Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Rise of the Bathroom Police

[Massachusetts still is wrangling with a notorious bill that brings out all self-appointed guardians of morality. If you’ve noticed its head having been raised again in the news, read this post from last year for helpful background. Then ask yourself: when are we ever going to stop doing what we do to people we don’t like?]

Spring of 2009 brought a bill into the Massachusetts legislature, urging upon the citizenry a curious restriction on use of public restrooms–designed of course to further punish and harass people whose only offense to polite society is to be different. Such legislation and its proponents are not to be feared, but resisted.

Here we are again with another issue that evades proper categories of “rights,” “anti-discrimination,” “harassment,” and is plunged instead into that ugly little place called sex, one that Americans have the most problem thinking about, dealing with and discussing.

A bill before our legislature relates to gender-based discrimination and hate crimes, and is seized on by clergy, “family” orgs and, with help of the press, effectually dubbed “the Bathroom bill.” Other days have seen the “NIMBY” designation (“Not In My Backyard”) which had to do with feared encroachments of anything different and unusual, including the presence of nonwhites in neighborhoods.

Now it’s about public places and people we don’t know or understand yet, largely because we haven’t wanted to. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is the motto in this land of the free and home of the clueless. If the past has seen posses and vigilantes, modern times calls for Bathroom Police (BP), who are scarier than the proverbial monsters under your bed.

This new bill, which one would think legislators would run in any direction but at, is sponsored by–whoa: 100 of them, including our own Mike Costello, to whom I here tip my hat as a man of courage and enlightenment–as long as he doesn’t back down. And I’m among all who say the pending legislation certainly needs work, as bills of any kind do at initial stages. But the BP will have none of that–they will flog the idea as they would a mean, red-headed kid, hoping thereby to stifle all debate and assert an American version of sharia (Islamist law).

This should be solely about assurance of rights and bans on discrimination and harassment towards transgendered persons, and how such can best be done. But it is not, thanks to the BP. It is, to use their very words–“depraved,” “perverse,” “immoral,” “wicked” and “unloving”–and right away you know we’ve got a real BP on our hands. Do not fear it. Fear instead those who consider anything but heterosexuality and original gender as abominations. Henceforth you will hear chapter and verse from Luddite interpretations of the Good Book and voices of religious ignoramuses, hoping that we are all impressionably knee-jerked by nature. You will find them emerging from their fave coffee shop, having just used therein a unisex bathroom perhaps therein, and thinking nothing of it; after all, a caffeine fix trumps moral principles, if only long enough to get it. For years we have all shared restrooms with people whose gender or dressing habits we were not aware of–not to mention senators and congressmen whose shoes edged towards ours from the next stall and we just assumed they had big feet.

Oh, but quoth they, this is about places where people are together to indulge bodily functions. Yep, everybody gotta go. So the problem is how best to manage this without forcing resort to alleys or walls outside bus stations, as I have seen in Italy. The clincher is that the BP never think of anyone but themselves. “Protecting women and children” is but the red herring used to call people names and rain down judgment on them for being, well, different. Yeah, where is the love, now?

They never think that the transgendered have long been vulnerable to violence, sometimes by friends, family and fellow churchmen of the BP. Their only dilemma then is whether to condemn the behavior or the people who do it, and that ain’t never gonna happen. That’s where piety and prophetic words and action hit a stone wall.

While new resident of a Western city, I received a phone call from one who quickly and honestly identified as transgender. No other clergy would come to serve as chaplain and lead a prayer at an annual Memorial for transgendered victims of violence. I agreed to so serve, and what I heard and beheld that night is unforgettable–not information gleaned from the news media, which only reported that such and such person had been killed under vague conditions. As I sat and listened to the solemn litany, without other comment, of names, dates and circumstances of area citizens who had been beaten, kicked, bludgeoned, shot, cut and dragged to death, in shocking number, I can’t tell you what it did to me.

It was not a large though a significant crowd, and I learned later that many avoid the annual recital due to fear of public exposure and thereby loss of jobs, careers, professional contacts and, of course, the hazards of similar violence towards themselves. It occurred to me that some self-righteous bastard might weigh in on me, to rid the kingdom of God of just another false prophet. And who else will speak for all of that?

Here’s what we must do: get a full, legal, constitutional hearing on the civil rights and liberties in this matter; create a final bill that is humane, sensitive, fair and, yes, loving towards all. And let the Bathroom Police have their say but by all means heed them not.

They but cloud the air and give us the creeps.

3 Responses to “Rise of the Bathroom Police”

  1. There’s good info here. I did a search on Google, Keep up the good work mate!

  2. Thank you.

    Each year, reading out the list of our dead seems a little bit harder. What was it, 134 candles this year?

    Each year, we know that our name could be on next year’s list, and probably not from a “clean” murder, but a prolonged and agonizing death, with a closed-casket funeral.

    That one cleric was present in your ceremony was wonderful, and gives hope. Thank you.

    • More and more clergy openly support gay rights and lifestyles, but not much change in their support for transgender, so that’s the next hurdle.

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