Friday, April 29, 2016

Bathroom Accident

These anti-trans bathroom bills prove conservatives cannot think things through.

Don't they realize the results would freak them out more? These are often the same bigots who want gays to act straight because they do not want to see anyone defying their norms. "Go back in the closet!" they shout. But such laws would force conservatives to acknowledge the existence of trans folk. They cannot say "go back in the closet" when they are using the same bathroom.

Of course, conservatives have been using the same bathrooms with trans people since trans people have existed - conservatives just didn't know it. But now it is with trans people of the opposite gender than before, so it will become totally obvious. They are blindly destroying their own blissful obliviousness.

What are they thinking? Conservatives either want to encourage anti-trans violence or acclimate men and women to sharing the same restrooms. And I don't think they will openly cop to wanting either outcome. Clearly, the goal is to shame trans people and give cops an excuse to arrest them if they try to avoid an awkward washroom confrontation or defy the law. But I guarantee you that some - if not most - trans people will obey the law, ironically turning compliance into defiance. Talk about transformative.

Then there are the logistics. Loathing both social engineers and city planners alike, it is predictable that conservatives did not think of that. Specifically, consider the issue of urinals: Trans women in the men's room cannot use them anymore, so this will increase demand for toilets. Urinals really exist to benefit building owners rather than guys going on the go because they save space. Toilet stalls take up more square footage. From a capitalist standpoint, bathrooms are wasted space because they do not generate rents and require greater maintenance. Therefore, building owners are incentivized to cut corners there. These laws are already costing their localities jobs and tourist dollars, and business leaders are calling for repeal. I imagine their zeal runs deep because they also do not want to rip out walls to expand bathrooms.

Others have already covered the more important aspects of this story. The myth that trans people are child predators has been utterly debunked. Indeed, as some have pointed out, Republican lawmakers are far more likely to get arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms. Samantha Bee's segment was particularly brilliant in exposing who the true predators are.* And the civil rights angle was summed up quite nicely in this tweet: "[I]t was never about water fountains in the 50s, and it's not about bathrooms now." But, like Thomas Jefferson, I am a bit of an infrastructure geek and looking at how conservatives think is in my bailiwick, so hopefully this is a fresh angle on the story.

Excuse the bathroom humor, but this will humiliate conservatives any way it shakes out. Looking bigoted, foolish, or weak in inevitable defeat is just the tip of the issue. If they win, they lose. It will turbocharge tolerance and hasten the addition of unisex restrooms already underway. Not to mention the unintended short-term discomfort they cause themselves when they go to pee and encounter someone in the restroom who is of the opposite gender by every single metric except their birth certificate. All for some short-term "family values" saber-rattling that they obviously did not think through beforehand.

Put another way: Dude, you are peeing on your shoes.


* And amazingly, she did it without mentioning the Duggars! Before it was revealed that Josh Duggar molested his sisters, he was campaigning against LBGT rights specifically invoking the specter of trans people in bathrooms. Indignant Duggar-defender and failed presidential contender Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) had also floated the notion that trans people are predators. It seems that predators and their apologists tend to project their activities onto others. Of course, another close associate of Huckabee and the Duggars, Bill Gothard has a rapey history as well. I am starting to see a pattern.

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