and trying to accommodate the privacy needs of multiple users, and trying to ensure that we respect people's civil rights."
The post inspired reaction on Twitter, Facebook, and in the Daily Weekly comments section, where lilithbegone chimed in.
In a society that demonises sex of any kind that isn't under the covers with the lights turned off this sort of problem will turn up far too often. And since we have segregated the sexes so much it is the transgenders who suffer the most.
Transgirls HATE that they have a penis. At least I do.. But most of us can't afford surgery to change that and even some of us who can are too scared of what might happen if we do. As a transsexual, I can tell you who you are is in the mind not the genitals. Forcing a transgirl into a male locker room, restroom, or whatever puts her at more risk than all of the cisgendered girls in the locker room combined. Then it changes from "OMG! Penis." to the campus getting sued for endangerment or worse, a murder investigation. And this IS the reality we face. Which is why the transgender holiday is day of remembrance. Where we call out each transperson's name who was killed or took their own life just that year.
If we want to solve the problem while still making the human bodies reproductive organs into a taboo subject then your only option is to educate everyone on transgendered individuals. If we keep people ignorant, then the problems we have will continue and possibly get worse.