It remains to be seen whether the North Carolina Legislature has dug its state’s economic grave with the shovel of bigotry and hatred for transgender individuals–or whether they are seeking to avoid a trap others have stumbled into.
The controversial law prohibits transgender people from using the bathrooms designated for the gender they identify with. Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina have laws that prevent local municipalities from passing nondiscrimination legislation. (The bill in North Carolina came in response to a local ordinance in the city of Charlotte.) Twenty other states and the District of Colombia have employment protection laws in place regarding “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
We as a nation are at odds with each other.
A social media conversation about my previous blog on the issue got me thinking about the issue in a new light. How enforceable are bathroom regulation laws? How enforceable is the law that gives transgender people access to the bathroom of their choice? How enforceable is the law intended to keep them out?
No one seems to be suggesting that sentries stand at the door of every restroom to make sure the wrong sex does not get in. Nor does anyone seem to be suggesting sentries to make sure someone is not hassled for attempting to enter.
I wasn’t aware that any transgender person has caused a problem within a bathroom. But I was wrong about that. There have been problems. Transgender women (or more probably men pretending to be) have entered women’s bathroom’s with bad intentions and committed unspeakable acts.
But I was also unaware that many transgender people have been hassled for trying to use the “wrong” bathroom. I was wrong about that too. Apparently many have been hassled, or worse.
The conflicts range widely. “Aren’t you in the wrong bathroom?” is a reaction that, given the history of bathrooms in the modern era, might be understandable. It might seem that someone accidentally entered the wrong room. I would hope for some grace if I were misunderstanding someone’s presence.
But there has also been violence. That is never an appropriate reaction.
Then there is the University of Toronto. Universities are open minded and eager to embrace diversity. Perhaps this university went a step too far. The U of Toronto implemented a “gender-neutral” bathroom policy. In their dormitories. In the shower areas.
While embracing diversity, universities are also utterly intolerant–as they should be–of sexual harassment. And what occurred in the dorms went beyond harassment when at least one male student (on two occasions) used a cell phone to film women students showering in the gender-neutral bathrooms.
As a result, the university is “temporarily changing its policy on gender-neutral bathrooms.” But the change seems minor. Some bathrooms are now designated “for those who identify as men and those who identify as women,” a university spokesperson said. At least one bathroom per floor and per house remains “gender-neutral.”
That may not solve the problem of helping women to feel safe in the showers.
We live in a society where we want people to feel safe. But because of the nature of humanity, when you help one group feel safe, you sometimes open a door for another group to feel unsafe. Perhaps the solution–an expensive one, I’m sure–is private bathrooms and private showers for everyone.
Western Civilization is changing rapidly. Some view much of this change as progress. Conservative Christians view much of it as decline. Gender confusion rejects the principles that God made us and that He does not make mistakes. We must be ready with a response.
The best guesses about the number of people who are transgender in the US range between .1 and .5 percent. But that small population may make a big difference in the ongoing discussion about religious freedom versus discrimination.
Society is carving out a new segment for protection. It is a segment God loves. Because He loves, we must be loving in our responses too. This group deserves the protection of fair housing and, generally, employment laws.
But it is also a segment that should not be free to trample the rights of churches and ministries to maintain the Christian view of sexuality. That freedom means the right to refuse to hire those who disagree with this standard of morality.
The bathroom war will not be won or lost in the bathroom. Cultures change. They rise and fall. They progress and decline.
Moral law cannot progress or decline. It cannot change. We will be accused of being bigots for saying so. Our challenge will be to speak the truth. And to speak in love.