Disclaimer: This is a rant. Filosofa is angry and disgusted.
We fear that which we do not understand. This is the source of much of the conflict in the world and always has been. It is the root cause of every single form of bigotry. Last year when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, there were radical and irrational responses across the nation. The outcry has only intensified since then. Why? Because many people fear homosexuality, just as many fear blacks, Muslims, Jews, and other who are ‘different’. When I was a child, I was left-handed, and I learned at a very young age that people feared left-handed people. I went to Catholic schools where the nuns would rap my knuckles with a ruler every time they caught me writing with my left hand. I rebelled (surprised?) and remained a ‘southpaw’ until a broken arm forced me to change my writing hand. Most prejudices are stupid. S-T-U-P-I-D. There are two ways people can respond to their fear of a person or group they perceive as being different. They can: a) make an effort to learn about that person, that group, find some common ground and attempt to understand the differences, or b) they can express their fear as hatred and contempt, attempting to either force the ‘different’ one(s) to conform or attempt to eradicate them.
The federal Equality Act of 2015 is a bill in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate that if passed would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. Currently in 31 states people are at a risk of being fired, evicted or refused service just because they are LGBT. That is the wrong that this bill seeks to set right. Although the bill has not been passed, and the likelihood of it being passed before next year is slim, there is an ongoing uproar and a number of states are scrambling to pass state laws that counteract the federal bill before it becomes law. The most ludicrous, vicious and inane reaction has come in the form of public restroom discrimination. I have had, and still have, no desire to write about this topic. It is beyond my comprehension why and how this even became an issue, and I have thus far chosen not to waste my time on it. Filosofa is busy and has much weightier things to think and write about. But alas, rather than settling, this issue is becoming a raging inferno and even otherwise intelligent people, sadly including some of my own friends, are reducing themselves to blathering idiots. Let us consider a few facts:
- When was the last time you saw a LGBT person in a public venue? Probably every time you go out, but since they look exactly like anybody else, you had no clue.
- When was the last time you were in a public restroom with a gay or transgender person? Again, you have no idea because they look exactly like anybody else.
- LGBT people are far more likely to be harassed than they are to be harassers.
The mega-retailer, Target, recently announced a non-discriminatory restroom policy that would allow transgender people to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. Two thumbs up to Target for this policy. However, there are those who are dead-set against such progressive, tolerant thinking. Some of those people have formed a coalition and are circulating a petition to boycott Target. The petition has already gained more than 550,000 signatures. First of all, the new ‘hate laws’ passed by North Carolina, Mississippi and others, make it illegal for a transgender person to use the restroom of their current gender identity. Meaning … somebody would have to visually inspect the genitalia of each person entering a public restroom in order to ensure that person used the ‘proper’ facility. I am much more offended by even the thought of such an inspection than I would be the thought of sharing a restroom with a transgender person. Second, WTF does it matter? Some of the comments I have seen bandied about are that people are afraid transgender people will sexually abuse their children. WAKE UP! 99.9% of ALL people, transgender, gay, straight, black, Muslim … ALL people … use a public restroom because they need to ‘take care of business’. They do not go there to molest children. Pedophiles exist and the vast majority of them are not LGBT people. Third, and this applies more to women than to men, there are stalls with doors in public restrooms. I can honestly say that I have never in all my years of using public restrooms seen a person with their pants down in a public restroom! Why does anybody care? In fact, I have actually gone into men’s restrooms before … no, I do not make it a habit, but a couple of times I have mistakenly entered a men’s restroom, and on one occasion I was ill, there was a line at the ladies, so I went into the men’s. The only thing that happened was a gentleman was kind enough to stick around and make sure I was alright.
I avoid public restrooms whenever I can, but not because I am afraid of the people I might encounter. I avoid them because I have a limited immune system and avoid germs as much as possible. However, I have no fear of using a public restroom, I have no fear of encountering a gay person or a transgender person in a restroom, public swimming pool, or any other venue. As much as I like any retail store, I like Target. I am there at least twice a month to purchase cat food, toilet cleaner, paper towels, deodorant, toothpaste, and other household/personal items. In fact, I was there yesterday. I will continue to shop at Target as long as their prices remain competitive. I do not shop at Wal-Mart, as I object to their employment and import policies, not to mention that their products are sub-standard. However, I have not circulated a petition, nor do I criticize others – I simply do not shop there. If you don’t want to shop at Target, fine … it won’t be as crowded when I go there next Saturday. But what is the point in yelling it to the world, in signing a pointless petition, in trying to bend the world to your close-minded way of thinking?
Feelings are what they are and are neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’, they simply are. But actions will be judged as being right or wrong, proper or improper, acceptable or unacceptable. Those who honestly fear encountering a gay or transgender person in a public restroom should probably avoid public restrooms altogether. It may take time, but ultimately this nation is moving toward tolerance for all. Slowly, but surely. There are so many serious issues in this world that should demand our attention, our consideration, demand that we use our voices to speak out against injustice. The whole issue of who has a right to use which public restroom is not one of those critical issues, it is only being made to seem so by the masses. I do not have time for this, and neither should anyone else. Go worry about how to take care of Syrian refugees, how to end racism, how to feed starving children, how to save our environment. Next time you find yourself thinking about who should use which restroom, go plant some flowers to help the bee population.
Please read Target’s response to the public outcry.
End of rant.