Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gender identity forum in Lawrence

Lawrence is currently considering adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination ordinance and today the City's human rights commission held a public forum to discuss the issue.

I went as part of a group of people representing different aspects of the transgender spectrum. Most of the people there were supporters adding of gender identity. The committee seemed focused at first about protecting people that were going to transition or had transitioned.

But I and others pointed out the issue is a bit more complex than that. For instance, there are people such as myself who don't fit the gender binary. Are we not to be protected against loss of job? Not to be protected against discrimination in housing?

The sticky wicket in at least one of the commission members minds seemed to be the issue of locker rooms, gyms and bathrooms. What if a man goes in to the woman's bathroom? Well first of all. if some one is transitioned entirely, likely you wouldn't spot them unless you have some thing about carefully scrutinizing the other people in the rest room or locker room. Even some one as myself-strongly transgendered but not planning on transitioning would probably be hard to spot, well OK in a rest room- and we certainly wouldn't go into an all woman's facility; the genitals don't match.

Not only that-quite frankly where ever possible I look either for unisex bathrooms or places with single stalls and a locking door, but on occasion I have gone into a crowded woman's room if absolutely have to. Go in, do my thing sitting down like a genetic woman, wash hands, check hair and leave.

One of the speakers at the forum was a lesbian whom I suppose might be construed as mannish or at least androgyne in appearance. She related how she was harassed by a woman in the women's rooms for being in the wrong rest room. Well I know, having done it accidentally, you don't go into a men's room dressed en femme because there is a fantasy about umm making it with a transgendered or transsexual person and this one man was not going to take no for an answer. I was concerned enough that I had a male friend in the group I was with, walk me to my car when I was ready to leave just in case.

So when it comes to rest rooms creeps are creeps even if they are in the "right" rest room.

As for showers and places where there is nudity involved, those are sex segregated places, and a transgendered person in the middle of transitioning or some one such as myself who's not transitioning can be excluded pretty easily I would think.

One speaker brought up work place issues and the example of a construction worker whose transitioning complaining because she can't wear high heels to do some sort of construction job. Well it is already settled law that workplaces have the right to enforce work related equipment rules. Another speaker felt that it might be difficult to pass a law that is precise enough to be enforceable, and granted courts do throw out laws because of vagueness to the point of unenforceability but it seems there you are trying to prohibit something (Like loud parties).

Here is a relevant counter example. There are a number of definitions of religion-and yet we don't say well that's too vague to enforce. Who would you exclude? Atheists? Granted some on the religious right might want to do that but in our society we define these classes of protected people in the broadest way possible.

I hope seeing a broad spectrum of transgendered people gave the committee a little bit more to go on. They hope to have a recommendation ready by November and a forum related to that before taking something to the City Commission. That is probably where the real opposition will emerge and all kinds of red herrings and bizarre hypotheticals will just pop from the sky.

Link to LJWORLD article.

Other links from The Force:

Now It's Showers!

Sex in Humans: It's a delicate balance

Secrets of Bug Person Exposed!

The Tyranny of the Dichotomous Mind
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