For the previous articles in this series please click on the links below.
Chapter one: Transgender: Hell bound or Holy?
Chapter two: Gender Optional?
No matter which side of the issue you come down on if you’re not a rabid activist I’m sure you can agree with me that most of the discussion that has taken place in the media on transgender issues has been inane, naive, and obtuse. It’s little more than sloganeering that is then converted into breathless absurdity by the other side and parrotted back. Neither side is immune. So I’m going to break down some of the worst arguments and explain why they’re bad and what each side should be saying instead.
- It’s not about hate it’s about safety (Traditionalists, bathroom specific)
There is such a nugget of truth to this argument, it’s just that what it’s used to justify is not really congruent to what is being discussed.
The way it is usually presented on the traditional values side is that the only proper way to classify who uses which bathroom is by biological sex. If you were born male and have male parts you ought to use the men’s room. Seems to have an elegant sort of logic to it, right?
There are a number of troubling implication to this argument, however. Often if you
bring up to a traditionalist that many transgendered women may look outwardly as “womanly” as any woman they’ve ever seen they’ll respond that then the law wouldn’t impact them because no one would ever know that they had used the mismatched restroom. These are the same traditionalist that are supposed to believe that we are a nation “of laws and not of men”. When has “it’s only illegal if you get caught” ever been valid legal reasoning? Suppose someone accidentally opens the stall door where a transgendered woman is urinating and sees that she has a male part, is that the moment she becomes subject to the law?
The issue becomes more nuanced confused when we expand the application to changing rooms and showers. These are areas where detection, if you will, of a person’s biological sex is unavoidable. Still I think, if we assume that everyone involved is being honest about their identity, we’re talking more about discomfort than safety.
It’s worth noting also, in counter to the argument, that predators that want your child, if they want to get at them in the bathroom, changing room, or locker room already know how to dress as the opposite sex in order to gain access and already show a predilection toward breaking laws. Once you present the bathroom issue as protecting women and children from predators the breathless absurdity that comes back is….
- You just think all transgender people are child molesters (Cultural revolutionists, bathroom specific)
Umm… No. What traditionalists do think, however, is that people are inherently sinful. In other words, all people look for ways to subvert and break the laws of God and man. We each have our own prefered laws to break and ways of breaking them but we all do it. For some it’s the posted speed limit and for some it’s the bodies and spirits of little children. Traditionalists are intent on protecting your children and their children by any means necessary. This sometimes means that their rhetoric goes too far, lumping people into broad categories based on attributes and behaviours that they see as red flags for these more dangerous behaviours, but turning it around on them does you no good. You have to get dirty to sling mud.
- God doesn’t make mistakes (Traditionalist)
Nice start, guys but you seem to be saying that since God doesn’t make mistakes that a person couldn’t possibly be born transgendered (or gay). My question to you is how do you account for your jacked up nature? Remember God didn’t make the mistake, but he did give Adam and Eve the liberty to make mistakes, and we know how that turned out.
- I was born this way (Cultural Revolutionist)
Perhaps you were. And? Does it necessarily follow that everything about you that you were born with, behaviourally, should be carried through the rest of your life as right and proper? Do you still breast feed/ drink formula? Do you poop in your pants and have someone else clean you up? Understand please that I’m not comparing transgender identity with lack of potty training. I would submit that the “I was born this way” argument itself is making that comparison.
- This is a continuation of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s (Cultural Revolutionists)
Just to state the obvious, by no stretch of the imagination would most, if not all, of the thought leaders of the 60s and 70s civil rights movement recognize the current state of affairs. I’m relatively certain that most of those thought leaders would have identified wholeheartedly with what I’m referring to here as the traditionalists. Many of them were ministers within their individual faiths and sects.
- This has nothing to do with civil rights (Traditionalist)
The movement for transgender rights specifically and LGBT rights generally is, by definition, a civil rights movement. It’s not connected to THE civil rights movement in the way they would like it to be, but it is a civil rights movement none the less. Civil rights are the rights that are common to all citizens. Therefore the struggle for legal acceptance, recognition, and accommodation is a civil rights struggle. It doesn’t do your countermovement any good to fail to recognize the truth of what you’re facing. Real people have real felt needs around this subject.
The last thing anyone should do in any argument is argue against something that your opponent is not arguing for. It’s bad form and it’s a waste of time. You may win short term victories, but long term the people whose lives your victories are supposed to improve will only feel betrayed when nothing meaningfully changes.
If you hear someone making these arguments in person, think carefully before you engage, the bait of the bad argument is tempting because it seems so right at a glance. If you hear it on the radio or tv, just change the channel. Honor the values you hold dear, no matter which side you’re on, by giving your time and financial support to those people, programs, and organizations who will do the hard work of making an honest and transparent case for what they believe is right. I’d rather be ruled by honest men and women with whom I thoroughly disagree with than rule with dishonest men and women who I seem to agree with in every particular. At least I know the former won’t sacrifice me to further their agenda.