Sometimes, the little light goes on that people who appear to be arguing are on such different wavelengths that they haven’t really achieved disagreement yet. Such, I think, is some of the kerfuffle about the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague” (the opening greeting) “guidance” (the scare-quotes because there is a threat of financial consequences for not complying) to schools.
The following is a genuine effort to achieve disagreement instead of mere insult-swapping.
I cannot always tell where objections to those guidelines is coming from. Mine starts with concern that teenaged boys, perhaps on a prankish dare, perhaps because they’re voyeurs, will claim to identify as girls to get into girl’s locker rooms (bathrooms not so much). A mere half-century ago, I was an adolescent boy — a sub-species about which I then and now feel ambivalence — and I know what they’re capable of.
Gender identity, of course, is subjective. But that’s logic. But here’s the “guidance” to the same effect:
The Departments interpret Title IX to require that when a student … notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity. Because transgender students often are unable to obtain identification documents that reflect their gender identity (e.g., due to restrictions imposed by state or local law in their place of birth or residence), requiring students to produce such identification documents in order to treat them consistent with their gender identity may violate Title IX when doing so has the practical effect of limiting or denying students equal access to an educational program or activity.
(Emphasis added) If that doesn’t amount to “you must accept the student’s representation,” I don’t know what it means. Already, a male in Portlandia has apparently taken advantage of that, either in the Obama guidance or a similar state or local policy.
I’m not saying that’s the only objectionable thing about the guidance — it is not — but that, and fairly closely-related threats, are my “front and center” concern.
I absolutely am not concerned that guys with gender dysphoria, or who have genuinely transitioned to the opposite sex (whatever that means) are particularly likely to physically assault and batter women or girls. I am concerned that voyeurs or violent sex criminals can and will use the “you’ve gotta take my word for it” principle to gain access and an edge for sex crimes.
I do not believe that is Team Obama’s objective. I am not convinced that they have weighed and balance and decided that it’s acceptable damage in some larger covert plan to abolish gender altogether. I just think that’s a foreseeable and unacceptable consequence of them wading into this swamp with ill-considered unilateral guidelines under threat of defunding.
Take my word for it.
Therefore, I should not be branded a hater, or transphobic, or told that I need to “get educated on trans issues.” I don’t need to get better educated on gender dysphoria to opine about the proclivities of (1)”cis-gendered male” adolescents and (2) “cis-gendered male” voyeurs, molesters and rapists.
(I do believe that Team Obama behaved so recklessly to pander to a powerful Democrat interest group, but that motivation is distinct from the merits of the policy, and were that my central concern, you could legitimately reply “Your team lost the Culture Wars. Get over it.” You cannot legitimately say that or tell me I need “educated” on trans issues in response to the concern I voice above because my concern is with imposters, not “trans people.”)
Now: does anyone think my concern — the one I just stated, not some fanciful concern that would let you invidiously pigeonhole me — is unrealistic or vastly outweighed by the benefit of letting “trans people” use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice?
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)