Monday, August 11, 2008

"Not in my Shower!"

As far as names of political groups go, that's a pretty hard one to beat for sheer silliness. I also think that "Not in my Shower!" would be a great name for an exploitation film; almost as good as "Hooker Riot".

Anyway, a group in Montgomery County, Maryland, calling itself "Not in my Shower", wants to make sure that transvestites don't break into their homes and use their showers. Actually, no, that would be stupid. Instead, they're opposing laws that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgendered people. They are afraid that, if it becomes illegal to discriminate against transgendered people in hiring and such, the natural outcome would be cross-dressers hanging out in female gym showers and raping women, and nobody could do anything to stop it! Okay, actually, that's pretty stupid too...

First, we have to understand that several parts of the country are passing laws to prevent discrimination against people based on their gender identity. I tend to be skeptical that you can actually legislate away bigotry. It seems like boycotts are usually more effective than laws in getting businesses to act civilized. On the other hand, I can't imagine that you can get very many people to sign up for a transgender rights boycott, and I would also imagine that many businesses and public places have issues with transgendered people. As Ned Sublette once sang, "small towns don't like it when somebody falls between sexes." But, most importantly, I really can't think of many jobs in which somebody falling between sexes would legitimately prevent them from doing the work. Maybe wet nurse.

Okay, so the law makes sense, I suppose. Now, the reasoning behind the group "Not in my Shower" seems to be based on the idea that a man could hang out in a public shower or restroom that was designed for women, provided that he claimed to identify as a woman. So, there could, possibly, be men dressing like women, in order to hang out in the women's shower room and get their rocks off, who would then claim the right to do so. This is all very plausible... provided that we're all living in the film Porky's.

I do think it's good that groups like this (is it a 'women's group'?) exist in order to air out and dispel just these sorts of delusions. I don't think that they're made up of people who are hateful; just afraid and confused. And most people haven't met a lot of transgendered people. I've known a few people who were legitimately convinced that they were born the wrong gender. And, to be honest, I was usually convinced that they were born the wrong gender too. More importantly, all of them I've known were the sort of people who would never dream of hassling anyone else in a public place, especially as they were frequently themselves hassled in public places! For the most part, they just wanted to be left alone.

Also, let's be honest- there really isn't a possible "loophole" that would allow anyone to hassle, molest, or rape a stranger in a public shower. It's just not in danger of being legalized. I think that the issue needs to be put on the table, and people need to talk about their fears, and work out their differences, and then all hit the showers together.


Holly said...

Read an article last week about a school in Thailand (high school level, I believe) that has added transgender toilets for those who aren't comfortable with the other two options. Apparently there are a huge number of Thai adolescents who are born boys but want to grow up to be girls, but most school rules require them to wear boy's school uniforms. (They are allowed the same cosmetics and hair styles as the girls, though)

One girl interviewed in the article (actual girl) (I think) said she thinks there are just as many boys like that in most societies, but most societies aren't kind enough to tolerate/nurture those folks.

The end of the article mentioned that it can still be very difficult for the nouveau femme to get a job in the professional realm.

Rufus said...

Yeah, I guess it would be.

I wonder if tolerating them actually decreases their ranks. It would seem like playing a greater emphasis on traditional gender characteristics would lead more people to think that they were transgendered than really are. When I'm around really macho men, it feels harder to "make the cut" of male, so to speak.

Hiromi said...

We could just make like the Germans and have shared locker rooms.

I tend to be skeptical that you can actually legislate away bigotry. It seems like boycotts are usually more effective than laws in getting businesses to act civilized.

I agree that the legislation doesn't eliminate bigotry. The problem is that some transgendered folks need a job *now*, or housing *now*, and can't wait for more roundabout means to get them. And like you said later, many people are quite uncomfortable with trans people, and therefore the wait would be very long indeed.

rufus said...

That's pretty much how I see it. If it was a business that refused to hire blacks, for instance, I would say the best solution would be to get as many people as possible to boycott and protest and generally make a stink- it would be quicker and more effective than legal action. But, in the case of trans people, I'm not sure you could drum up much support for making a stink.