A (Genuinely) Modest Proposal on North Carolina’s Bathroom Law

 

shutterstock_409315246As a North Carolinian and sometime professional person, I have had the chance to see both sides of the now globally notorious Bathroom Debate of 2016. At a gender studies conference I attended, the host urged audience members to go into “whatever bathroom you like.” But at local church and school events, I’ve personally heard great praise for “the bravery of our state legislature.”

If you get past the polemics and invective, you can hear the basic arguments on either side. The backers of the law are worried about creeps going into girls’ bathrooms with impunity. Having a daughter, I sympathize with that view. The opponents feel that transgender people don’t deserve to be stigmatized when they need to go to the bathroom like everyone else. I used to have a boss who read that the real business of America was conducted in the men’s room and — considering himself a real businessman — would try to discuss quarterly targets at the urinal, so I understand how the trans-folks feel on some level too.

I hate to say it, but Governor Pat McCrory and legislature brought this on themselves with sloppy legislating. First, the bill included an unrelated provision (that McCrory has now said should be repealed) that eliminates the right for anyone to bring a discrimination action in state court. One could still bring an action in federal court. All good conservatives are also good federalists so, as a good conservative, I would rather these cases tried by a North Carolina judge than a federal one. That’s better for the plaintiff, the defense, and for justice.

The bathroom provision has an odd, relevant aspect to it. It says you must go to the bathroom listed on your birth certificate. We all know that nobody carries their birth certificate around with them, so this seems a little odd at first and, of course, transgender people feel that their birth gender was in error. As it happens, an actual (post-operation) transsexual would not have a problem, because there was already a clause in state law that said that a person who had a sex change operation could petition a court to have their gender changed on their birth certificate (see § 130A-118). I am guessing — and just guessing — that the legislators knew that and mirrored the bathroom statute to tie to the birth certificate standard in the existing transsexual law.

So, here is my modest proposal: Allow transgender people to make the same petition to our good old North Carolina courts to change their birth certificates as transsexual people (i.e., give a judge discretion over the matter even if the applicant hasn’t had sex-reassignment surgery). This would allow a judge to make a reasonable judgment about the seriousness of the person’s desire to identify as a different gender and permit them to change their birth certificate. I might also change the documentation requirement to drivers license or state ID, for the commonsense reason that the drivers license is what everyone carries around with them. The motor vehicle department already uses the birth certificate as a proof of identity for getting a drivers license, so anybody who gets their birth certificate changed could also get their drivers license changed.

This compromise keeps the creeps out of the girls bathrooms and maintains the probity of the separate sex bathrooms that the vast majority of people find appropriate for good cultural, religious, and practical reasons. It also gives sincere transgender people the right to identify as they choose and the respect of society for their choice, if they are serious enough to go before a judge to make it official.

As a conservative, I am not against change. But I do expect change to be rational and narrowly tailored to the problem at hand. In theory, my compromise solves the problem, addresses the concerns of both sides, and would save my tax dollars for real services instead of a protracted court fight between the federal and state governments.

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  1. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Kate Braestrup:Okay, but in the original post, John solved the problem of creepy men going into the ladies’ with impunity.

    So why aren’t y’all on board with that?

    If someone is willing to go to all the trouble of petitioning the court and changing their documents, they’re probably pretty freakin’ sincere. They may or may not be mentally ill, but they’re definitely not just “girl-for-a-day,” and since their mental illness doesn’t affect me (though it is painful for them) this ceases to be my problem. Right?

    Correct Kate, But can’t you just feel it in your gut…the next step is the locker room. At least in the women’s bathroom all the hyper sensitive issues occur in private stalls.

    • #31
  2. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    cdor:

    Kate Braestrup:Okay, but in the original post, John solved the problem of creepy men going into the ladies’ with impunity.

    So why aren’t y’all on board with that?

    If someone is willing to go to all the trouble of petitioning the court and changing their documents, they’re probably pretty freakin’ sincere. They may or may not be mentally ill, but they’re definitely not just “girl-for-a-day,” and since their mental illness doesn’t affect me (though it is painful for them) this ceases to be my problem. Right?

    Correct Kate, But can’t you just feel it in your gut…the next step is the locker room. At least in the women’s bathroom all the hyper sensitive issues occur in private stalls.

    The law in Charlotte included locker rooms. This encompasses bathrooms, locker rooms, shower facilites, etc… all of it.

    • #32
  3. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    You all are missing the most important issue here, which has to do with federalism and with administrative agency overreach. Bathrooms are entirely incidental.

    • #33
  4. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Lucy Pevensie:You all are missing the most important issue here, which has to do with federalism and with administrative agency overreach. Bathrooms are entirely incidental.

    yup, this has farther reaching implications then just who goes into what bathroom. Pray this goes in front of the right judges.

    • #34
  5. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Bob W:I’m not the first person to ask the question: Even if you believe transgender is a real thing, what is the specific reason that such a person would have for wanting to use only bathrooms of their preferred gender? That is, the opposite of their birth gender. Why would they want to go into such a bathroom?

    We’re talking here about people who have not had the surgery yet. ( If they had, it would be a moot point. It’s the pre- surgery people who are driving the issue.) So again, why would such people feel that it is so important to avoid the bathrooms assigned to their physical gender?

    Because the surgery makes it real and there would be no issue.

    • #35
  6. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    The mentally ill are literally in charge of this asylum.

    • #36
  7. Matt Upton Inactive
    Matt Upton
    @MattUpton

    Mate De: Anyone can tell that this is not about rights for transfolk it’s about the federal government controlling the states. North Carolina should not back down, if a state can’t determine who goes to the bathroom we have no freedom.

    It started as a local city ordinance and snowballed from there. I find the problem not that the feds are dictating bathroom policy, but that any level of government believed this was under their scope of regulation.

    The left fired the first shots with the city ordinance forcing private businesses to conform to a single policy, but the right have used all the same weapons to legislate cultural norms. If a state can determine who goes to the bathroom, we have no freedom.

    • #37
  8. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    John Morgan:This compromise keeps the creeps out of the girls bathrooms and maintains the probity of the separate sex bathrooms that the vast majority of people find appropriate for good cultural, religious, and practical reasons. It also gives sincere transgender people the right to identify as they choose and the respect of society for their choice, if they are serious enough to go before a judge to make it official.

    It does not keep the creeps out any more than a driver license keeps drunks off the highway.  Your proposal requires a “Potty Cop” at the door to check the driver license of every person going in.  What about younger “girls” that don’t have a license yet?

    This whole issue is meant to be a distraction to the fact that our country is in serious trouble financially.  Like Rob’s post pointed out, most of the jobs created since Obama have literally been “burger flipper” jobs.  Our economy is horrible, our borders are wide open, our standing as world leader has diminished, and all the media can talk about is which bathroom a nut case is allowed to use.  We are in TROUBLE.

    • #38
  9. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    SpiritO'78:The frustrating part about all of the bathroom non-sense is laws are being re-written and exemptions carved out for such a tiny minority. The safety of women and children be damned. Transgender issues are meant to be divisive.

    exactly , and to divert attention from real problems the left has created. The list of which is to long to transcribe on this beautiful day in SC.

    Bob W:I’m not the first person to ask the question: Even if you believe transgender is a real thing, what is the specific reason that such a person would have for wanting to use only bathrooms of their preferred gender? That is, the opposite of their birth gender. Why would they want to go into such a bathroom?

    We’re talking here about people who have not had the surgery yet. ( If they had, it would be a moot point. It’s the pre- surgery people who are driving the issue.) So again, why would such people feel that it is so important to avoid the bathrooms assigned to their physical gender?

    Because the surgery makes it real and there would be no issue.

    • #39
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    One Libertarian Position on Gendered Restrooms: There is no need for a law to dictate who can and cannot use a restroom. The decision of how to manage one’s restrooms should fall upon the owner of said restrooms.

    There are many jurisdictions which, up until recently, had no law whatsoever governing restrooms. The signs on the door in such jurisdictions have been merely advisory. This is as it should be, IMHO.

    In the case of government-owned restrooms, the policy decision should remain with the level of government which actually operates the restroom. Needless to say, in such cases the gov’t body’s policy cannot violate the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean the policy must be dictated by Congress or a state legislature.

    In the case of public schools, if they don’t want to be slaves to the politicians then they should privatize anyways. No government is ordering Hillsdale to open up its restrooms, as far as I know.

    This modest proposal doesn’t resolve the issue in perpetuity across the Universe to the satisfaction of all parties, but then no political proposal ever does. No serious pundit ever claimed liberty was a utopian panacea.

    • #40
  11. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    Pilli: Our economy is horrible, our borders are wide open, our standing as world leader has diminished, and all the media can talk about is which bathroom a nut case is allowed to use. We are in TROUBLE.

    But I’m sure all our troubles, soon forgotten AFTER Ryan meets with Trump. Right?

    • #41
  12. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    PHCheese:

    SpiritO’78:The frustrating part about all of the bathroom non-sense is laws are being re-written and exemptions carved out for such a tiny minority. The safety of women and children be damned. Transgender issues are meant to be divisive.

    exactly , and to divert attention from real problems the left has created. The list of which is to long to transcribe on this beautiful day in SC.

    Bob W:I’m not the first person to ask the question: Even if you believe transgender is a real thing, what is the specific reason that such a person would have for wanting to use only bathrooms of their preferred gender? That is, the opposite of their birth gender. Why would they want to go into such a bathroom?

    We’re talking here about people who have not had the surgery yet. ( Ifthey had, it would be a moot point. It’s the pre- surgery people who are driving the issue.) So again, why would such people feel that it is so important to avoid the bathrooms assigned to their physical gender?

    Because the surgery makes it real and there would be no issue.

    I’m no expert on this, for sure, but doesn’t a transgender person with “original equipment” still dress and look like their preferred sex? If so, it seems using the bathroom of their preferred sex would actually be less disruptive. I am NOT talking about locker rooms. That is a bridge way too far.

    • #42
  13. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    I agree that toilet facilities are great places to do your business, but if it’s wrong to keep trans people out of a single-sex toilet facility because that’s where business is conducted, then it’s wrong to keep anyone of the opposite sex out.  Logically, all single-sex toilet facilities should be abolished.

    • #43
  14. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    John Morgan: We all know that nobody carries their birth certificate around with them, so this seems a little odd at first and, of course, transgender people feel that their birth gender was in error.

    Are we to formulate our laws and societal practices based on ‘feelings’ of a few individuals or on ‘facts’ all can see and understand given normal mental capacities?

    • #44
  15. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Culture may change, but human nature doesn’t.   Most people want privacy when they’re ‘vulnerable’ (changing clothes, showering and going to the bathroom, etc) from all people, but especially from the opposite sex – for good reason.

    Its not that I don’t have compassion for people who sincerely wish they were the opposite gender.   I do – it must be quite hard.  But why should the majority be robbed of their natural need for privacy for the marginal happiness of a few?

    A transgender woman called a radio show in my city last week and said, “we just want to be safe.”.    So do we all, so do we all.

    • #45
  16. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Pilli: Our economy is horrible, our borders are wide open, our standing as world leader has diminished, and all the media can talk about is which bathroom a nut case is allowed to use. We are in TROUBLE.

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    Well, everything is relative and depends on one’s point-of-view. Perception is everything. How does one define “horrible”?

    When the nations of the world are ranked by GDP-per-capita, (according to the UN) the US is #12 out of 194. Does beating out 94% of the planet qualify as “horrible”?

    The US may go up or down on that list over time, but does it necessarily follow that any movement down the list qualifies as “horrible”? Is it necessary for the US to have the same GDP-per-capita as, say, Monaco (which holds the #1 spot)?

    Of course, GDP-per-capita is merely one metric of economic health, but in virtually every measure the US is near the top of the planetary rankings. Movement up and down those rankings should indeed serve as impetus for policy decisions, but “horrible”? Really?

    It seems to me true horror is experienced by those who live in the countries at the bottom 10% of the list, not the top.

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #46
  17. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    John Morgan: I used to have a boss who read that the real business of America was conducted in the men’s room and — considering himself a real businessman — would try to discuss quarterly targets at the urinal

    Now that’s the kind of creep we need to keep out of men’s rooms.

    • #47
  18. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Taking in the view from 30,000 feet, I see two important issues at stake:

    1. The Left’s cultural push to eliminate gender distinctions — particularly the masculine male end of the spectrum, and
    2. The new norm of having to have your state of being validated by the state on some level, whether it’s your same sex relationship in “marriage,” or your misperceived sex identity on your driver’s license/birth certificate.

    Not long ago, most everyone handled these situations on a case by case basis with compassion and common decency. Now everyone is scrambling to co-opt the state’s power to support “their” side of a given issue.

    The Left is rending the social fabric of this country from top to bottom, and the Right seems helpless to do anything about it.

    As I always like to point out, at the height of the Soviet Union, only ten percent of the people were members of the communist party. It only takes one bad apple… and we’ve turned the levers of power over to a whole bunch of leftists.

    • #48
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I like it. That takes care of the creep problem. Creeps are not going to live as the other gender.

    • #49
  20. Lazy_Millennial Inactive
    Lazy_Millennial
    @LazyMillennial

    Bryan G. Stephens:I like it. That takes care of the creep problem. Creeps are not going to live as the other gender.

    You underestimate the dedicated nature of the truly creepy. It’ll help prevent the lazy ones though. And the creeps under 18, who presumably can’t get their birth certificate changed without their legal guardians.

    • #50
  21. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Basil Fawlty:I agree that toilet facilities are great places to do your business, but if it’s wrong to keep trans people out of a single-sex toilet facility because that’s where business is conducted, then it’s wrong to keep anyone of the opposite sex out. Logically, all single-sex toilet facilities should be abolished.

    I was in business for a long time and never found any desire from either myself or any customer of any sex to conduct negotiations in the bathroom. Sorry that is just plain weird!

    • #51
  22. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    John Morgan: I used to have a boss who read that the real business of America was conducted in the men’s room and — considering himself a real businessman — would try to discuss quarterly targets at the urinal

    Are you sure he wasn’t just hitting on you?

    • #52
  23. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    All bathrooms should have urinals. Why should we force these folks with male junk to sit?

    • #53
  24. Poindexter Member
    Poindexter
    @Poindexter

    Bathroom use is not really the sticky issue here. The activists focus on that aspect because it’s the least controversial part of this effort. What happens there is private except in extreme cases.

    The real worry is about locker rooms. Some dude saunters into the women’s locker room at the Y, or college gym, and cops a free look or gets his jollies by scaring the women inside. If you object, you’re a bigot and subject to suit. Don’t bother calling the cops, it’s all perfectly legal. The activists want you to believe it’s never happened and never will, but then look at the things we never thought would happen that are now law.

    That is the issue that needs to be addressed.

    • #54
  25. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Pilli: It does not keep the creeps out any more than a driver license keeps drunks off the highway. Your proposal requires a “Potty Cop” at the door to check the driver license of every person going in. What about younger “girls” that don’t have a license yet?

    To be fair, without this proposal, you still need a potty cop to keep people going to the bathroom of their biological gender.

    I have actively mocked the left’s efforts to remake reality on the topic of trans issues, but people on this site have gone overboard in reaction to the bathroom issue.

    Trans individuals have been using the opposite bathroom of their biological gender for as long as gendered bathrooms have existed.  Somehow it was never a crisis.

    • #55
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Lazy_Millennial:

    Bryan G. Stephens:I like it. That takes care of the creep problem. Creeps are not going to live as the other gender.

    You underestimate the dedicated nature of the truly creepy. It’ll help prevent the lazy ones though. And the creeps under 18, who presumably can’t get their birth certificate changed without their legal guardians.

    I don’t think it would be that bad. Most creeps are creeps in secret. This would out then.

    • #56
  27. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Frank Soto: Trans individuals have been using the opposite bathroom of their biological gender for as long as gendered bathrooms have existed. Somehow it was never a crisis.

    Right, but I’m pretty sure North Carolina’s law was just a clumsy attempt to preempt the Left. Now that government is so important in our lives, it’s every man (cause) for himself (itself). Obama smashed the pinata and were all scrambling to get our “fair share” of the (power) candy.

    • #57
  28. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Misthiocracy:One Libertarian Position on Gendered Restrooms: There is no need for a law to dictate who can and cannot use a restroom. The decision of how to manage one’s restrooms should fall upon the owner of said restrooms.

    Racist. ;)

    • #58
  29. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Poindexter:Bathroom use is not really the sticky issue here. The activists focus on that aspect because it’s the least controversial part of this effort. What happens there is private except in extreme cases.

    The real worry is about locker rooms. Some dude saunters into the women’s locker room at the Y, or college gym, and cops a free look or gets his jollies by scaring the women inside. If you object, you’re a bigot and subject to suit. Don’t bother calling the cops, it’s all perfectly legal. The activists want you to believe it’s never happened and never will, but then look at the things we never thought would happen that are now law.

    That is the issue that needs to be addressed.

    The first time I really heard about this issue, it was a woman complaining that a man was using the women’s locker room at a private health club (Planet Fitness).    She complained and Planet Fitness revoked her membership because of her “bigotry”.

    • #59
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Frank Soto:

    Pilli: It does not keep the creeps out any more than a driver license keeps drunks off the highway. Your proposal requires a “Potty Cop” at the door to check the driver license of every person going in. What about younger “girls” that don’t have a license yet?

    To be fair, without this proposal, you still need a potty cop to keep people going to the bathroom of their biological gender.

    I have actively mocked the left’s efforts to remake reality on the topic of trans issues, but people on this site have gone overboard in reaction to the bathroom issue.

    Trans individuals have been using the opposite bathroom of their biological gender for as long as gendered bathrooms have existed. Somehow it was never a crisis.

    Because now, a man, dressed as a man, can just go in and then the property owners cannot kick them out. At least, that is clearly where we are headed.

    • #60
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