“A Transgendered Student in the Bathroom is So Confusing, It Opens the Door for Predators”

Readers: Remember the saying, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?” Now it’s predators. To wit —

Dear Free-Range Kids: I hope you don’t mind me sending you a link to a report on NPR this morning about a concerted effort to overthrow a law that affects transgender people. The part that bothered me I underlined and bolded below:

 At Azusa High School in Southern California, Pat Cordova-Goff is the student body president, a varsity cheerleader, homecoming princess and a straight-A senior. But she isn’t always comfortable at school. She is Azusa High’s only openly transgender student, and when she’s at school, she tries to avoid using the bathroom altogether.

“If I were to go to the boys’ restroom, there’s a chance I might be bullied, hurt, even harassed. But if I go to the girls’, I’m kind of not allowed. I might get in trouble, so it’s kind of like I have nowhere to go,” she says. Under California’s new law, Cordova-Goff’s school would be required to allow her to use the girls’ bathroom. And it’s precisely this bathroom policy that has riled opponents.

“That is so confusing, and so it opens the door for predators,” says Judi McDaniels, a mother and grandmother who went door to door in the Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills petitioning for signatures to repeal the law.”

Here’s what I find disturbing: How do we get from “that is so confusing” to “and so it opens the door for predators”? Putting aside everything else for a minute, isn’t this a somewhat dated view of who sexual predators tend to be and how/where they operate? Hasn’t the idea of pedophiles swarming public bathrooms waiting to molest children been proven to be somewhat rare, and that instead, predators tend to be people who are generally well-known to the child?Furthermore, I think the implied (though maybe unconscious) meaning is also that transgender people are “perverts”—just like pedophiles—and will be more likely to do harm to children. Or anyone.

How about if you feel weird about sharing a public bathroom with a transgendered person, you don’t go in there?

Keep up the good work! Yours, Ellen Shea

Lenore here: Ellen, I totally agree that this woman’s “argument” was trotted out only because often enough appealing to children’s safety — and sanctity — can win points, especially if an audience doesn’t care about logic. But as for the fear of predators in public bathrooms, that worry is SO alive and well that it’s not uncommon for moms to drag boys of 7, 8, and even 9 into the ladies room. Or, in the case of one mom I met on my TV show, a boy of 13! The good news? Once that particular mom was encouraged/prodded/sort-of-forced by me to send her son into the bathroom solo and he — surprise! — emerged just fine, her fear just crumbled. It so often does,when faced with reality. And so I expect fear and prejudice of transgendered people to start crumbling, too, once they are afforded their rights and simply a part of the kaleidoscope that is our country. 

53 Responses to “A Transgendered Student in the Bathroom is So Confusing, It Opens the Door for Predators”

  1. Chihiro December 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    I don’t…get the logic here? So it ‘opens the door to predators’ because creepy men will just change their gender to get into the girl’s bathroom? Because the fact that this girl happens to have male genitalia, she’s a predator by nature? Or just because someone can’t fully understand someone else’s sexuality, it automatically means it’s bad.

    Regardless of the reasons this argument was brought out, did no one stop and think ‘Hey, this doesn’t make sense!’?

  2. Maggie December 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    If this student feels uncomfortable about the situation, then “she” should be able to understand and respect that her fellow students may not be comfortable sharing a bathroom with someone who is, I presume, biologically male. Isn’t there a single person bathroom available that this student could use?

    While serving in the Navy, I had a male coworker who went around in drag off-duty. At the time I thought he was trying to get discharged (think Klinger in MASH) It made me pretty uncomfortable to have him follow me into the women’s restroom. That doesn’t make me a hateful person. I was always friendly and respectful to this individual.

  3. Gina December 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    It seems to me that the fear is that a predator (presumably male) will present as a female to get into the girl’s (women’s) bathroom.

    I suppose this is a REMOTE possibility, but it doesn’t outweigh the rights of a person to use the restroom of the gender with which s/he identifies.

    A person with a penis who identifies/presents as female has the female gender. She would be uncomfortable using the bathroom with males around. So, who gets to be comfortable? I say if you don’t want to use the bathroom with a specific person, then don’t.

    I hate that people use other people’s fear to change things that make them uncomfortable. And that they propagate fears that aren’t even realistic.

  4. Uly December 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    The person in more danger in the bathroom or school in general is, lets face it, almost always the transgender individual. Violence against transgender individuals is much higher than against cisexual individuals (those of us whose genders more or less match our genitals), and bullying against students simply *perceived* as LGBT (regardless of whether they actually are) is of course pretty high as well.

    It would be ideal if public places large enough to have multiple bathrooms had, as a matter of course, a few that were single stall for people who need more space or just prefer the extra privacy, but that’s probably not the situation here. As a kid, the only single stall bathrooms I knew of in my schools were in the nurse’s office, and not always terribly convenient. Heck, some of the bathrooms in schools I attended as a kid didnt have doors on the stalls!

  5. Elliot December 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    That’s definitely not an unconscious message; that individual is most definitely implying that all trans individuals are predators, even in a high school setting.

    As a trans individual, I’ve been in the same situation as Pat in the article and seriously, we just want to go pee and then go about the rest of our day. *WE* are the ones at risk of being the victim of a predator or angry classmate because of their transphobia, not the other way around.

    Also, as someone who identifies as male and easily passes as male (but was not born male), I’m already using the correct bathroom (i.e. the male one). So are all my trans friends. It’s not like we’re all avoiding the bathroom – we’re already in it…even if it does make us nervous.

  6. steve December 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    When a person “feels un-comfortable,” that’s an inside job.

    In other words, other people are not responsible for how you feel.

    Somebody calls a kid a !@?A#H and the kid hangs his head and decides to feel lousy. Somebody calls a different kid the same name, and the kid smiles and says, “Oh, really? I thought you were talking about yourself.”

    Even if somebody tries to make you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to. FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE or feeling threatened is a choice based on what you decide to believe about a situation… and those beliefs are often wrong and/or false.

    These days school principals and teachers FEEL like something is dangerous or risky when it’s not. Parents FEEL like allowing their kids to walk or bike to school is dangerous when it’s not.

    However … when school principals “openly” make statements they “believe,” their belief systems might heavily contribute to how they decide to “feel” when others don’t agree with them.

    Many kids FEEL uncomfortable just sitting in a school classroom, but we don’t have teachers and administrators very concerned about that.

  7. Jeannie December 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    “Even if somebody tries to make you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to. FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE or feeling threatened is a choice based on what you decide to believe about a situation… and those beliefs are often wrong and/or false.”

    This is a terrible generalization. I wish it really WERE that simple. Our brains and bodies often react before we have the TIME to assess a situation and make a conscious choice. If someone comes up behind me and touches me (on the shoulder or the back or head) before I even turn around to see who it is, my pulse has quickened, my muscles have tensed, adrenaline has surged, and I feel distressed. I did not consciously think to myself “Someone’s behind me, so he must intend to harm me.” I have NEVER been harmed in any way by someone who came up behind me unexpectedly. On a conscious level, I know this. But long before my conscious brain can kick in an say “Hey, you’re okay here” I’m already feeling uncomfortable. I personally don’t care one way or the other about the bathroom issue, except in the case of schoolchildren, I see the potential for an “ordinary” boy to abuse the policy. Maybe more single bathrooms should be available, period.

  8. marie December 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    The words pedophile, predator, pervert have lost all meaning. They have become words used to humiliate, to punish, and to gin up fear for the children.

  9. Coccinelle December 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    @ steve

    Tell that to a 6 years old who is so scared to go the the bathroom that end up peeing himself even though he doesn’t drink all day.

    I’m really curious how you would “fix” this particular kid in a few minutes, you seem pretty competent.

  10. Steve Cournoyer December 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Why not avoid the boys/girls lavatories all togehter and use the private one in the teacher’s lounge? Plenty of protection from predators there…no bullies….everybody wins, as long as they ALL put the seat down…

  11. Gina December 20, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Confusing? To High School Students? How so?

    ___has a penis, but feels like a girl inside. Sometimes, the way a body is made is not the way the person feels inside. So she identifies herself as a female. She may or may not choose to have surgery to change her physical body. But she is a female in her soul, her heart and her feelings. That is why she uses the girls’ bathroom.
    Can you imagine if we spoke to all our children this way. Honestly and without judgement.
    What an amazing world we would have.

  12. Emily December 20, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    The bathrooms at the school I went to from grades 5-8 either didn’t have outside doors, or they were wedged/chained open all the time (I forget which; it was a long time ago). The entryways were a sort of “maze” set-up, so you couldn’t see inside, but if there was any bullying/misbehaviour going on in the bathroom, then it could be heard from the adjoining hallway. So, there were still doors on all the stalls, and it was as private as any public bathroom that you’d find in a shopping mall or whatever (total oxymoron, I know), but I honestly don’t remember any bullying incidents (or drug deals, or illicit ear-piercing operations) that happened in the bathroom at that school, and that’s saying something, because I was bullied a LOT there, and I know that drugs were a problem as well–just not in the bathroom. Anyway, I know that this doesn’t address the “transgender” issue specifically, but I think the “maze” style bathrooms in schools make a lot of sense, because they respect students’ privacy, while still making it possible for teachers to keep an ear out for bullying and other things that shouldn’t be happening.

  13. GW December 21, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    Trans folk are far, far more likely to be targets than predators.

  14. Nebuchadnezzar December 21, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    This post fails on so many levels. I would break it down but I think my comment would just get taken down anyway. Those who agree know anyway, though they remain silent for fear of people being mad at them on the Internet (serious business!).

    I will, quickly, point out that it’s hardly “Free Range” to expect society at large to conform to your fears, anxieties, disorders, complaints etc. etc. At least to me. But then spending time in the comments on any post here shows a wide variety of opinions on what exactly that term means … including a hip thing to identify yourself as to seem edgy while behaving no differently from the “helicopters”.

    Nothing personal, still a fan. Just saying.

  15. Kay December 21, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    Transgender doesn’t equate to molester just like any other person. I can’t tell if this fear is a guise because they just don’t agree with privileges of transgenders or the petition reflects a genuine irrational fear.

  16. SKL December 21, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    I could understand the fear in some places – places where there are predators who would follow a woman into the restroom and rape her etc. It has happened plenty. Rape is not a figment of our imagination. Rape often involves some amount of sneaking, including disguising one’s identity or intentions or whatever.

    I don’t really see that in school, though, where people obviously know this kid.

    That said, I think that if there’s any point in having separate gender bathrooms at all, the separation should be based on body parts. Maybe if the signs said “penis / no penis” instead of “males / females” it would be easier? Or maybe they should just have stalls that offer enough privacy that they don’t need separate gender bathrooms at all.

    I understand the concern about bullying – though it sounds like this kid is very popular in the school. There is plenty of potential for bullying outside of the bathroom, though.

  17. SKL December 21, 2013 at 1:34 am #

    And another thing about bullying. Not long ago there was a story in the news about a trans-something going into the ladie’s room in a McDonalds. The other women in there realized he was physically male and they beat the crap out of him. There was a fuss over it, but I am not sure whether they beat him for being trans or for being a guy in disguise going into a place where women are vulnerable. I mean, are we supposed to just take their word for it that they feel like they are a woman? I would note that this occurred in a low-income area and I assume crime is not unusual there.

  18. MichaelF December 21, 2013 at 4:05 am #

    You can find ignorance anywhere on almost any issue, and I agree with the point that the “mother” who is warning people about this is using the labels to generate fear and support for her position.

    Notwithstanding the gender issue let’s try to remember that this student is in high school, when children’s bodies are already going through many hormonal changes. In my schools logic did not apply in all situations, especially when everyone is already trying to be comfortable in their bodies with a transgender person getting more additional pressure. It’s probably not easy for that student, even though they seem to be academically surviving it always seems to be the issues children are quiet about that seem to be the ones that are doing the most harm.

  19. J.T. Wenting December 21, 2013 at 5:15 am #

    “While serving in the Navy, I had a male coworker who went around in drag off-duty. At the time I thought he was trying to get discharged (think Klinger in MASH) ”

    There’s a difference between a drag queen and a true transgender person, thank you very much.

    A true transgender person isn’t scary, (s)he is usually hardly interested in sex at all and most often you’d hardly know except they might have a voice that’s a bit off for their “official” sex;

    So we have a transgender person here who’s not allowed in the girls’ bathroom because technically (s)he’s a boy, and in the boy’s bathroom gets no doubt constantly bullied and abused because (s)he’s more girl than boy.

    (s)he is no risk to anyone, yet is treated as a pervert when his/her tormentors as usual with bullies get away free.

  20. hineata December 21, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    If boys’ bathrooms were the same as girls’ bathrooms, with stalls with doors and no urinals, then there would be no need for any ‘public’ display of genitalia of either sort, and no need for any discomfort for anyone. That would be one solution. If a solution is even needed.

    I do wonder what happens when this particular student changes for PE. I personally do not think it appropriate for, say, a male who feels female but still possesses a male’s genitalia to be changing in front of females, nor can I imagine that the other girls would be comfortable to do so. As an adult I would be pretty upset having a ‘physical’ male in the changing rooms at, say, the public pool, regardless of what they might ‘feel’ was their gender. So why is changing, which one would presume would be a bigger issue than using the toilet, not mentioned?

    In some ways this is like the allergy thing. That this student feels uncomfortable with being the sex they were born, while you can sympathize with the student, is not actually society’s problem. This student, who sounds like they are fairly capable and together, simply needs to use the toilet that relates to the genitalia they possess. Why should society change to accommodate a very small group? I can’t force people to immunize their kids to protect mine (and nor should I be able to) – it’s up to me to world-proof my kid, as we often say here. It’s up to this student to deal with the toilet situation as it exists, not to expect others to change to suit them.

    As for bullying being an issue, I personally know only one transgender person, and ‘she’ still possesses all the strength that ‘he’ had as a male, of course (because at the genetic level he is obviously still all male). I cannot see that this student would be any different. Therefore a bit of ‘biffo’ at appropriate times should sort out the bullying issue…

  21. Emily December 21, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Hineata–Good question. You’d think changing for gym class would be a bigger issue for a transgendered student than public bathrooms, but I have a feeling that it wasn’t mentioned, because this particular student doesn’t take gym. It’s not necessarily mandatory for the entire duration of high school–I only had to take it through grade nine, for example. But, IF this student isn’t taking gym, I hope it’s because she legitimately doesn’t want to take gym (or has a scheduling conflict or whatever), rather than because she feels uncomfortable about changing in the boys’ change room when she identifies as a girl, or in the girls’ change room when she has a penis. But, yeah, that’s a really good point–I’d hate to see transgendered people feel like they can’t participate in sports/physical activity because of the change room issue.

  22. Emily December 21, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Okay, I see that this girl is a cheerleader, so, yeah, good for her for overcoming the change room awkwardness, but I’d imagine that a lot of trans people (especially high school students) would rather avoid sports than try to figure out where to change for them when their gender identity doesn’t match their biological sex.

  23. Donna December 21, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    I do think that it is confusing and most solutions will make students uncomfortable, other than maybe this girl using the teacher bathroom, but people need to stop trotting out the predator argument every time they want to oppose something.

    In Samoan culture, the fa’afafine (biological men who live as women) are an accepted 3rd gender. They can’t take hormones or have sex change operations (neither are available on island) so they are for the most part very identifiable on sight. They openly work in every level of government and private industry.

    This topic made me realize that even after living there for almost 2 years, I have no idea which bathroom they use. I vaguely remember being in the ladies’ with the fafa who works in payroll but I don’t know that that is universal. The point being that bathroom use of the fafas is a complete non-issue. The presence of fafas anywhere is a complete non-issue. Here’s hoping that one day transgendered people in the US will have such universal acceptance that we don’t really care about their bathroom selection either.

  24. CrazyCatLady December 21, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    How about DOORS on STALLS? Shoot, I could care less who is next to me, as long as they aren’t trying to peep through the cracks. McDonalds seems to be able to make stalls that will allow a minimum of peeping opportunities, why can’t the schools?

    And yes, the school should have a bathroom that this student can use if the other ones are not suitable. Even if it is the teacher bathroom (gasp!) that already allows all genders to use it.

  25. Donna December 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    I’m not sure what doors on stalls solves.

    I assume that the girl’s bathroom already has them.

    Boys bathrooms also generally have one or two stalls that she could use. Her problem in the boys bathroom is being attacked, not penis exposure. She still has to walk through the main part of the bathroom to get to and from the stall. Even if you take out the urinals and put in more stalls, she still has to walk through the main part of the bathroom to get to the stalls. I am not sure why the worry about bullying in the bathroom specifically. My guess is that she has had issues there because it is one of few places in school that is private and without teachers hanging over your shoulder constantly so therr is more potential.

  26. Dunno December 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    A few points:

    1) Yes, pulling out the “predator” card at every turn is the worst form of crying wolf.

    2) I was a teenage boy once, and believe me, I would have done anything at 14 to see boobies. The bathroom issue aside, the new California state law does concern me. Not for the adults being predators, but for the potential of teenage boys using the law to use girl’s locker rooms.

    3) When did the sensibilities of a tiny minority get to trump the sensibilities of a majority? What about the girls that legitimately do not want a boy in their bathrooms or locker rooms? Are they not entitled to protection?

    4) The issue of harassment of a transgender student is a bullying issue and needs to be dealt with as such – that is by punishing bullies not creating a bathroom open-door-policy.

    5) I believe the intention of the law was honorable, but this issue could have been better solved by mandating setting aside gender neutral facilities.

    6) What ever happened to the ability to draw a line in the sand? I know this might come across as hateful, and I do not intend it to be. But what makes a boy a boy and a girl a girl? How about chromosomes? If gender neutral is not possible or available, can we draw a line in the sand at what your DNA says? If that worries you, see point No. 4 above about bullying.

  27. SOA December 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Is it a male who identifies as female? Then I would say let him use the ladies room. The stalls give privacy as it is. So I don’t think it is that big of a deal. Or allow him a pass to use the restroom during class so most likely it will be empty when he/she uses it. Easy solution.

  28. lena December 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

    This law is for schools ONLY, right? so any pedophiles would be teachers or students. – and if that’s the case you have bigger problems then allowing transgender people to use a different restroom.

  29. Donna December 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    “Not for the adults being predators, but for the potential of teenage boys using the law to use girl’s locker rooms.”

    If you really believe that any teenage boy on the planet is going to choose to live his life as a girl – subject himself to ridicule, bullying, beatings – just to see a pair of boobies, you’re an idiot.

    And what is that you think girls are doing in the bathroom? I can’t recall a single instance where my boobies have been visible in the school bathroom.

  30. Papilio December 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Good Lord, I can’t believe some of the comments here.

    First of all, what she looks like under her clothes and uncovers in the (relative? I’ve never seen a stall without a door) privacy of a stall is strictly her business.

    Second: this girl self-identifies as a girl. If she is anything like Valentijn the Hingh, she feels she’s a girl, she thinks like a girl, she socializes like a girl, she talks like a girl, and she dresses like a girl.
    In all respects that truly, genuinely matter for who she is as a person, she (not he, not “she”) is a girl.
    Who, unfortunately, was born with a body she isn’t happy in, but for now she has little choice, just like people with some physical abnormality. Are you saying people who look funny should use the teacher’s bathroom because the other students feel uncomfortable seeing their bodies? I certainly hope not. People are all different, kids better get used to it.
    Finding their way through life and the struggle to get accepted is hard enough for these kids without some crazy paranoid mother who knows nothing about nothing driveling about predators. What an idiot.

  31. J.T. Wenting December 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    “But, yeah, that’s a really good point–I’d hate to see transgendered people feel like they can’t participate in sports/physical activity because of the change room issue.”

    Can imagine there being a separate place for him/her to change. Like when I was at school LOOONG ago there was a small office/store room attached to the gym where things like spare balls, brooms, etc. were stored. Even had a shower so probably had once been the changing room for the PE teacher.

  32. Donna December 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    She may self identify as a girl but she is still a boy. Now I couldn’t possibly care less; an entire football team could be in the bathroom with me and it wouldn’t bother me. But I do remember being a teenage girl and all the insecurities concerning my body, boys, sexuality, menstruation. I would have been uncomfortable with a boy in the bathroom, even a boy who presented as a girl. It may not be rational, but little about teenagers is.

  33. C. S. P. Schofield December 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    By the time you child is going to school, it is high time he or she learned that the world in full of people that won’t conform to your personal ideal of “normal”, and you need to just deal with it.

  34. Andrea December 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    It occurs to me that the best way to deal with this issue would be on a school by school basis. In some schools the trans kids would be accepted by the girls in their bathroom, in some they wouldn’t. In some schools the boys would be cool about it, in others they wouldn’t. If the vibe is not tolerant in either bathroom, then the teacher’s bathroom should be an option. Really, schools should be thinking about providing single toilet bathrooms as well as multi-stalled ones, and not just for the trans-gendered. Plenty of kids whose genders are not controversial have been bullied in the school bathrooms over the years. It’s awful for anyone to not have a safe place to do their business.

    I agree that making this a predator issue for a school in which there are a small number of known trans-gendered students is alarmist, but I do think it’s a bit less unreasonable for people to fear pervy men infiltrating the ladies room dressed in drag in, say, a mall in a big city. People may just need a little time to get used to the idea and realize that they won’t be tolerating pervy behavior in the stalls, they’ll just be tolerating folks who need a safe place to pee. The best way to win hearts and minds on this sort of issue while still keeping vulnerable people from getting beat up, in my opinion, is to take it slow and steady when pushing changes to these long established social norms.

  35. Olive December 21, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    She is a girl. There are many others like her in the world. Maybe we need to teach our girls that trans girl are girls too so they aren’t afraid of a “boy in the bathroom.” No one is getting naked in front of each other in a High School bathroom.

    The majority of people have use of their legs, why do we need ramps and elevators? A majority of women aren’t nursing mothers, why should we have nursing stations in public places? See where this dumb logic goes?

  36. LisaS December 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    The predator argument is pretty bogus. However, in most jr high & high schools the girls bathrooms are the epicenter of sexually related bullying. I wasn’t transgendered – just a very nerdy, bookish & not very pretty girl – and learned very quickly that going into the bathroom would get me tormented about anything and everything, especially my sexuality or lack thereof. I just didn’t go during the school day, except with a pass during study hall when noone else was there, and even then, only during my period. It’s sad to hear that nothing has changed.

  37. Christine Hancock December 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    If the other girls in the school are comfortable with a physical male that identifies as female, using the women’s facilities, then this shouldn’t be a problem. If not, then offer the teachers’ facilities. It shouldn’t be such big deal.

    There are problems with everyone’s arguments.

    The student is worried about being bullied and attacked in the men’s room and wants to use the women’s room. However, does this person think the girls will be more accepting. There’s a good chance of being bullied there too. The physical danger may be smaller, but female bullying via gossip and social attacks can be just as damaging. If the girls are not ready to share, it will take more than a law to make them change their minds.

    As for the mom who cited predators… REALLY?! That’s the dumbest argument ever. Public restrooms are not infested with pedophiles. People go in , do their business, and get out. There is usually only one way in and out and lots of potential witnesses. The bathroom is the last place anyone wants to be a pervert.

    I would feel pretty weird about sharing the restroom with a transgender, but enough to give that person a hard time. Most likely, I’d just step out and wait for that person to finish. Prior to adulthood, I wasn’t aware there even were laws regarding bathroom use. I thought offering separate men’s and women’s facilities was a cultural norm and that people went where they felt safest and most comfortable. I feel very bothered that bathroom use has to be legislated as to who may or may not go where. Can’t schools and families as individuals make reasonable accommodations without dragging politicians into it?

  38. Christine Hancock December 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    “I would feel pretty weird about sharing the restroom with a transgender, but NOT enough to give that person a hard time”

    Sorry about my previous typo.

  39. Natalie December 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I think this is more than an obsession with predators, although there’s certainly that, it’s a fear of the LGBT community in general, at a time when they’re still fighting for equality.
    The idiocy of the argument here is that transgendered people are much more likely to suffer violence, due to bigotry from heteronormative people, than the other way around.
    It sounds like the student body is more open-minded and accepting (being president and homecoming queen requires voting) than the parents are.
    Score one for the helicoptered generation.

  40. one mom December 22, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Lenore, it’s pretty obvious you are not the mother of a girl. Otherwise you would care more about what other teenage girls would feel about sharing their restroom with a biological male. About menstruating girls. About girls wearing headscarfs, and whose only place to ajust it is the girls’ bathroom.

  41. SOA December 22, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I have zero problem sharing a bathroom with a transgendered person who identifies as female. I frequent gay bars and the drag queens or transgendered perfomers often come into the ladies room and it does not bother me. They all just use stalls so it is not a big deal.

    Now maybe in my terrible high school where many of the doors did not have locks on the stalls or even shut all the way without holding the door, it might be a problem. You often had to get another girl to hold the door shut for you or you had to try to pee, change a tampon, etc while using one hand to hold the door. But as long as the door shuts and locks I don’t think it matters.

    But again easy solution is let him use the teacher’s restroom or use the restroom between classes when no one is in there.

  42. CrazyCatLady December 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Some schools do NOT have doors on stalls, even in the girls room. My high school did not. Of course, that was also at a budget cutting time when they told kids to bring their own toilet paper.

    If the toilet has good, non-see-through doors, with no cracks, then it is like being in another room. Nobody is going see anything.

    And honestly, what is the harm with having the kid use the teacher’s rest rooms? They tend to be unisex single stalls. Are the teachers afraid of getting cooties or something if a kid uses the bathroom?

  43. John Rohan December 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm #


    This is probably the first time I’ve ever disagreed with you, but now I do. It’s too easy now for anyone, male or female to declare they now identify as the other gender, so they have to use that gender’s restroom.

    This issue is ludicrous anyway because A BATHROOM IS NOT MEANT TO BE A GENDER IDENTIFICATION STATION!! It’s an extremely utilitarian room that is designed for the elimination of waste.

  44. Papilio December 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    “It’s too easy now for anyone, male or female to declare they now identify as the other gender, so they have to use that gender’s restroom.”

    I totally admit I don’t know how well genderdysforia is handled in the USA. In my country these children identify as the other gender from their early childhood. There are 2 (?) hospitals in the country where they get treated: doctors estimate as well as they can when puberty will start, allow that to begin for just a few months to make sure this is something the child absolutely does NOT want (that would be about 20% of the cases), and then the child starts taking medicines that stop the puberty-related physical changes.
    So physically they still look like a child until the age of 16, when they’re allowed to start taking the hormones of the desired gender and at 18 they can have a sex change operation. Of course there is a psychologist involved in this process of years.
    So, this is not something anyone could suddenly use as an excuse in 9th grade (this was a high school after all) to go to the other bathroom.

  45. SKL December 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    If going to the girls’ bathroom is the answer to possible bullying, why not leave that option open to all penis-owners who fear being bullied in the boy’s bathroom?

    Why only to penis-owners who claim to feel female?

    How do we determine whether the person who claims to feel female is telling the truth? Does s/he have to wear girls’ clothes for a set number of days before s/he is granted admission to the ladies’ room?

    Funny thing, the worst bullying incident in my personal life occurred in the girls’ bathroom. LOL, it isn’t exactly a safe haven. And the boys’ bathroom has its share of fights as well.

    Maybe they should just do away with shared bathrooms all together. Just have floor-to-ceiling unisex stalls and a common washing area. Actually that would probably solve a lot of problems. But as long as they have gender-specific bathrooms, I think they need to define them based on body parts UNLESS ALL of the girls involved are OK with sharing.

  46. Natalie December 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    It’s not handled well in the US. As you can see from some of the comments here, people have no idea what transgender means. It will take some time before awareness is raised. But we’re getting there. Slowly but surely.

  47. Natalie December 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Sorry, just realized you meant, how is treatment handled. I think it would depend on the state they lived in. Like abortion.

  48. Papilio December 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    “In my country these children identify as the other gender from their early childhood.”

    Actually, I’m pretty sure they also do in the rest of the world! 😀 (the risks of editing…)

    @Natalie: I did mean ‘how well’, but ‘how’ is also interesting.
    “As you can see from some of the comments here, people have no idea what transgender means”

    Yes, I noticed. But I’m a bit of an exception myself, I just got interested after seeing an article on genderdysforia with a bunch of pictures of very ordinary looking girls and boys… Except that they were born as boys and girls.
    “I can finally be myself.”

  49. Suzanne December 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I think the most important point in this article is that the transgender person may be physically hurt or bullied by the other boys in the restroom. This is probably the most likely threat of any bathroom situation and the one which should be prevented the most. If the transgender is uncomfortable in one particular room or the other – well, she is going to be in a lot of uncomfortable situations, we all are that’s part of life. The same goes for the biological girls, too bad if they are uncomfortable, they are not in any danger unlike the trans who may be in danger in the men’s room. Oh wait, I was using logic and I forgot that is outlawed in schools today.

  50. one mom December 24, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    So you are saying that trans people are in danger in the men’s bathroom because there are *males* around him?
    OMG I actually forgot how dangerous males are.

  51. Emily December 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    @One Mom–The presence of cisgender males isn’t inherently dangerous to a male-to-female transgender; it’s the bullying.

    @John Rohan–Of course a school bathroom isn’t intended as a gender identification station, but in the adolescent years, there’s no getting around the fact that it functions as one. Girls often go to the bathroom together to talk about private things that they don’t feel comfortable discussing in mixed company, and I’ve heard that the “boy” equivalent of that is locker room talk. Also, there are the changes that start happening in kids bodies around middle school/high school age, and I know that most people think puberty finishes for most kids before high school starts, but there are late bloomers.

    @SKL–Your idea of co-ed bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling stalls and a common washing station sounds like a good idea in theory, but it leaves the question of where to put the feminine hygiene product and condom machines. Most young people who are just beginning to need those things, aren’t going to want to purchase them in mixed company.

  52. CrazyCatLady December 27, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Good thing this woman doesn’t live in the LA Unified School District. It has been law there since 2003. Her kids, playing sports, doing events, may have unwittingly had same sex/opposite gender kids in the bathroom with them already when they went to events at others schools. Oh, the horror! (Not!!)

  53. one mom December 28, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    @Emily – I was replying tongue-in-cheek to the assumption that a transgendered people are in danger in the men’s bathroom because ALL men are assumed to be dangerous (as Lenore puts it in “eek! A male!”). So instead of actually dealing with the problem of bulying, let’s just stay away from ALL males.
    I agree with your whole post.