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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Arguing against Mixing Sexes in Locker Rooms

A couple of weeks ago, the Massachusetts Department of Education put in place new rules for all elementary and secondary public education institutions, instructing schools on how to comply with the state's gender identity law. (You can read the actual guidelines here.) As Joe Carter pointed out, the identifying factor in determining gender is left to the student him or herself. He then writes "Any teen boy can claim, with a wink to his peers and a straight face to his educators, that he has decided to identify as a female and will then have unlimited access to the girls' restroom and locker rooms." I posted the story on my Facebook page and got some immediate responses   The discussion I had with one person is below. Read on and I will make some comments at the end.

Lenny: I wouldn't subject my teenage daughter to be forced into the same locker room with a student showing male genitalia. Why should a hundred girls be made uncomfortable for the comfort of one confused boy?

RG: As opposed to forcing a transgendered person to be uncomfortable within a locker room where they don't belong? I think we all should teach our kids to understand and respect the human body as opposed to fear it or be made uncomfortable by it.

Lenny:  Why would a human being not belong in a locker room where he or she shares the exact same body parts as all the other occupants? it strikes me that this "discomfort" of which you speak has nothing at all to do with either biology or the actual fact that there are physical differences between males and females, and we should respect those differences enough to provide for proper privacy.

I note that you don't say that its the supposedly transgendered individual who needs to "understand and respect" his own body. No, all the OTHER kids in Massachusetts schools need to change. There is no way to justify such ignorance.

RG: So, first we have to ask ourselves 2 questions:

1. Do you believe there are a subset of the population that are transgendered? If not, then there is no need to discuss what Massachusetts has done here. However, since Mass understands the dynamics of an ever changing, growing and enlightened society, let's agree there are those kinds of people and move to question 2.

2. Do you think that someone should not be judged clearly on their anatomy? That they are not the sum of their parts? If you pardon the pun. And that is what Mass is trying to address and protect a class of citizens from laws that target them unfairly. That we as a society can look at someone and not say, you have a penis, you are a boy, end of story and rather look at the person who could not help how they are on the inside and force them to be a certain way because it makes the rest of us more comfortable. And yes, we should teach our children to be more understanding and respectful of people different than us and to not be ashamed of our bodies since it is about looking what is on the inside than the outside

Lenny:  No, we don't need to ask those questions first. The very first thing one should ask is "Why do we mandate restrooms and locker rooms to be separated by sex at all?" That's the central issue and that's the item that's being changed. Why don't we place large picture windows in locker rooms? Why should we have any kind of privacy by sex? Once you understand the reason for privacy at all, the rest of the argument can take on a clearer context.

RG: So forgetting all these scare tactics about regulation of such laws and getting to the heart of it, everyone should be allowed to enter areas (locker, bathroom, etc.) in accordance with their gender identity. Gender identity is evolving in such a way to not specifically be about anatomy. If you want to give me a reason why this isnt true or should only be limited to anatomy, please tell me.

Lenny:  Don't try to turn it around. YOU need to provide a reason why it SHOULDN'T be limited to anatomy. Anatomy is something solid. It can be tested scientifically and is instantly recognizable when seeing an unclothed body. That's what separate changing rooms are all about - so people of the opposite sex don't see your body. This is obvious. You're working really hard at trying to justify your position, but you keep talking about this like it's an abstract issue. These are real kids. If you want to wear pants or a dress doesn't matter when you're clothes are off, which is the situation in the locker rooms. Anatomy is all there is at that point.

RG: So then my previous comment holds true, why even discuss this decision when you still don't believe that someone could be born anatomically one way yet be different on the inside.

It is odd that you want to bring up things that can be scientifically validated when God cannot be and yet you believe that.

Lenny:  "Different on the inside" whether true or not, is not a factor in this discussion. I may or may not believe that a person could feel different about sports, or that they identify more as a cat than as a person. None of it has bearing on the question of whether students should be subjected to viewing the genitalia of another person of the opposite sex while simultaneously exposing themselves. It's a non-sequitor. It does not follow.

RG: (Provided link to a story of a supposedly transgendered eight year old boy who has feminine tendencies.)

Lenny:  Yeah, I'm actually familiar with that article. But nothing follows from it.

RG: Again, this is the typical metaphors, usually from religious people that goes against their doctrine. To compare someone who knows they were born into the wrong body to someone who likes dogs instead of cats or identifies with a sports team. REALLY? It is the same thing? And quit living in the middle, I may or may not, obviously you have an opinion that is driving your rationale. After looking at the evidence, while may not be definitive, I choose to believe that there is a subset of people born into the wrong bodies and for society to tell them, 'hey, sucks for you, use the right bathroom' is incredibly ignorant and disrespectful of people who are different than us. To say that a person is ONLY the sum of their physical appearances is sad. I choose to move on the side of empathy and teach my future kids the same thing rather than judge those transgendered people who have been picked on their whole lives to continue the discrimination into adulthood. I choose to be a better person, a more understanding person, after all, isn't that what your God says we should all be. If a female-to-male walked into my lockeroom or bathroom, I wouldn't run scared but embrace their strength.

I want the reader to notice a couple of things from this exchange. First, RG wanted to bait me into a discussion of whether transgenderism is a real condition or not. However, I wouldn't bite. It truly does not matter whether I think transgenderism is a medical condition, a psychological condition, or whether I'm for it or against it. I have good arguments for the problems with dealing with those who claim to be "born with the wrong body", but that's not the issue here. I wanted to address the insane idea that even if transgenderism is true, that means that that one person can ignore his or her physiology, even at the expense of the rest of the student body. No one's feelings matter except the one who the state of Massachusetts deems needs protecting. No one's privacy matters any more, because this political issue trumps everything else--and it's being applied to our children! Such a stance should offend any rational person.

Secondly, you'll notice that RG never even attempted to answer my question of why we segregate bathrooms and locker rooms at all. Why? Because as soon as he does, his entire case falls apart. He cannot answer the question an he knows it. He uses all kinds of emotionally charged words ("understand and respect the human body as opposed to fear it," "move on there side of empathy," "scare tactics," etc.) but those are the only points of his argument. He cannot appeal to science (a tactic he usually takes when discussing whether or not God exists) because the science is pretty clear. These people have twenty three pairs of chromosomes and the last one is either XX or XY.

No, science doesn't matter, morality doesn't matter, and common sense has flown out the window when it comes to issues like transgendersim. All that matters to folks like this is to advance a particular agenda, and everyone else be damned. There truly is no logic to it. It is political correctness on steroids and I would hope that by focusing our arguments on the problem at hand more people can see how crazy our laws are becoming.

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