by Paul Moomjean
paulmoomjean@yahoo.com

America has reached her newest national internal debate. In our post-modern culture, with moral and sociological relativism, the issue of who can enter which bathroom is no longer dominated by black and white simplicity or male and female distinctions. Instead, with states like North Carolina trying to draw clear lines about who can or cannot use certain bathrooms and stories coming out of Target and Walmart, America is about to have a long debate over who gets to use which toilet and where.  

If there is one certainty, many Middle Americans are not ready to move toward a more “progressive” stance. North Carolina passed a law claiming that people must use the appropriate bathroom based on their birth certificate gender identification. The Obama administration shot back with the threat of defunding that state’s schools. 

“This is no longer just a North Carolina issue. This impacts every state, every university and almost every employee in the United States of America,” the state’s Gov. Pat McCrory said. “All those will have to comply with new definitions of requirements by the federal government regarding restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities in both the private and public sector.”

And the governor is correct. This is a national issue, but in a nation with conflicting values throughout the country, will there ever be consensus? The biggest obstacle to allowing those who feel they are not the gender they were assigned at birth to use the bathrooms of their choice is the fear of child predators. 

“To use our children and their educational futures as pawns to advance an agenda that will ultimately open those same children up to exploitation at the hands of sexual predators is, by far, the sickest example of the depths the … administration will stoop to (to) ‘fundamentally transform our nation,’ ” Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said.

While this is a rational fear, I would argue that I’m not worried that a transgender woman would harm a child, but instead I’m worried that a heterosexual pervert would use the anti-harassment laws to creep into the girls’ bathroom. There is a scene in The Shawshank Redemption about the “sisters” who rape the main character Andy Dufresne, and when Andy mentions he’s not homosexual, Morgan Freeman’s character Red aptly says, “Neither are they. You have to be human first. They don’t qualify.” The 700,000 (approximately .3 percent of the country) transgender human beings living in America are human; the perverts are not. While we can cry that many will abuse these laws, there are still human beings at the center of this conversation. 

The frustration in America is causing a lot of resistance. Recently Target changed its bathroom policy, allowing those who feel themselves to be women to use the women’s bathroom and those who feel themselves to be men to use the men’s bathroom.

“In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways,” a Target statement said. “Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” 

Target’s policy prompted the American Family Association to initiate a boycott that has produced over 700,000 signatures. AFA President Tim Wildmon claims the quick response is because “Everybody knows who Target is, and it’s an easy-to-understand issue.”

But is it? Aimee Toms of Connecticut would argue otherwise. She was harassed in a Walmart restroom by a woman who thought she was a transgender woman, but she was just a woman with a short haircut and who was slightly overweight. She was called a “lesbian” and “whore” by Internet commentators after posting her story on Facebook.

If a witch hunt begins, who will call back the ones holding pitchforks and fire? I suppose my greatest fear is that some truly wonderful people will be the victims of liberal political leveraging and right-wing potshots. Transgender people are not a problem; they are a people to better understand. 

To argue this issue is cut and dried is foolishness. To argue that there aren’t numerous concerns is simply ignorance. But to argue that we just tell people to use the bathroom God and nature assigned them is not recognizing the complexity of what makes us man and woman and, therefore, human.