Yesterday, I spent time on a 1200 word post concerning an issue of trans non-discrimination at Evergreen College in Washington. It started when I found a letter to the editor by a New England conservative candidate who was making exaggerated claims, or so I thought. As I researched the issue (write first and then research!  LOL) I found the subject more complex than originally it appeared. And thus, I am posting a pre-post to set up that post in a more meaningful way.

I’m more interested in asking some questions than in suggesting I have a more enlightened position to share. I’ll let that other post be my platform for my opinions. But today, let me ask what you think about the issue of Sex, Gender, and Genitalia. At the center of the Evergreen College controversy is a 45 year old student who self-identifies as a trans woman and remains with all the genitals with which this person was born.

What is the relationship of genitalia to gender and to sex? when and where are any of these the same thing, and where do they refer to different things? and is the idea of what constitutes “trans” pr a trans man or a trans woman changing? Here is a quote from a trans woman’s blog:

I do not totally agree with the TG support for Mr. Francis. I see it split 60-40 in favor of Mr. Francis with the 40% of the TG world opposed understanding the actual ramifications of what this asshole, pervert is more accurate, has done to their beloved TG “justice and equality” attempt at manipulating the Legal System.

Please share your ideas about Sex, Gender, and Genitalia by leaving and comments here on the blog.

One Comment

  1. This comment was written by Joel Smith and posted to me on Facebook. I apologize for the time lag getting it posted here.

    I don’t know if you’ve disabled commenting on your blog, or if something isn’t working, or if it’s something on my end – but I don’t see any way to leave a comment on anything at So I’ll try sending you a message instead.

    In you link to someone in the trans-community who has a different opinion on rest room access than many. Obviously there are lots of different opinions this, and, like the gay community, trans people have different views (for instance, I can provide plenty of links to gays who don’t think marriage equality is important but I also wouldn’t classify that as the general view on the subject by gays). But disagreement doesn’t immediately give equal weight to two different views on an issue.

    The blogger you linked to is uninformed about sex and gender. She apparently ignores intersexed people (who may be female and have a penis, and be both very at risk in a men’s room, and who have a right to be seen as women – including without clothes) and doesn’t understand the idea that sex – even when you ignore transsexuals and cross-dressers – is a lot more complex than just external genitals – it also involves gonads, chromosomes, secondary sex characteristics, etc. She seems to be advocating the “no penis = female, penis = male” standard, which is, well, simply ignorant (there are non-trans men without penises, and there are non-trans women with penises), but, ironically is similar to the “one penis” standard for marriage advocated by many.

    She also ignores that a surgery doesn’t make someone safe. She is worried about 1 in 100000 odds of being hurt (I’ll say the difference in odds for a pre-op MTF transsexual using the men’s room vs using the women’s room is much greater than that). Yet she’s content to enter a semi-private space with nothing but a sign and rules to protect her, and she feels that a woman who had sex reassignment surgery vs a woman who has been on hormones and is transitioning, but still has a penis, is somehow 100,000 times safer. That person on hormones is no more capable of an erection (or, likely, fathering a child) than any woman without a penis – post surgery or not.

    Her 1 in 1000000 standard could equally be used against blacks or other minorities who have higher arrest or conviction rates. “We should have white-only showers. I know most blacks are fine, but even 1 in 100000 who is violent is too much to place our girls at risk.” Of course that would simplify a very complex dynamic, and end up with the wrong (and bigoted) conclusion. But it certainly was used to justify segregation.

    Yes, we need bathrooms to be safe for everyone. The same for locker rooms and showers. Building these facilities to promote privacy is a good first step. But stigmatizing and encouraging “pants checks” is not good for safety of trans people, who’s rights are not immediately trumped because a non-trans person is uncomfortable of feels unsafe (the fact that it does seem to be treated as an issue with equal, if not more, weight shows that trans people pretty much have zero status in society, and their safety or comfort is irrelevant). Certainly, if we had private changing and showering facilities, it would be a lot easier to enforce indecency laws, as I’m sure lots of people would prefer to not change in front of others – nor see others flaunting their stuff for sexual gratification, regardless of whether that person is in the “proper” room or not. Heck, it would satisfy the concerns some bigots have of gay men seeing their young boys changing.

    I’ll also note that many people who have had sex reassignment surgery no longer see themselves as “trans”. They often believe the transition is now complete. Obviously this is a controversial subject for people, but it’s one reason why these controversies continuously reappear – success as a trans person is often defined as not being seen as trans.

    As for the Johnstown and Evergreen situations, I can’t speak on those. I have a hard time fathoming why a transsexual person (vs. someone with a fetish or someone who is transgender in the sense of “I don’t have a gender”) would not do just about everything to avoid having their privates seen by someone in a locker room, as their privates are typically a huge source of pain for them. That said, I also want to be careful to not put a different standard of acceptable behavior on someone different than non-trans people. I don’t know if the trans people were doing something wrong or not in these two situations, I wasn’t there. But I do know that many responses to both situations have been far worse than the supposed problem in the first place. My post-op friends are terrified of being anywhere near the Pittsburgh campuses, since just the possibility of facing questions about their sex and sex organs – and the attitude that it both matters and is other peoples’ business – is enough to relieve some very painful memories.

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