By Bil Taylor
It seems to me that today’s society is getting so complex, so complicated that I’m at a loss to understand some of the stuff that’s going on. Probably one of the most bewildering situations is that surrounding a recently passed law in North Carolina addressing statewide anti-discrimination policy which bans employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age, or biological sex.
The law, however, does not specifically offer protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and it also prevents local governments from passing their own policies which might go beyond the statewide standard.
An enormous controversy has arisen prom a provision in the law which prohibits public schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. Its application also prohibits local authorities from requiring businesses and other public venues give access to transgender individuals to restrooms of their choice. If a business owner wishes to provide all gender restrooms, that’s the owner’s choice but, the law prevents local governments from forcing business owners to adopt such a choice.
OK, let’s get a few definitions out of the way.
Here is a compilation I’ve put together from several sources: “sexual orientation” is an ongoing pattern of romantic and/or sexual attraction to persons of the opposite sex or gender (heterosexuality); the same sex or gender (homosexuality); or to both sexes or more than one gender (bisexuality). Common practice has led to the labels of “lesbian” women (women attracted to women), “gay” men (men attracted to men), and “bisexual” people (men or women attracted to both sexes). “Transsexual” people have a gender identity that is inconsistent with their birth sex, and desire to transition to the gender with which they identify — male to female or female to male.
This transition may or may not result in surgical or hormonal treatment. A specific case in North Carolina involves an individual whose birth sex is female but who wants to live like and be treated as a male — including using the boys restroom at school. A judge has ruled in favor of this individual thus “opening the door” so to speak, to claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation if other entities attempt similar prohibitions on restroom usage.
News reports indicate the primary issue is that such transsexuals feel “uncomfortable” using the facilities designated for their birth gender but feel “more comfortable” using the those designated for use by the gender they more closely identify with. But this raises the question of the “comfort level” of those who find themselves sharing a restroom with an individual who is obviously not of the same gender. Does modern society consider their feelings of no concern? Hmm.
There are lots of other issues raised by this controversy, such as how to designate restrooms by signs. Nearly universal signs indicate the “mens” by a figure wearing trousers and the “womens” by a figure wearing a skirt. Of course this distinction is primarily symbolic because most women today wear trousers and the sight of a woman wearing a skirt or dress is a rarity — except for the female co-host of a popular TV game show who models a variety of stunning skirted creations.
Anyway, my research has uncovered a new restroom sign with the traditional trousered and skirted figures alongside a third figure having a trouser on one leg and a skirt on the other above the words “all gender.” How about them apples?
This issue of “all gender” facilities will continue far beyond North Carolina as a huge number of businesses, organizations, and governments are involved. Many colleges and universities have abandoned same-sex dormitories and bathrooms in response to LGBT students, faculty, and staff members. A major department store chain has recently announced its “support” of LGBT rights apparently including “all gender” restrooms. The administration of a large nearby city is also “supporting and welcoming” LGBT folks but whether the city will designate city restrooms as “all gender” or require businesses to do so has not been announced — yet.
You know, several years ago I saw restrooms where one entrance was marked only with the silhouette of a dog in a rigid “point” position and the word “pointers” while the other showed a sitting dog with the word “sitters.” Wanna bet such symbols would be considered discriminatory by somebody today? Yep, sure makes a body bewildered. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]