Claire offers a Hayekian approach to transgender issues

In response to my post on transgender issues, I was sent this in an email, by a very good economist, it is lengthy so I am putting most of it under the fold, but do please read the whole thing.

First of all, I would like to thank you for contributing to this debate and for consistently sticking up for trans people and LGBT people more generally. We need more people like you who can engage in good, reasoned debate.

I would like to make a few observations in order to summarize this debate, and to use this summary to push for a fourth alternative–a sort of Hayekian alternative, which involves building upon the spontaneous order that we already have. This is assuming that there will always be a legal definition (or several overlapping definitions) of gender, ruling out option 1. Option 2 (overlapping definitions) is already a reality, which we can use to build on. Seen in that light, option 3 (the current debate) seems like a step backward, driven by emotions rather than reason.

A little background about me: I am one of three (to my knowledge) “out” trans* economists, and one of two “out” trans women. As such, I have followed the debate about trans* people since I was young, since this debate is about my very survival. In addition, I think that it is useful to look at this debate through the lens of economics and moral philosophy, since that lens helps us to see some of our blind spots.

The facts are as follows. Trans people have been going to the bathroom or using changing rooms since there have been trans people, which has been basically all of human history. This has led to a kind of tacit order in which people use bathrooms according to the binary gender nearest their own gender presentation, and this has led to no problems for the majority of the cis (i.e. not trans) population. In my own experience, the problems that trans people have faced using the bathroom are in direct proportion to the degree that one is read as trans. In my case, I tend to get read as “German lady,” and I have never had a problem using the women’s room or locker room. I know people who have had problems–this is especially a problem for trans men, butch women, and very androgynous-looking people. This has become more of an issue as people with non-binary gender identities and presentations have started to become more visible.

However, the increased visibility of trans people, the success of the LGB part of the LGBT movement, and a sense that trans people are scary deviants have led to some of the backlash that we see. This backlash is strongest among people who are just learning about our existence, or among those who think of us as sex objects–objects of desire but also of danger to their sense of masculinity or to their sense of the natural order of things. My own guess is that these people are projecting some of their own hang-ups on to us. Importantly, this backlash has been coordinated in the background by some anti-trans groups–look at the same, clunky language featured in each of these bathroom bills–and this backlash has aimed to drive trans people entirely from public spaces. I would argue that this backlash is motivated by fear and disgust, and these emotions can’t be reasoned with. However, they can be reasoned around.

To see what’s gone wrong, let’s start by looking through the lens of Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations theory, which is a bit like a modern-day version of virtue ethics. Haidt identifies six moral foundations, which closely map on to the classical virtues: (1) care/harm, (2) fairness/cheating, (3) loyalty/betrayal, (4) authority/transgression, (5) sanctity/degradation, and (6) liberty/oppression. Each of these moral foundations has implications for the debate surrounding the rights of trans people to exist and to be seen in public. Furthermore, these foundations motivate a lot of the, um, motivated reasoning that we see. Let’s focus on the main motivations for the backlash, which have to do with (4) and (5). Basically, they think that we’re disgusting, disordered perverts.

To understand (4), let’s turn to the language of all of these bills. These bills cite three separate definitions of sex or gender, none of which necessarily lines up with any other. These definitions are gender assigned at birth, the gender on one’s birth certificate (which can sometimes, but not always, be revised), and one’s chromosomal makeup (which is not usually observed at birth). All of these definitions are based on the idea that trans people transgress some kind of divine or natural authority, and that we need to bring them back into line. These definitions do not allow for people to medically transition–trans women with vaginas would have to use the men’s room and trans men with penises would have to use the women’s room–instead they amount to an admonition of, “man up, faggot.” Not surprisingly, some of the leading of these advocates of these bills have been evangelical organizations and advocates of “reparative therapy” (i.e. imprisonment and/or torture) for LGBT people.

To understand (5), let’s turn to the other main justification given by the (mostly male) supporters of these bills: to protect their wives and daughters (not so much sons, I wonder why) against using the same restrooms as us. This is because they see trans women in particular–even those with vaginas–as filthy deviants whose presence is inherently degrading, while they see trans men as an amusing curiosity, if they see trans men at all. Think of the main ways in which trans women have been depicted over the past 30 years in film–as cannibal serial killers, as something to throw up at, as sexual predators, and as dead bodies found in dumpsters. Literally as trash. The current backlash feeds into a lot of these tropes, particularly the sexual predator one, while if anything, trans women have a lot more to fear from straight men, and straight men have a lot more to fear from high-school wrestling coaches turned Republican politicians.

(Meanwhile, the model response I’ve received from other women has been, “so what?”)

These are the two “moral foundations” generally used to oppose letting trans* people use the restroom. While the anti-trans movement also sometimes uses the language of care (saving us from ourselves, which has been discredited since the work of Harry Benjamin in the 1960s) and liberty/oppression (seeing themselves as the aggrieved victims of political correctness or axe-grinding about “World War T”, particularly on the alt-right), their hearts are not really in it.

So, how should the law respond to recognize the genders of trans people, while also dealing with those marginal cases of women with penises or men with vaginas using the locker room, and at the same time trying to defuse some of the violent hatred faced by trans people? Let’s start by recognizing that this is all complicated, and that the law is a blunt, often violent instrument. No single legal definition of gender can cover all relevant cases. Instead, we can build on what we already have, and we can maybe even make things a little bit easier. Furthermore, the best thing that we can do is sit back, take a deep breath, and let our emotions cool down a bit. High emotions make bad decisions.

To start, we currently have a tangle of federal, state, local, and extralegal definitions of gender. For the federal government, the genders on one’s social security card, passport, selective service registration, etc., may all differ from each other. Add to that state drivers’ licenses, state IDs, voter IDs, original and/or revised birth certificates, university documents, tax records, and whichever gender someone reads me as while showing me to the restroom. For some people this even varies over the course of the day. Some states allow for a change of legal gender (such as California), while other states deny that legal gender is really a thing (such as Illinois). On the governmental side, this setup is inconsistent and a bit Kafkaesque, although I personally have had enough resources and luck to successfully navigate that system.

Most countries get around this by having a centralized personal registry (Germany’s Personenstandregister, for instance, which is simple but difficult to change, or the Danish version, which is easier to change). For Americans, setting up a centralized registry and/or national ID would represent a significant intrusion in personal liberty, and it would further complicate our patchwork system.

However, there are things that can be done, like making it possible to leave one’s gender on an ID or passport blank (or a third option ‘X’), as Australia and India have done. And, at the state and local level, a lot can be done to remove hurdles to getting proper documentation. Here would be where a Personenstandregister would make sense, with full faith and credit applied for all federal documents. People would be able to change their register entry by affidavit, as in Ireland or Denmark. However, there would likely be some civil rights issues in the ways that certain states would apply this idea.

The idea here is to remove bureaucratic hurdles and especially not to involve the police, which can be very dangerous for trans women in particular–particularly those who are black, Latina, disabled, involved in sex work, or poor. Current practice in many jurisdictions is to arrest visibly trans women on sight and charge them with “manifesting prostitution,” or to charge _them_ with a crime when they call the police for help, as in the case of a black trans woman in Minnesota who defended herself from an attack by a drunk Nazi. Or there are cases where the police fail to prosecute murder or attempted murder against trans women, and in fact, they sometimes collaborate with murderers. We need to do more to actively combat this type of bias and to reduce the amount of contact that trans people have with a biased legal system.

All of this can be done while realizing that our binary gender system is just a shorthand model that people use to navigate a more complex world. Since this world is complex, day-to-day decisions are best made at a low level, which is why Gov. Daugaard vetoed South Dakota’s bathroom bill. A good motto for this would be, “Get the government out of our bathrooms.” This approach is Hayekian at its heart, and it can even appeal to a large number of right-thinking conservatives.

For instance, my conservative Republican father managed a trans woman employee a few years ago, well before I “came out”. This woman had to use the bathroom and locker room at work. To make this work out, the company called a meeting of all of the female employees, and they led a respectful conversation about what was going on. This effort resulted in the other women accepting the trans woman as one of their own; she got to use the locker room; and nobody felt threatened or disgusted. It was a win-win for everyone involved, and it also sent a positive message.

We need more, not less, of this kind of virtuous approach.

Very well put.  From elsewhere, here is a very good Jacqueline Rose piece on trans issues.  One of the best pieces I have read this year.  And here is a very good update on where various public disputes stand.


"The current backlash feeds into a lot of these tropes, particularly the sexual predator one, while if anything, trans women have a lot more to fear from straight men."

In your dreams....

LOL. What planet do these people live on?

Trans "women" have a lot more to fear from themselves, than anyone else.

They live in a world where even if they are clearly intelligent, careful thinkers like the woman who sent them email to Tyler, they do not receive respect or empathy from a large percentage of their community. Thankfully this world is changing to be more like the world the author of the email envisions and much less like the world that people like you want.


Somehow people can learn the arc of recent history, going "yes racism was bad, yes sexism was bad, yes class-based segregation was bad" but then also go "MY hatred is the right one though!!"

FYI, in the 1960s, that heuristic would've led you to support the normalization of pederasty.

Ugh. Another "Right Side of History" narrative. Look, dude, "racism" isn't a bad government needs to address. Government needed to dismantle Jim Crow, a disgusting system designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans, who were often the majority in certain areas. It was monstrous and limited the life opportunities for an entire class of people. That has absolutely nothing to do with a small % of people wanting to use a damn bathroom and it has nothing to do with a small % of people wanting to further undermine marriage and national laws.
The "Right Side of History" narrative can just as easily be used to support the notion that Evangelical Americans are the Last Evolutionary State of Americans, and I bet there are more Evangelicals than stupid Bobos. It's arrogance to assume your beliefs and your lifestyle reflects the arc of history.
Also, jesus Christ, I thought we tossed out "Right Side of History" when we tossed out the damn Whigs.

Class-based segregation is ... what, exactly? Letting rich people do what they want, even if that means avoiding the rest of us?

Nice how you classify anything you disagree with as "hatered". :)

Pointing out facts is...hateful.

@Garnet: Class-based segregation is essentially every form of nobility/aristocracy in effect in Europe from the Middle Ages to after the Enlightenment, where your birth determined basically all your rights. (Not of noble birth? Then you don't get to have an opinion on government.)

@AIG: Every time you comment on trans issues you show that you are not interested in discovering facts, whatever they might be, but only in holding very strongly that your naive, intuitive model of gender IS the facts. News flash, humans' intuitive models of almost everything turn out to be wrong.

@A Definite Beta Guy: I didn't say anything about an arc of history.

"but only in holding very strongly that your naive, intuitive model of gender IS the facts"

There's nothing naive, or intuitive, or modeled behavior...when it comes to the physical limitations imposed by chromosomes, and the presence or not of a p***s and a v****a.

Mental disorders which make one think that they should have a wee-wee instead of a pee-pee...are precisely mental disorders. They may very well be genetic based disorders, but they are disorders nonetheless.

Saying that they are somehow "normal" is astounding.

There's nothing subjective about...reproduction in nature. It's is binary. And there's nothing "hateful" about saying that. Just the facts.

Is this a dog or a lobster?

"Is this a dog or a lobster?"

LOL. Clearly it's a lobster, since it's dressed as a lobster.

Biology has no say in it. Biology is just hateful opinions.

The world people like me want...where a mental illness is treated as a mental illness...rather than "celebrated" as a great achievement.

You have shown repeatedly that you have no grasp on what "mental issue" means or how to diagnose one. It is therefore just that society ignore your views on such matters.

"You have shown repeatedly that you have no grasp on what “mental issue” means or how to diagnose one. It is therefore just that society ignore your views on such matters."

Society doesn't determine the views of what a Y chromosome or an X chromosome mean.

Biology is not up to society to define :) So feel free to ignore my view. And yet, they are still facts.

I don't have statistics, but from what I have seen and read, trans women really do get bashed pretty often. Is there anywhere we could get neutral statistics on this? My guess would be that Tyler's correspondent is right. (She's surely got the right incentives to know her own risk of getting bashed by someone for being trans.)

Given that most of the...tiny number of such incidents...are actually from trans prostitutes being attacked by their customers...who are themselves by definition not "straight men"...I'd actually be interested in seeing what planet do these people live on who think that "straight men" are a threat to these people?

There is good evidence that trans individuals are subject to disproportionate amounts of violence.

The statement you highlight is not a disputed or a ground breaking claim. Also not the focus of the piece. How does your comment add value to this conversation?

From the link:

"For one particular community, these instances of violence happening around the country have higher chance of becoming fatal. On Aug. 14 the number of transgender people murdered in America this year hit a historic high of 15, according to advocacy organizations like the National Center for Transgender Equality. This somber milestone was hit when the remains of Elisha Walker, 20, were discovered in a North Carolina field several months after she went missing. Like the majority of the other victims, Elisha was not just transgender but a young transgender woman of color."

The man arrested for "her" murder was also a "person of color" but for some reason author Katy (((Steinmetz))) didn't mention that.

"The statement you highlight is not a disputed or a ground breaking claim."

And the evidence you provided does not address the claim.

The number of transgender women murdered ultimately reached 23, about double the 2014 number. Most were under 25 and non-white, and a lot were engaged in sex work. In almost every case in which they've identified the killer, it's a man. Often it is a john or someone otherwise in a relationship with the person. So there is a lot going on here. But it is clear that trans women are not mainly killing each other, as with drug dealers or something.

23. And how many suicides? More than 23 or less?

Do you think more people, across all groups, are murdered or commit suicide?

Being a street prostitute is an extremely high risk job. I wouldn't be surprised if it were even higher risk for trans people, but it's risky for anyone. To assess the risk of a random trans woman getting bashed while going about her normal life, we need to separate out the risk of being attacked while turning tricks from the risk while working as an academic economist.

I think suicides are generally higher than murders. On the other hand, most people are not at high risk of suicide. On the third hand, transgendered folk generally ARE at a high risk of suicide, no? That supports the notion that transgendered people have more to fear from themselves than other people.
I also think most people have more to fear from themselves than other people. Way more likely you'll eat yourself into diabetes or drink yourself under the table, than get killed.

Beta and albatross make good points. So, it seems we can agree that trans people are at high risk for self harm, being in risky situations, like selling sex, and getting killed by men. I know of no evidence showing they are more likely to harm others than general population. Assuming we care about them as humans, the question is whether treating the trans community as freaks and preventing them from, of all things, using the bathroom that makes sense to them, is the best approach. In so many ways, it feels like the conversation we were having about gay people 15 - 20 years ago.

I would think trans people are more likely to commit suicide than the general population for the same reason that people who get cosmetic surgery are more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Indeed, sex-change surgery is just a subset of cosmetic surgery. I posit two reasons for these correlations: (1) Some, not all, people who get cosmetic surgery are motivated by hangups they have, which often don't go away afterward; and (2) even well balanced people who get cosmetic surgery may be severely disappointed, to the point of depression, upon seeing the results.

"So, it seems we can agree that trans people are at high risk for self harm " -Yes, let's agree on this first. I have no doubts that some trans people face violence and this is wrong, but this isn't Iran. There are no death squads out there hunting down transvestites. There are plenty of safe spaces for them. So let's dismiss this fantasy that trans-folk are horribly persecuted. Then let's push back on Claire's denigration of the Boys in Blue, who keep me and my family safe. After we dismiss those delusions, we can seriously discuss helping the trans-community.

"and a lot were engaged in sex work."

Hehe ;)

Slight little fact that goes ignored for the sake of blaming "hateful straight white men"

Wait...if you're hiring a trans prostitute...I'm pretty sure you're not a ...straight man.

This post reminds me of a commercial I saw long time ago: out of a soft drink dispenser, first falls ice, than the soft drink pours out, lastly, the cup falls into the mess. Likewise, Claire first takes sides, then presents selected facts, and reaches conclusions.

There is no mention of gender dysphoria being a form of mental illness, for example (which we do not know how to treat successfully, though). There is no mention of what percentage of Transgendered people are leading happy personal lives, you know, falling in love with someone and being loved back... Maybe this would tell us something about whether this condition should be considered normal and healthy...

Do you still think being gay is a mental illness,too? Do you think it's possible to convert gay or trans folks into "normal" people? Do you think it helps them or you to tell them they are mentally ill? Are gays or trans people causing you harm?

Now wait - is an illness only an illness if we have a cure?

I mean, we have "cures."

I am a strong supporter of leaving people alone if they leave me alone. But I have always thought that claiming homo conversion therapy doesn't work seems like bullshit. If the specific form of therapy works for fear of spiders, why wouldn't it work for gays?

Now, if the claim was that therapy has a poor success rate, I can accept that. But the claim seems to be very bold, that treatment works to no extent at all whatsoever.

Oh wow, would love to see the academic literature on this. Seriously. And what if the same therapy worked to turn straight people gay?

What I've heard is that it's possible to turn homosexuals bisexual, but it's not possible to turn them heterosexual. In one of Robert Anton Wilson's books, he reports having heard an anecdote about LSD therapy turning a gay man straight, but who knows how trustworthy that is -- and at any rate, LSD therapy is illegal.

This is actually an important nuance in the argument, not a slur. Gender Dysphoria is a medical condition documented in the DSM-V (

LGB activists fought for years (rightly) to have homosexuality removed from the DSM, which it was in 1973. However, the trans* lobby is inclined to keep GD in the DSM, largely because it allows them to petition insurers to cover costly hormone treatments and "gender affirmation" surgeries.

Unless this position changes, it makes the "mental illness" response a legitimate criticism. It becomes logical, not hateful, to ask why we must allow "mentally ill" members of one gender to use the facilities of another.

Most studies show the suicide rate for pre and post-op transgender people are basically identical. In that case, it becomes reasonable to ask about comparative effectiveness.

Following that line of thinking, why shouldn't therapists be allowed to experiment (under normal psychological/medical protocols) with talk therapy that aims to have the transgendered person be accepting of their birth gender and sexuality?

Why if surgical and chemical interventions don't appear to be effective should other means of treatment be explored, as is the case with every other medical affliction?

This becomes interesting as it relates to another medical condition called Body Identity Integrity Disorder—a condition where otherwise healthy people believe they should be disabled. People with this condition blind themselves or arrange accidents that leave them amputated or disabled. Should these "transabled" people be provided similar affordances? If not, what difference do you see between these two populations?

I write all this as a person who is supportive of the Trans* movement. But blindly applying the arguments that were used in the LGB move to equality will not stand up to scrutiny when applied to T issues.

"Unless this position changes, it makes the “mental illness” response a legitimate criticism. It becomes logical, not hateful, to ask why we must allow “mentally ill” members of one gender to use the facilities of another."


Internal contradictions in their arguments are never a problem.

"It's not a mental illness!!!"...."but dear insurer, please pay for my medical condition" :)

Wait? What is a medical condition?

"Do you still think being gay is a mental illness,too? Do you think it’s possible to convert gay or trans folks into “normal” people?"

Funny how Bill DeBlasio's wife is called a "former lesbian".

Apparently...when lesbians go from being gay to straight...and they are is an acceptable conclusion to draw that they can change.

But apparently not if it's some crazy conservative evangelical Christian who says they can change.

Funny :)

"There is no mention of what percentage of Transgendered people are leading happy personal lives, you know, falling in love with someone and being loved back… Maybe this would tell us something about whether this condition should be considered normal and healthy…"

What does whether the condition is considered normal and healthy matter?

"What does whether the condition is considered normal and healthy matter?"

So you want us to "celebrate" unhealthy destructive behavior?

Funny how you probably don't have the same position for smokers or alcoholics ;)

Where do you get "celebrate unhealthy destructive behavior" from? Do you think it's comparable to smoking or alcoholism? Maybe in the case of autogynephilia, but that's not the only cause.

(The progressive line on autogynephilia seems to be that it's no different from cis people being into being attractive, but there do seem to be people who transition out of pure fetishism -- and who even say they're transitioning out of pure fetishism. I won't drop the links here, and at any rate I don't want to go and find them, but there's some seriously weird stuff on the internet.)

Cutting off your pee-pee is quite an unhealthy destructive behavior, and certainly not normal.

Pointing out that it is so, is considered "hatred", apparently. Pointing out that smokers also engage in unhealthy destructive behavior that is not normal, is considered "helpful"

Pointing out that eating yourself to 300lb is unhealthy destructive and also now considered "hateful" language.

Pretty much, pointing out that some people behave in ways they should not considered "hateful".

Even pointing out that you're just as free to engage in that behavior, is not sufficient. It has to be "celebrated" as a courageous act, rather than a mental disorder which probably ought to be treated, like any other disorder (like alcoholism or obesity)

The most civilized solution would be for all bathrooms to be single occupant unisex. Naturally, government regulations make it ruinously expensive.

The biggest government regulation that inhibits single-occupancy bathrooms is drug prohibition. People doing lines in the bathroom is a huge liability for any major venue. (Which is why any bars and clubs pay a bathroom attendant to sit around toilets all night). Single-occupancy bathrooms make that a lot easier. Until drugs are legal (which they would be in any free, tolerant and civilized society), single-occupancy ain't gonna happen.

It never crossed my mind that that's why they have people in the bathrooms. It always made me feel a little icky when some guy of the same sex was wanting to wash and dry my hands for me, some of them being pushier than others. But I guess some people like it.

I worked in a place for a while where there were occasional rumours of people doing lines in the bathroom. It was a problem because we simply didn't have the staff to monitor it in any effective sort of way. And you can't kick people out (it was a hotel with a bar) just on the basis of someone coming and passing around what might just be rumours (although one might think it's true most of the time).

Did you think this one through? How much would it cost to have 16 different bathrooms, instead of 2 with 16 stalls?

I went to bar in France once with a unisex bathroom. It was was large, with a common sink area and many "fully enclosed" stalls. Urinals are more space-efficient than stalls, yes, but having two separate sink areas for men's and women's facilities is less space efficient. I'm not sure which solution ultimately comes out ahead, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were the unisex-with-all-stalls option.

Why would they have to be full sized bathrooms? Why not just extend the walls of the stalls to the floor and ceiling?

How does that make it a "separate" bathroom?

Have you given any thought to how much cheaper it would be to have 1 bathroom with 32 stalls?

Just add one single unisex bathroom in addition to the normal male/female larger rooms. There aren't that many transexuals around (yet), one should more than suffice.

A lot of places have a wheelchair-accessible / disabled / baby-changing bathroom, in addition to the male & female ones. That already covers the requirement for a "third space".

Almost every place has one of those. Or if they don't, then they just have 1 unisex bathroom.

But that would be too easy of a solution, for the SJW LBTGQIXYZDIOE$HCFIWU$RF*IW&GT#(*RHW($E*RY$(*ERY*(QHYEUFRHEWBFKW.....crowd. (I hope I got all the different forms of sexual perversions in that acronym. I can never keep up with the 56 different kinds)

I'm sympathetic and but think that solutions that don't protect the interests of teenage girls in sexual privacy and modesty aren't solutions. Why not have three kinds of facilities? Men, women and other?

No one cares about my little girl having to share showers and locker rooms at school with teenage boys who pretend they feel trans some afternoon for a little fun. Abuse of her, and other little girls, is a price the SJWs are willing to pay in order to enjoy pointing their smug finger of judgment at people they hate.

You said SJW. Drink!

You haven't addressed the issue. Not every place is amenable to a kumbaya moment where the person is known as in Claire's father's workplace.

Jan made an inane comment! Drink!

There are radical feminist websites which will list at great length various instances of violent sex offenders and other violent felons who claim to be trans (e.g., and in some cases they are people who have received active support from trans activists (e.g. Synthia China Blast). I'd suggest that part of the agita is that people know perfectly well that there are creepy and dangerous men who will claim to be women or dress up as women to try to enter women's spaces, and responding that the statistical chance of encountering one of these individuals is very very low ignores the way human fear responds to potential threats. The fact that some trans activists have embraced the cause of rapists getting to call themselves women isn't helpful. I'd suggest that the law bar anybody convicted of a violent sex offense or any other violent crime from getting the treatment. Some states have added an "improper purpose" clause to their bathroom access bills, which I'm not sure makes a practical difference, but in terms of actively managing people's fear response I feel like that could be a useful approach as well (e.g. list the medical diagnoses intersex, gender dysphoria, etc, and then say explicitly anybody misrepresenting them to gain access will be punished).

The basic problem of the occasional nut putting on a dress and harassing women isn't going to go away whatever the law is, but at least people can start making a distinction in their minds if the law is seen to be addressing the issue.

These Bills are not about voting what will actually happen, as the author notes those who do not look too out of place rarely have troubles.

What is being voted on is how blatantly one can flout societal norms.

Legal lines virtually never define the actual limits of human experience (see drugs, police regulations, speed limits, zoning laws, and every other law that is bent or casually broken). Social conservatives are worried that people are already trespassing a line of expected behavior in a mild manner, but if we move the line the transgressive behavior will move that much further out. Boys in the girls' locker room will eventually happen, teenagers will naturally go to any legal line that separates them from the desired forbidden fruit (alcohol, sex, autonomy, etc.) and some will promptly cross it (fake IDs, date rape, breaking curfew, etc.). I can think of no progressive law, from drug & prostitution legalization (increased human sex trafficking) to euthanasia (the extra-legal Groningen protocol) that was not immediately met with new behaviors that went further than the law explicitly endorsed. Why this case would be different is just something I do not see.

Humans are dynamic creatures and we respond to context. Changed contexts, like with new laws or societal norms means that humans will not necessarily respond as they had in the old context. One can view changes as being net beneficial, but let us not pretend that social conservatives are merely disgusted at profane violations of the their religion. They believe the current changes in norms will change the context for human behavior, and that this in turn will change behavior. They are correct in as far as that goes, the real question is are the new transgressive behaviors on balance worse than the harm reduction from the changes.

Great comment! Very well put.

I just want to add that legalized prostitution is often expected to reduce sex trafficking rather than increase it, because victims would never have any reason to fear legal consequences.

"transgressive behaviours" - a pun on "trans"? If so, hard to tell whether it would have positive or negative connotation. Anyways, all interesting thoughts. Thank you.

Yes, I am aware of such claims about legalization, but they have not help in practice. Germany, for instance legalized prostitution a decade and a half ago and has much larger problem with trafficking today.

And this stands to reason. When prostitution is a legal market, the size of the market will likely increase (increased demand as there no longer any legal risks) and the cops lose their ability to detain and interrogate any merely "suspicious" sex workers to determine if they have been trafficked. Arguably the best option is Swedish decriminalization, it keeps the line but removes many of the perverse incentives that develop in trafficking.

As far as transgressive, no pun was intended, I mean it in the strict denotation of "that which is going beyond the bounds of normal behavior". No connotation was intended. Merely that when you change the "rules", new forms of rule violation will occur.

Boundaries are always pushed, so there is social good in having the de jure boundaries be far enough from the limit of objectionable behavior that most violations are well tolerated. Whether or not this good is sufficient to override other concerns is a very different and difficult question. The author seems to ignore it, which greatly weakens their case in my view.

I have no idea how to respond to a person that thinks that an adult male of any stripe has the basic human right to squat in a women's public bath room stall next to my four-year-old granddaughter.

"I have no idea how to respond to a person that thinks..."

But she doesn't. At least not in that formulation. You and she disagree over who is "an adult male".

I guess she and I disagree on biology (the presence of primary and secondary sex organs, hormones, glands, etc.).

Actually, I doubt you disagree about biology. Trans advocates are aware of things like chromosomes, hormones, sex organs, etc. You disagree about what it means to be "an adult male". To you it's strictly biological. To them it's something else.

There is such a thing as a biological sex, distinct from gender identity

Yet that is exactly what the NC law requires some adult males to do.

Right -- do you want Shawn Stinson squatting in a stall next to your four-year-old granddaughter? Because that's what the law will give you.

Better next to the grandson, amirite? Catholics know what I'm talking about.

Jan made another inane comment! Drink!

I don't know if Claire is presenting a Hayekian solution, but I do know that Claire turns Jonathan Haidt's moral foundations theory on its head - where it belongs. Sort of like the virus that turns on itself. Good job!

Boycott Target.

Democracy! Put it to a vote.

We may learn that there still exists a sufficiently large number of adults that will vote down this nonsense.

Constitutional Republic. Feel free to boycott Target though, as a private business they are fair game.

Don't be a pedant. The U.S. is both, using the commonly understood definition of "Democracy".

" the commonly understood definition of “Democracy”

Isn't the same as the actual definition of Democracy. There's true democracy and there's the usage employed by Enlightenment elites to validate their own ideas and still used by their thoughtless descendants.

Right. The US Constitution established a representative republic, with limited powers. It established checks and balances among the three branches so that limited power should remain limited.

Franklin explained in answer to a query on the Constitution, "You have a republic, if you can keep it."

America couldn't keep it.

The US Republic was replaced with institutional-strength demagoguery. Executive orders and activist judicial fiats are forced on we the people by a ruling, corrupt and grossly fallible oligarchy of academics, banks, crony capitalists, donors, party bosses and technocrats. E.G., the oligarchy is applying its veto to this law passed by vote of the NC State Legislature.

"Isn’t the same as the actual definition of Democracy."

If the majority of English speakers understand "Democracy" to mean a certain thing, then that is in fact the "actual definition". Words change meaning over time. The "dictionary definition" of "democracy" now includes constitutional republics like the United States.

Not at all pedantic. Democracy isn't an end all be all, despite how some people think. There are plenty examples of the ugly side of democracy that come from our own country's history.

Freedom, individual rights, responsible, effective, limited government. If democracy can be helpful in securing these, I'm all ears, but stop the damn genuflecting at the altar.

It's pedantic to correct someone who says the United States is a democracy by pointing out that it is, in fact, a constitutional republic. As if the two were contradictory. They're not.

"To understand (5), let’s turn to the other main justification given by the (mostly male) supporters of these bills: to protect their wives and daughters (not so much sons, I wonder why) against using the same restrooms as us."

Without commenting on the reasonableness of their argument, I don't think she fully understands peoples' concerns. Parents are not only concerned with what a trans woman might do to their daughters; they're worried about what cis men might do to their daughters while pretending to be trans women.

This puts things in a slightly different light. Folks for whom this is their primary objection are not so much demonizing "the other" as they are demonizing their own group, i.e. cis men.

Their central theory is that if we allow some subset of "people with a penis" (i.e. certain trans women) to use women's restrooms then it will be more difficult to police the behavior of cis male pedophiles.

If the trannies want this, it would be hard for them to oppose increased penalties for any abuse committed by someone with a penis dressed up as a woman. E.g., any child abuse committed by XY people in dresses attracts a double penalty. Innocent trannies would have nothing to fear, and why on earth would they defend child molesters?

I think it would be perfectly reasonable for a trans person to object to that sort of sentencing guideline. It would likely result in trans criminals being punished more harshly simply because they're trans.

That's the logic behind punishing people more harshly for "hate crimes," so they should not be able to have their cake and eat it too.

But part of the "abuse" will not be a crime under "use any bathroom"--a man merely being in the bathroom, which by the way will allow him to undress (as in a YMCA locker room). There is no need to bring out the "rape" fear. It is about privacy.

I think most would agree in principle, but not in practice. The Hayekian solution presented is just one that happens to overlap exactly with the author's pre-determined the conclusion. This is the problem whenever Social Justice Warriors demand a "conversation": they have pre-ordained the Correct Conclusion. Anyone who doesn't agree is transphobic, homophobic, etc.
Whenever issues do NOT go to their way, they appeal to Facebook and the Supreme Court to enforce their opinions. What if the author's conservative father had instead declared the trans-woman should use the men's room, and the employees agreed? Shock! Treason! Bigotry! Straight to Facebook! Tumblr must know! Let the Twitter fights commence! The dogs of war would be unleashed on this terrible REPUBLICAN. With copious amounts of "PoC" "privilege" "feminism" rhetoric thrown in. Along with denigrating the Boys In Blue that keep ME and MY family safe every day.
So, yes, I agree in principle. I don't even particularly care if transwomen use women's bathrooms myself. But that's not the issue. The issue is that this appeal for a ground-up, Hayekian approach is a lie. There is only one conclusion we are allowed to have, and the protest to this state North Carolina law proves exactly that.

You said Social Justice Warriors. That's always a flag that someone is about to attack the opposing team, rather than her actual argument. Tell us why she's wrong, rather than just calling her dishonest.

(Outside of debate club, nobody makes an argument unless they agree with what it concludes. Is that really news?)

Her argument isn't wrong: we should support bottom-up approaches to this problem, because this "problem" is so small and unimportant. The real issue is that anyone who isn't an idiot and isn't a liar know that Claire is lying and doesn't really support bottom-up approaches. She supports transgender rights. Period. The means is not important, only the end result, and the conversation is a farce.
The last time we had a "discussion", several states voted and determined gay marriage is an affront. The SJWs determined this answer was wrong and had the Supreme Court overrule them. There was no "conversation." There was a pre-determined answer shoved down our throats.
This is not analogous to Civil Rights legislation, which was ratified by the legislative branch (which is also of dubious Constitutionality, but at least more legitimate than 5 judges inventing law by fiat).

Curious to know how you know so much about Claire, and whether she really believes in this approach.

Regardless, whether you think she believes in the approach is irrelevant. If you claim to approve of "Hayekian" solutions to problems in general, then you also should not dismiss the argument out of hand. Else, you are also guilty of having a predetermined outcome you need to get to by any path necessary.

Going to the Supreme Court is a completely legitimate and constitutional way to resolve exactly these kinds of matters. Remember, it was not the gay 10%'s idea to let the rest of the population vote on their rights. The courts were their recourse after they were denied these rights. Again, you did not agree with the outcome so you are saying the path by which we arrived there is invalid. It is just a way of avoiding arguing about the issue on its own merits.

I support trans-rights. I grew up in an extremely liberal area of Illinois. You would recognize our culture from "Mean Girls" or perhaps "Breakfast Club" depending on your age. What I support as end policy is irrelevant. What I first support is process, and honesty. You can't negotiate in good faith with social justice warriors and lawfare artists and "Living" laws.

Jan, your desperation is sad.

"...sticking up for trans people and LGBT people"

That really isn't the issue. That IS the way the activist frame it but it is a lie. There is no need to "stick up for them". They have exactly the same rights as any American and there is no persecution. The only things they are able to point to of supposed discrimination always turn out to be hoaxes by the LGBT community. They are free to do whatever they want, no one cares. But the activists want to create a special status for them so they can demand special rights and get special laws passed. THAT is what people object to.

"create a special status for them so they can demand special rights and get special laws passed"

Depends on how the laws are written. A law preventing my employer for firing me because of whom I prefer sleep with isn't a "special law" just for gay, since it would also protect heterosexuals from being fired for being straight.

According to the administration, the law, as written, already forbids employers for firing someone due to sexual orientation. It doesn't say that in the law, but the Loony Left can always find new interpretations. It'd really be nice if the Loony Left stopped taking cues from Frank Underwood, but what can you do?
But because the Loony Left CONTINUES to act like Frank Underwood, no, I'm not going to trust their appeals for "Hayekian" solutions.

Yeah. Not everybody interested in gay rights supports that explanation, i.e. that existing law already protects sexual orientation. Most would prefer that it be mentioned explicitly.

Trans people are not demanding special status. Like everyone, they donot wish to be discriminated. Today, as far as I understand, there are generally no laws regulating who can go to the bathroom. So far, that has worked out pretty well.

However, some people wish to disrupt that and force trans people to go to bathrooms where they have not gone for a long time (from the time before they became the (trans) man or woman they are today). What the writer is suggesting is simply to keep things as they are; do not get the government or laws into this. Let people regulate situations freely, as they have done so far.

You may have shared bathroom with a lot of trans men, and you did not notice and did not bother you, because they are men, for (almost) all intents and purposes. The same with the women you know; they probably shared a bathroom with trans women many times and never noticed or cared.

Why pass a law and create a problem where tehre is none?

I just think this is silly at it's core. We are talking about something were way less than 1% of the population being "inconvenienced" while women and gays in many countries are treated horribly - and many of the companies that seem upset with North Carolina, Mississippi and other states are more than happy to do business in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Irag, Russia and other states with very mixed equal rights results

It is not morally inconsistent to fight for rights domestically and to also acknowledge the right of foreign nations and cultures to implement progress according to their own socioeconomic development. A preference for leading by example should be prioritized.

There may be some inconsistency, but I'm not aware of any of the businesses imposing their own embargoes being actively involved in any of the economies you mention. Maybe there are, I'm just not aware of any.

What if North Carolina has a different culture?

I agree that there is inconsistency. But someone is not impeded to fight one injustice because that person does not fight all injustices.

It makes sense to pick battles. There are some where a person probably cannot make a difference; also, fighting all battles is exhausting. It makes sense to prioritize.

That gets them off the hook too easily. A musician like Bruce Springsteen or Bryan Adams can play anywhere in the world. If they feel that strongly why would they choose to play in the Middle East at all? Plus Bryan Adams is Canadian. He should think of all countries outside of Canada as foreign cultures. Is Mississippi really worse in this regard than other countries he has played in?

Why? Because Charlotte passed a law that anyone could you any bathroom, and that causes problems because cheaters gonna cheat. Men will take advantage of such a law. Under the current system, if men go in to ladies room, the ladies can scream for help and get him evicted or arrested.

This I think is the one worry that has even otherwise tolerant people up in arms. We have tried to create safe places for private things, and the worry is that a more tolerant law may devolve the safety of those spaces. As someone who grew up afraid of the middle-school boys' locker room (probably without cause), I can understand why society might wish to protect half the population from those same fears. Is that the fairest and best solution? Probably not, but a brilliant idea or great additional expense will be needed to reconcile these two rational and reasonable desires.

Actually, what they want is the same rights as everyone. No special rights at all.

Sorry - I can't walk into a ladies room - the freedom to do so if you have a penis IS a special right.

"But the activists want to create a special status for them"

Special the definition of "equality" for Lefty agitators.

It's never about "equality". Equality is oppressive, because it does not "celebrate" and "elevate" the perverse. Equality just says "go ahead and do what you want".

But it's never about equality. It's about special status.

Wow, that is a really stunning level of hatred and irrationality. I wonder if all economists are like that? All state legislatures are mostly male, of course, so every law can be explained as the product of a disordered male gender, if you like that sort of vituperation. Why do Tyler and his friends thinks those sorts of explanations advance discussion?

High school girls who complain about sharing a locker room with a naked person who has broad shoulder, narrow hips, incipient facial hair, and a penis, are not worried about serial killers; they are displeased at sharing their locker room with a boy. That the boy wears skirt and a wig outside the locker room doesn't alleviate their concern. Calling them filthy bigots, which seems to be Tyler's preferred tack, will probably not convince them, though it may silence them. (They are, after all, only high school girls, not tenured professors.)

Tyler enjoys "misunderstanding" the real issue. If he understood it, he'd lose the opportunity to signal his virtue. If he has to sacrifice a few little girls, that's a small price to pay.

Is it ok, for older, gay, high school coaches to share the locker room with their female high school students? I mean, that'd make me awful uncomfortable. Staring, sweating. We need protections, now. For our daughters!

Of course this discussion isn't about logic. It's about hypocrisy, and you're not disappointing.

I assume that you are equally critical of the demands for "safe spaces" on campuses to combat the "epidemic" of sexual "harassment" such as leering or ogling, catcalls, and other "microagressions."

Obviously there are gay people in locker rooms. Most people are made opposite by the genitalia of the person with whom they are sharing space, not the person's inner thoughts.

As a society, we do police coaches and others with custody of adolescents much more closely than we used to, not because they might stare, but because there is a perceived high risk of abuse by such adults.

first world death rattle. only relevant question now is exit strategy

The defeated population must continually have their faces ground into the fact of their defeat. The things they once held sacred must be constantly degraded and defiled. Even the tiniest hints of defiance must be put down with great ruthlessness. And there are always "intellectuals" on hand to come up with specious justifications about why it's all "for their own good."

Stunning that where people poop and pee would attract such victimhood. On the side of the trannies, it can sort of be understood because if they're living as a man/woman, then everyone KNOWS when they go into the opposite bathroom. And given existing discrimination, sometimes even hate, towards them, this can be threatening and dangerous to them.

If this is such a dreadful victimization, how come all the good right-thinking progressives have waited until the CURRENT YEAR to do something about it? Why not in 1957? Or 1965? Or 1973? Why didn't President Obama announce Tranny Bathroom Liberation in his first inaugural speech, when he commanded the oceans levels to decline and terrorism to be at an end? How ca liberals live with themselves, knowing that they were COMPLICIT IN THIS VILE OPPRESSION for so long? How can you stand to look yourself in the mirror, Troll? WHY DIDN'T YOU SPEAK OUT?

The answer, of course, is that it isn't any kind of victimization and most people didn't really give a damn until "activists" decided to make the Next Big Thing of it, since they must constantly discover new victims to champion and new forms of oppression to discover they always opposed — and, of course, new ways to vilify their political enemies, new ways to attack traditional norms, and new ways to undermine the social fabric.

Not all injustice was solved at the beginning of time, therefore we're all disgusting hypocrites complicit in everything? And never mind the fact that most people supporting these changes were not alive in 1957, 1965 or 1973.

Sometimes you don't realize that an injustice exists until someone brings it to your attention.

So ... now that you know that 1152 women are raped daily in the DRC, what are you doing about it? Or ... will you pick your battles, ones that are close enough to home that you can actually impact that?

First, thanks for sharing - particularly here, given the above.

On whether Option 1 is truly ruled out, isn't it a little like race? And the same question, whether this is something government should decide/track going forward?

Maybe government should be mute on what is a race as well as what is a gender.

"While the anti-trans movement also sometimes uses the language of care (saving us from ourselves, which has been discredited since the work of Harry Benjamin in the 1960s) and liberty/oppression (seeing themselves as the aggrieved victims of political correctness or axe-grinding about “World War T”, particularly on the alt-right), their hearts are not really in it."

Really? I see it all the time. There are plenty of people who think the trans movement is about oppression -- a totalitarian ideology signaling its power by forcing people to pretend to believe in an obvious lie. "2 + 2 = 5! Men can be women!" It's showing up ITT, even.

That's not what it's about, of course -- well, maybe it is for Noah Slater -- but the fact that the American left has completely lost the good faith of everyone who isn't in it doesn't bode well. Some of my gay friends are starting to worry about a backlash hitting them, even. there's already backlash against gays, from the left, because we won that Supreme Court case, which doesn't bode well either -- you can ally with progressivism, but if it gives you a symbolic victory, it'll turn on you then and there. And if it was powerful enough to give you a symbolic victory...

Trump/Jenner 2016?

It's strange that the freedom loving right wing is not the locus of these fights for rights, freedoms from oppression, etc., on the part of discriminated against individuals and groups. I guess the freedom to hate and discriminate against people (I do not suggest this applies to all, some have morally founded reasons, no matter that others disagree) trumps the freedom to live free of arbitrary hate and discrimination - at least, for some.

It strikes me as very much a distraction from far more important issues.

For "freedom", read "no one on my lawn". The freedom-loving right wing isn't Nozick -- it's Shrek. And it's hard to blame them. Progressives are overwhelmingly smug little pricks who think they have the Weltgeist-given right to tell everyone everywhere exactly how to live. And most of their advice is awful. (How many degrees are there between the progressive establishment and Hitler? Um, one. How about Stalin? FDR ordered the creation of pro-Soviet and pro-Stalinist-show-trial propaganda for domestic distribution. How about Mao? Or Pol Pot? And so on. Admittedly, Pol Pot wasn't directly influenced by American progressivism -- it was French progressivism that did it -- but all the cool kids at the Harvard Crimson loved him.)

The gay marriage thing scared a lot of people -- for good reason. Public opinion flipped completely in the space of two decades. And they went straight to the Supreme Court. What happened to federalism? If the people of Utah or Wyoming don't want to have gay marriage, why should they have to have it? Can't gays get married elsewhere? Well, no, comrade, our struggle is global...

If you're not free to ignore Lord Farquaad when he gets all up in your swamp, how free are you really? You're free to share all his values, and you're free to choose between Coke and Pepsi, but that's about it. We'd all agree that one ought not to be free to have the values of precolonial Dahomey, where every year the emperor sacrificed a hundred slaves and decorated the capital city with their skulls, but the Mormons are far from Dahomey.

On the other hand, you might not want your people to be guaranteed to suffer until they can get to friendly territory... and that gets complicated when the trait that marks out 'your people' isn't passed down from parent to child.

I'm pretty sure this is an appropriate instance to call out "Godwin".

Some minority of progressives at the extreme are pretty offensive in their ways. But unlike the way that social conservatives want to rule people's lives, they limit themselves to speaking publicly about precisely what the "offending" individual said, and do not, for example, propose prison sentences for inhaling the buds of innocuous green plants.

Left to their own ways, SJWs would mostly go around telling everyone what you said, and claiming that you should get fired, etc. Left to their own ways, social conservatives would be imprisoning people for doing what they disapprove of. I find SJWs generally more irritating, but far less threatening to my fundamental rights.

Left to their own ways, progressives would kill anyone they don't like and build gulags. Progressives have been left to their own ways before. They killed everyone they didn't like and built gulags. And American progressives cheered them on.

"It’s strange that the freedom loving right wing is not the locus of these fights for rights, freedoms from oppression, etc., on the part of discriminated against individuals and groups"

It's not discrimination to say that you have a mental illness, are hallucinating, and you can't force others to take your hallucinations seriously.

That's called psychiatric help.

I'm not clear how society pandering to their psychosis helps them. They are not their preferred sex. Helping them learn to accept that would be money better spent than forcing every state city and town to recondition their bathrooms.

Is there any reliable way to "help them learn to accept that"?

On the one hand, trans normalization will probably lead to a small increase in the number of trans people; on the other hand, the core of the demographic is going to be there even without normalization, and what do you do with them? It's not a mass hallucination of the West -- similar conditions show up in North Korea, India, some traditional Amerind societies, and even ancient Rome. (Speaking of which, there's an obvious compromise candidate in the Jackson/Tubman controversy. On the one hand, progressives want someone relevant to current political conflicts; on the other hand, conservatives could go for setting up a link to our classical predecessors. Why not put Elagabalus on the $20?)

Part of what's going on here is that increasing population, population density, and connections make it easier for weird people to find people who are weird in the same way. If you're the only gay Eskimo in your tribe, you might not realize that being gay is a thing -- you might figure that men are naturally attracted to men, but suck it up and marry women for the good of the tribe. If you're in a country of three hundred million people, on the other hand...

Yes, acceptance based therapies like acceptance commitment therapy are very powerful, effective, and much cheaper than changing every bathroom in America.

Your second paragraph is very interesting. I had not thought about how increased connectivity will bolster the strength of what were once minor coalitions. Good point!

That's interesting -- can ACT treat gender identity disorder? Are there papers?

I wouldn't put it as "bolstering the strength of minor coalitions". The strength of coalitions still seems to be determined by alliances with power. It's more like subcultures. In 1776, the USA had 2.5 million people; now it has over 300 million. In 1790, the USA was 80% rural; now it's 80% urban/suburban. If you want to do something that 0.1% of the population will be into in 1776, your target audience is 2500 people and they're scattered all over the place; if you want to do something like that now, your target audience is 300,000 people, they mostly live in cities, and there's the internet. And the same processes that make it possible to target niche audiences also create more people who want to target them, let those people get together and notice that they all want to do the thing, etc. (Cf. this line in a SSC post: "I remember hearing once on Dan Savage’s podcast that he gets letters from gay men who grew up in very conservative parts of the country, who didn’t know that being straight was a thing. They assumed all men were attracted to men, but just hid it.")

+1 for the Corky and the Juice Pigs reference.

Sounds pretty constructive. "Help them to understand their psychosis". Remember how homosexuality used to be considered as a mental illness too? The Hindus figured this out millennia ago, recognizing trannies as part of the natural order of things (within a caste system that I do not support).

Do Hindus consider the mentally ill part of the natural order of things?

I just watched "Spotlight" last evening.

I would be more worried about having my son go into a bathroom with a cleric than a transgender person.

Most of the molestation in the Catholic church was done by gay priests. I agree that it shows that gays are degenerate perverts and a threat when placed in positions of authority over the young.

"I agree with..." (something he didn't even remotely say).

So, asdf, you are saying that there should be a separate bathroom for males born male but who are gay, and a separate bathroom for persons born female but who dress as male. And, I suppose there should also be a separate bathroom for lesbians, and males born male who become female.

That makes a total of 6 different bathrooms.

And, counting.

I think there should be two bathrooms. I think mentally damaged perverts should be kept away from situations where they are likely to harm others, especially minors, to the extent pragmatism allows.

Up until now if some skeevy dude was in the women's room, the women could complain and somebody would make these men use the correct restroom if the situation warranted it. Now they are told to shut up and live with their discomfort because they are second class citizens.

What! You are going to expose me to "mentally damaged perverts" (gay males, in your mind) and my daughter to mentally damaged females (lesbians in your mind).

The only person who seems to raise their status by calling others perverted is you.

Which tells me how low status you must be to try raise your status by lowering others.

How about separate water fountains.

If someone is dressed and acts normal, one can't tell right away if ones a pervert. However, if one is dressed and acting like a perv, people will see them as a likely pervert, and will use what options they have to minimize the risk (like as the store manager to speak to perv, and have a security guard remove him if he becomes belligerent). When people see someone like this in the ladies room, they know its prudent to be worried and take reasonable steps to ensure their safety.

People will use their judgement and common sense, which you ask them to abandon in the service of ideology.

As to separate water fountains we already have them. Separation is the revealed preference of society.

People don't share water fountains anymore, they buy bottled water if they can afford it.

I think the reference to Haidt's work is on point.

Given that NC and Miss are the only two state's to legislate in this area,

It means that the rest of the US--including your state--permits transgender persons to use the bathrooms or shower stalls of their choice.

How many transgender altered males or females have you seen in your YMCA shower room, or bathroom facilities, or public beach bath houses.

I bet none.

So, what we have going on here is something that is directly relevant to Haidt's theses.

This is all fiction and you are being led around by the nose of your prejudices by some conservative religious bigots who want your vote.

You desire to slander people who want to protect their little girls from having to shower with teenage boys has rendered you devoid of reason. Try hating less and thinking more.

Calling someone a bigot doesn't mean you hate them.


Do not travel outside of Mississippi or North Carolina.

If you do....You will be exposing your little girls to grave dangers, as none of these other states have these essential protections and separations you demand to protect your bodily fluids, er, sorry, your little girls showering with perverted teenage boys.

The world is dangerous and creepy. So, stay in Mississippi and North Carolina.

Your ignorance is not a rebuttal. Try harder. You can't possibly be that stupid.

It's the exact opposite of this, though, isn't it? It's a pet project of the trans community created by them and kept in the news to further their agenda. I'm all for having no explicit rules about who can use what bathroom but I do not agree that there should be a law that anyone can go in any bathroom they want and you are not allowed to question it and are a bigot for doing so. Because of the obvious problems resulting from abuse by non-trans people.

Nobody is special. if what you want burdens society, society has no inherent obligations to you. Trans people are a tiny subset of freaks*, I see zero reason any of us should have to re-orient our lives around them.

The question shouldn't be "what can we do for trans people?" It should be, "what do they add to our society, why bother with them at all?"

*When one examines their social statistics, its quite easy to see they are a burden on society.

"For instance, my conservative Republican father managed a trans woman employee a few years ago, well before I “came out”. This woman had to use the bathroom and locker room at work. To make this work out, the company called a meeting of all of the female employees, and they led a respectful conversation about what was going on. This effort resulted in the other women accepting the trans woman as one of their own; she got to use the locker room; and nobody felt threatened or disgusted. It was a win-win for everyone involved, and it also sent a positive message."

Do you believe this nonsense? Yes, we gathered everyone up and told them that this is the new company policy and if you don't like it you will be ostracized and it will hurt your career. Everyone knows that's the subtext even if it doesn't get stated explicitly (and there are plenty of instances where it is). Amazing that people would stay silent to protect their livelihood.

Just insert trans for race:

The manager of a professional office places on the wall of the break room, among the fliers and announcements, a poster with people of different races working together on a project and the slogan: “Celebrate Diversity.” Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of racial diversity among employees? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a celebration might occur and what it would mean?

I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of office managers never think about the slogans they put on their walls, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our manager from the enterprise headquarters along with the pens and coffee packets. He put it on the wall simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration on the break room wall; someone might even accuse him of racism. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life; it is “socially responsible,” as they say.

Obviously the manager is indifferent to the semantic content of the slogan on exhibit; he does not put the slogan on the wall from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: “I, the manager XY, work here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.” This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the manager’s superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the manager from potential complaints. The slogan’s real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the manager’s existence. It reflects his vital interests. But what are those vital interests?

Let us take note: if the manager had been instructed to display the slogan “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The manager would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation on the office wall, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the manager to say, “What’s wrong with celebrating diversity?” Thus the sign helps the manager to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. It hides them behind the facade of something high. And that something is ideology.

Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the office manager, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in diversity being celebrated, to the highest executive, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about inclusion. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe.

The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.

[This post was inspired by Vaclav Havel’s “greengrocer’s sign” metaphor from his 1979 essay “The Power of the Powerless.” See my comment in the thread below for a clarification on the authorship and the original language of the above excerpt.]

"When one examines their social statistics, its quite easy to see they are a burden on society."

No, dude. That's some of my friends you're talking about.

You know what they say about stopped clocks.

"As such, I have followed the debate about trans* people since I was young, since this debate is about my very survival. "

I somehow missed this debate about mass killing.

Good Conclusion, with one caveat -- the claim that the heightened issue is the result of Reaction on the Right seems incorrect. This recent contretemps has been pushed from the Left and by the Obama administration. A transgender acquaintance of mine posted a message months ago to his ex-wife right after Obergfell "And we're Next! #Occupotty." You can Google #Occupotty with a custom range and see that it explodes in usage between 2011 and 2012, well before any of this reached the headlines.

Standard left-wing tactic. Punch people in the face and claim to be a victim when they object.

What exactly is the "punch" in this case?

I thought right wingers prioritized being all tough and stuff. Are some Twitter feeds and Facebook posts really that damaging to the psyche? Like, definitely, yeah, they can be in certain ways, times and places, but in this specific instance ... really?

You really are a dishonest piece of shit, aren't you?

Yes, my understanding was definitely that this was precipitated by laws passed based on trans support to require that anyone can use any bathroom they identify with, and the backlash was to that, not some mysterious discovery that trans people exist, as the author would like us to believe.

Transgender issues are getting old.

So what's the next weird thing that we're supposed to get worked up about?

The next and continuing weird thing is religious freedom conflicting with purchasing wedding cakes, and whether your religious freedom to burn a funeral pyre in public conflicts with zoning ordinances.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I would suppose that the nature of compromise would also lead to opposing Charlotte's ordinance, and rejecting attempts to punish people for refusing take part in religious ceremonies, instead allowing for a certain amount of diversity.

It certainly is the case that the highly flawed NC HB2 would not have come about without the Charlotte ordinance, and it's certainly the case that many of the other bills and controversies would not have come about without attempts to bankrupt bakers and florists, or the ACA demanding that therapists not refer people to other therapists if they disagree with desired treatment. A society that decides that a pizza parlor that says "I would be happy to serve anyone who comes into our restaurant, but would have difficulty catering a religious ceremony I have objections to" must be destroyed is a society that cannot accept compromise.

A movement in a minority asks for diversity and tolerance. The same movement in a majority seeks uniformity. That is true of all sides, everywhere and at all times.

Nonsense. A movement to allow what is proscribed, or allow deviation from what is required, asks for diversity and tolerance. Minority/majority has nothing to do with it. Neither does right/wrong.

Then the Christian bakers ask for diversity and tolerance?

I know someone whose profession involves non-religious aspects of wedding ceremonies. Of course, if he doesn't want to take part in any given ceremony he can always make up some excuse. But when you proudly advertise "I don't serve group X because they are immoral and wrong...", you're setting yourself up for a lawsuit.

Jesus would have baked the cake.

Yeah, the Jebes guy was all about embracing make them stop sinning :)

But, we forget that last part.

With all the people here worked up about how letting trans people go into whatever bathroom will threaten "my little girl," (although in most places they have been going into whatever bathroom they like already), I decided to see if there were any data on this.

It turns out that in the states where Charlotte style ordinances have passed explicitly protecting rights of trans people use the bathroom of their choice, the number of sexual molestation incidents by trans people in bathrooms has been zero, that is right, zero. The people getting all hysterical about this are just that, hysterical as well as seriously misinformed, whether that is due to their being sick and disgusting as well, I do not know.

I looked through the list of nearly 200 crimes committed by trans people that the radical feminist link provided. Exactly one involved inappropriate behavior in a bathroom.

Oh, and as one website noted, there have been more cases of Republican lawmakers getting arrested for inappropriate conduct in public bathrooms than there have been trans people so arrested. But I suppose this shows prejudice against those noble and God-fearing men. OTOH, maybe we should have a law against Republican lawmakers using public bathrooms as they seem to be a bigger problem than either actual trans people or people pretending to be trans people are.

In any case,. the most obviously true remark about all this is that this a solution trying to find a problem. What is clear from the comments here is that the much bigger problem is indeed hatred and prejudice by misinformed and hysterical people. Some of you people really need psychiatric help. Really.

Comments like this are why the people you're talking about are responding the way they are.

Yeah, I am such an undiplomatic meanie. I should tell these people that they are very moral and nice and just wonderful human beings.

On another note I would point out that we have always had people who are mixed gender chomosomally, such as being XXY with Klinefelter's Syndrome, with many of these people having very confusing genitalia, real hermaphodites. I would also note that Talmudic discussions of Jewish law have allowed for such people and expect them to be treated with respect. It even allows for "mistakes" where someone is raised for awhile as one gender only for it to be realized later that they are the other gender, and it is OK to make the change. So these bathroom laws are in violation of Jewish Law.

There is nothing in the New Testament about these issues, so anybody citing religion for their prejudices is just dead wrong, an ignorant moron, as well as being a hateful and nauseating human being.

Gosh, I realize I need to apologize to these good people who want to keep the trans people out of bathrooms not of the gender they were born into. I am clearly violating their religious liberty by my remarks.

I should treat them with the same respect as those good Southerners who wanted to maintain separate drinking fountains for the races. I mean the Bible says that the descendants of Ham are cursed because Ham failed to cover his father Noah when he had a few too many. This was a serious crime, a violation of one of the Ten Commandments, clearly justifying enslaving them and making them drink at separate fountains.

And also we know that if they were allowed to drink at whitey fountains, they would molest white women, especially young white women. I mean, they might molest somebody's small daughter! And, of course, we know that this is exactly what happened when those cursed descendants of Ham were allowed to drink at our fountians. Everybody knows that. Even having laws against such molestation, as we do, could not prevent it, and will be helpless and hopeless against the certain tide of molestations of the young daughters of posters here. We must respect these views most respectfully.

Blacks commit crimes at higher rates then whites, and neighborhoods with lots of blacks are ghettos nobody wants to live in. People go into debt and pay sky high prices for real estate that physically separates them from blacks, even by a few blocks, so that they don't have to share water fountains with them. If someone is willing to go into debt for their entire life just to avoid blacks, I think we can safely assume they are afraid of what proximity and interaction would mean to them and their family.

The worry is much more about how shifting the legal and cultural standards will lead to changes in behavior. Things like this:

It is quite reasonable to expect that as trans behavior becomes commonplace, there will be increased use of such legal "rights" by individuals looking for illicit access. With a free-for-all based only self description I find incredibly hard to believe that the subset of teenage males who either will not or cannot avoid sexual intercourse with women too drunk to consent will balk for long at any stigma associated with pro forma claiming to be trans.

After all, we need legions of support staff to ensure that the best educated demographic in history does not rape their female peers, but merely social convention will stop them from abusing the new status quo in locker rooms?

A teenage male goes into the girls' bathroom at his school and says he's actually a trans woman. At that point, he has two options: he either gets treated as a woman for a long time (and becomes expected to further transition) or walks it back, at which point everyone knows he's just being a creep.

Then again, IME there's already a norm that trans people who aren't far enough along into their transition to at least make their status clear should use the bathroom corresponding to their birth sex.

Public shower rooms and so on are different from bathrooms. Where I'm from, there are strong norms against that sort of quasipublic nudity -- the gym showers have stalls and so on -- and I think it's pretty weird that adult women and young girls were naked in the same room in that college in Washington. Of course, if they don't want to adopt these norms, that makes things complicated -- either there are penises in the women's room and vaginas in the men's room or there are breasts in the men's room. (And what of the trans women who can pass successfully and be attractive to straight men...?) Whatever, not my culture.

"becomes expected to further transition" I think the trans community would strongly object to that.

Furthermore I would expect such people to behave in that way primarily not in their own school where everyone knows them

An "econ professor" who doesn't understand the concept of incidence rate.

Cute :)

You work for an organization that is a leader in discriminating against men as evidenced by your demographics. It's time to be quiet, hypocrite.

Thanks for showing up in your white sheet, asdf. But I am not going to let you drink at a fountain anywhere near me..

AIG, and we are supposed to take seriously a guy who is named for an insurance company that wrecked the world economy?

Actually, Thomas, JMU has been accused of letting in males who did worse on SATs and all that compared to women in an effort to get closer to a balance. The place was once a womens' state teachers college, and it is still the case that women apply more than men. Seems you are just ignorant.

"AIG, and we are supposed to take seriously a guy who is named for an insurance company that wrecked the world economy?"

You don't have to take me seriously. God knows I don't take you seriously.

But my point still stands: you really don't understand incidence rates? You seem to be talking absolute numbers here, without taking into account the populations involved. But you probably think there's thousands of trans folk running around in Charlotte, trying to use the wrong bathrooms.

Sorry, AIG, but the incidence rate of child (or even adult) molestation in places where these laws have been passed has been zero. Changing the denominator on this does not change the rate unless that denominator is zero, which it is not. Yeah, we had a case of some high school kid hanging out in the girls' bathroom, but no evidence of him molesting anybody, which is indeed against the law, period. WaPo had a good article yesterday on how some businesses have responded to this, with one ten years ago turning the former mens' room into a single user room and then making the womens' bathroom coed or unisex or whatever term you want. So far, no complaints. For people who need super privacy, they can use the single user room, whatever their issue. For those more relaxed, go the unisex one, oh, and have the stalls go the floor like they do in most of the rest of the world. Pretty much gets rid of most of the problems. And for locker rooms, oh try putting in some shower curtains for Pete's sake.

Anyway, AIG, looks like you are the one who does not know about incidence rates. No wonder AIG has been such a disastrous company.

I think you mischaracterize the concern. It's not that transgenders (who are less than 0.2% of the population) are going to molest girls and women. It's that rapists and other perverts will take advantage of a law permitting men in women's restrooms to assault girls and women. I don't know know how likely that is to happen, but at the very least you ought to address the actual concern expressed instead of some straw man.

Yes- deliberately and disingenuously mischaracterizes, like so many others

But these laws don't just say "trans" people can use any restroom, they say anyone can use any restroom (and see NYC ordinance and Target policy). And it is NOT just about rapes but about the mere presence of men in restrooms and locker rooms/showers, regular men, not trans. Once you say any man can use any restroom, you can't kick them out if they are just hanging around or joining the ladies in the shower.

Actually it shows that many homosexuals--Republican and otherwise--like to use public bathrooms as a cruising ground. But to point out that obvious fact would be regarded as homophobic.

The risk posed by genuine transsexuals is small because there are so few of them, but the larger risk is posed by those who would use it as an excuse for vulgar or predatory behavior.

If a person can be prosecuted for committing fraud because they advertise wedding cakes and so one would assume that they can get a wedding cake there and they went to the trouble of going there and were refused, can a person with a penus dressed as a woman be considered to be committing fraud if a male pursues them?

I say grace and mercy all around.Ignore the slights, some things do not work well as laws. Government does not have the tools.

BTW the bible has this interesting verse:
For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others--and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

Real transgenders are discovered in childhood or in adolescence at the latest. Adult transgender is risible. Problem with adults is between their ears not their legs. If you have ever worked with adult males who decide to become females you know that the working women are having none of it. They remain homosexuals. And the one I knew wound up commiting suicide.

Something that is not addressed is that most so-called "anti-trans" people are those who just want the status quo to remain, and this article says that the status quo has pretty much worked out when people just went their own way. It is the attempt to force not just new laws but a new social order over top of any kind of consensus, let alone majority consensus. This is what leads to resentment and backlash.

Secondly, people also rightly recognize that the activism, as this article also insinuates, is intended to impose a novel definition of gender in general onto the populace- essentially telling people that their own experience of their gender is a socially induced illusion. For anyone else but cis-hetero people, imposing a definition of their experience is considered offensive.

This, 1000 times over.

I can only imagine what will be the norm 10 years from now. I suspect, in 10 years, actually being a regular straight person will be considered offensive. We're already there on a number of other fronts

Warning, the following article is HATEFUL un-safe speech by psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins!!!!

"policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention"

So the Leftist/confused liberation position is that....

1) Science good when it says things we like
2) Science bad when it says things we don't like

I have a been a long time reader of MR and fan of both TC and AT, but reading the comment section of this post and the previous post on transgender issue is really making me question my readership. I have always read this blog from my centred perspective, socially liberal but somewhat fiscal conservative. But now I realized that the readership of this blog is more of the hardcore crazy conservatives I run away from when in the same room. People who provoke the deepest disgust in me, people who believe themselves always in the right while holding their silly little book. Racist, transphobic, homophobic, probably white males, with strong superiority complex, who are sure nobody could ever be as intelligent as they are.
I feel sad that the author of such intelligent post (Claire) will see the horrendous diatribe in this thread. I feel sad for TC himself who stands opposite from the commentators. I wanted to comment to show my support for this intelligent, well written post, a post I very much agree with. The law Is a blunt instrument, and we could all use more Hayek.

"Probably white males... " You sexist, racist, privileged woman. Try making an argument, instead of making racist and sexist statements based in your own social privilege.

LOL. She won't even get the irony of her statement.

It's impossible to be racist or sexist against white males.

would your fantasy work better if I was a privileged white, blond woman? I am none of those things, but hey, whatever gets you going ;)

As a mathematical identity...someone who uses words like "transphobic, homophobic probably white male" as an attempt at not as intelligent.

If I were to respond in kind, hypothetically since obviously I would never :p...I'd call you some dumb ignorant white female, and probably blond too

PS: BTW, I don't see why you assume there's some sort of "phobia" involved? I have no problem with any of them. Not even a bit. I just don't take their delusions seriously. Considering that mental the definitions of the professions, I see no "phobia" involved in me calling it that, any more than there's any "phobia" involved in me saying that a schizophrenic is not actually hearing real voices, but is imagining them. There's no "hate" or "phobia" involved. Just the facts.

PPS: BTW, if you think "white males" are the problem here, I suggest you take a trip down to your nearest ghetto (probably not alone, and probably not after dark), and ask some of the fine non-white gentleman of their opinions of trans and gay folks.

Hey, I sympathize with your concern, but I don't think we can just paper over this one and say "socially liberal means all trans concepts are okay".

Maybe that image of yourself as socially liberal makes you see this issue as more black and white than it really is. If there truly is no objective criteria for determining gender in these sort of situations, it calls into question why we make any separation between male and female at all. The trans-rights position leads to some very odd questions about what it means to male and female, it not XX and XY. Many trans people describing their situation often say- I always knew I was a man/woman. But what do they mean by that?

It seems like there are two common answers. One is that there are sexist stereotypes of males and females in a culture. If a person feels like they are closer to the stereotype of the gender opposite their physical one, they may think they have to be other gender than the one they are. They buy into sexist stereotypes so much, that they start to apply to themselves, and become unsatisfied with their physical gender. The better solution is to be more open to more ways of being a boy or a girl, a man or a woman. While sexist stereotypes exist, trans people should be better at getting around them than most of us. In fact, the current issue resolution seems short sighted, as there are many people that believe something other than male or female best describes their gender. Facebook has registered over 100 distinct answers to the question, each of which can't have their own locker room. There are even a large number of otherkin, identifying with non-human animals- even imaginary ones like the dragonkin. At some point, we stop indulging these fantasies.

The second answer given is people that have body dysmorphia problems. I find giving into this feeling also troubling, it is like agreeing with an anorexic who says she's fat. Just because you feel a certain way, doesn't mean you are. We see other forms of this problem, such as the transable, who often want to remove one of their limbs. I also don't see this as being a good problem.

All of that said, if someone wants to pretend to be something else, wants to get surgery, I don't really care, live and let live. However, when their rights interfere with others' rights, I don't automatically side with the people that are hated by the religious folks for completely separate reasons....

Wow, slow down there. First off, I agree with you on pretty much everything you said. What you described is, in the worst case an actual mental disorder, and in the milder case a psychological problem. But, at the end there, you kind of ruined a very good thing by not being able to help yourself but attack "religious people" for no particular reason. And assuming that they "hate" anyone here.

Their positions are identical to yours, but when they hold it it's "hate", and when you hold it it's "socially liberal"?

So you just committed the same transgression she did in her post. But I assume you're trying to hold contradictory opinions since you started out with "I sympathize with your concern", but then went on to reiterate every "hateful" point made here (in much less "hateful" ways)

You're just getting a tiny glimpse of what normal people think. I guess normal behavior is the new "hardcore," as you say.

Its funny that these positions were "normal" and mainstream in the Democratic Party and most liberals...only a decade ago or so.

Now that we hold the exact same positions...they...held a decade ago, we're hateful. But they weren't hateful a decade ago.

I know that saying "liberalism is a mental disorder" is factually wrong, and silly, and overused trope, and I don't agree with it...but man am I tempted to say it in this case!

Standard BoBo in Paradise thinking. Everyone who disagrees with me is hardcore, even if I am a decided minority.

People who provoke the deepest disgust in me, people who believe themselves always in the right while holding their silly little book. Racist, transphobic, homophobic, probably white males, with strong superiority complex, who are sure nobody could ever be as intelligent as they are.
I feel sad that the author of such intelligent post (Claire) will see the horrendous diatribe in this thread.

Pleased to have upset you.

Yep, the extreme right-wingers who want bathroom access to be unregulated and vote for libertarian presidential candidates. Maybe you should stop and think about the fact that so many smart people disagree with you and consider whether it is even possible that you are wrong?

If you don't like it here, the door is behind you. Vaya con dios.

al menos se usar el hilo de conversacion de la manera correcta. Y soy atea asi que el envio no ayuda..

The bathroom issue is definitely overplayed by the separation of genders people. The locker room / changing room / shower scenario is too quickly dismissed by transgender rights people. Let's say we have a Muslim girl getting ready for swimming at the pool. She has fought to get the right to wear a hijab. She's now supposed to change into one of those everything covered but the feet and hands swimsuits next to a person with male genitalia exposed? It seems like a collision of rights. I am not even sure how someone that is sort of lazily transgendered (not a transexual) is going to get into the right swimming gear. You can't just hide all that stuff. It seems like that could be the line- will the person be disrobed in such a fashion that their physical gender is revealed? Everything else seems sort of small next to that.

"Let’s say we have a Muslim girl getting ready for swimming at the pool..."

I get why some people want to go through thought experiments like this but it certainly seems contrary to any small-government or libertarian tendency to feel the need to craft regulations around every conceivable scenario that may come up. It is time for the real world to intrude. First, social norms are such that many people below a certain age simply avoid any situation where they have to be naked in front of other people, even in locker rooms -- people carefully wrap towels around themselves, change in a bathroom stall, wear a bathing suit under their clothing, etc. Second, I am confused about how this would ever reach the point of being a live controversy. For someone to complain that someone in the female locker room has male genitalia, that person would have had to have conducted a visual inspection of said genitalia. And that certainly goes against locker room etiquette -- but see the first point, too.

Honestly, some of these increasingly far-fetched thought experiments seem motivated by prurience more than public policy. Most people really try very hard not to pay attention to the people around them and avoid any sort of visual contact when in public restrooms or locker rooms and try to get their business there done as quickly as possible. This whole exercise strikes me as control-freak, big-government micromanagement for conservatives.

Totally off-base. We want to enable local control and local solutions. Again, you have already made your decision: no one who notices genitalia at all matters, because normal people shy away from looking at other people's genitalia, and anyone who does is the pervert, not the tranny. I am fine with empowering local solutions. That means if a young girl sees a penis in the girl's room, she will be allowed to petition her local administrator, who will be empowered to remove the offending penis.

That is local, that is spontaneous order, that is fine. But do you really think the Loony Left will respect that? No. If a man with a penis is asked to be removed from the local Y's womens locker room, STRAIGHT TO FACEBOOK! Look at how I am being oppressed! THE LAW! CIVIL RIGHTS! YAEHHEHAHHH! Don't oppress with me your Social Order! I don't care if it's Hayekian, it's OPPRESSIVE!

Just look at Christian Bakeries or Pizzerias. Liberals do not believe in voluntary association, they believe in imposing their own order, through any means necessary. That you cannot see the obvious truth in front of you makes me think you are hopelessly blind.

Regardless of what you think the norms of behavior are, numerous people in gyms and locker rooms are wandering about unclothed. It's not a visual "inspection" that is required, as you falsely exaggerate, but merely a glance that brings someone into your field of view. I notice that you ignore the final point- most swimwear is revealing enough that casual concealment of one's gender will be unsuccessful.

In any case, the conflict of rights is obvious. Do people have the right to be in a place where they do not have to view the genitalia of the other physical gender and be observed in undress by people that have those genitalia, or do people have the right to prevent others from having that right? I think in this case, it is very clear. The very presence of non-transexual transgender people in the opposite dressing room negates the reason for having those rooms in the first place. Therefore, until society is ready to do away with single gendered changing rooms, the right to use the one intended for people with the other physical gender should be restricted.

I think the bathroom thing is largely a non-issue, as there is little chance of something being revealed there, and nudity should be defining line for now, given current societal norms.

It is pretty hard to avoid seeing the genitalia when the person is walking around naked, which it is their right to do in a locker room. Even if the women can get sneaky dressed, the man in the locker room need not do so. You must not go to a gym or YMCA or the beach... Ask your wife if she is ok with this.

A lot of talking past each other on this topic. E.g., the writer talks of being thought a perv. Isn't there a big space between that and mentally ill? Is there a difference between fearing trans people and not wanting your children to share a shower room with those of the other biology? Isn't the restroom issue more about faux-trans predators than about physically and dress-wise unremarkable trans people?

Hi all,

Claire here. That Claire.

I'm glad to see that this has sparked a conversation that, by the standards of comment sections, is actually a conversation and not just a shouting match. I expected much worse. This is a conversation that needs to happen in libertarian-ish circles, since I think that there's a lot that conservatives and libertarians (also, old-school liberals) can add. This is a conversation that we should not cede to the left, though the left has done a good job at pointing out some major problems. That's what the left does.

One place where the classical left and I part ways is on the importance of ideas. The left tends to think of things in terms of power relations, and this is sometimes on point. (See, for an extreme example: the way that the police handle mainly poor trans women of color, and how they are nicer to me because I am white and middle-class.) The solution to that set of problems is, in practice, to use concentrated power (like executive orders) against that power. But, in some extreme cases, these exercises of power come up against other factors, like (illegitimate) disgust, a tribal mentality, or a (legitimate) reluctance to change one's way of doing things based on pressure from above. This is what provokes a backlash like the one that we're seeing.

My main argument was that to address these conflicts, we need to take ideas more seriously. In the locker room example that I gave, the then-current way of doing things was to segregate people based on their presumed genital status, and this presumption was based on external appearance, which does not always line up with said status. This norm probably evolved for a good reason--basically as a quick-and-dirty way to keep straight guys from perving on straight women. Fine. But, there are always exceptions, and these exceptions have caused panic as long as I can remember--think of the angst that straight men had (still have?) toward gay men in the locker room, which I remember from my high school days--and there are simply people who don't come close to fitting binary ideas of gender. There are butch women, women with penises, fem men, men with vaginas, and people who are neither men nor women, with every conceivable set of equipment, none of which is any of our business.

In a well-functioning society, people would handle these exceptions to the binary system like adults, or they would find creative ways around them. In that high school near Chicago with a pervy wrestling coach-turned-politician (or that high school near Chicago where all of the busybodies have freaked out over a trans girl), a grown-up solution might be shower cabins (or at least shower curtains) for everyone! This would keep that wrestling coach at bay; this would let that trans girl shower in peace, and this is also nice for the more sheepish among us. Instead, this has turned into a federal issue, with the hate groups also piling on to make this kid's life hell. In that factory where a trans woman is working, the solution might be to get the buy-in of the other women. I also know of sports clubs and yoga clubs where this was not a problem. But this involves actually thinking things through, and thinking is not in fashion these days. Instead, we want one-size-fits-all solutions.

On the bathroom issue which is the subject of these bills, someone put it to me, "If you can see each others' genitals, you're doing it wrong." As in, if you're the one peeking under stalls or standing around staring at people as they wash their hands, then you're doing something wrong (and already illegal under voyeurism statutes). Some thoughtful people have come up with the idea of better-built private stalls, with a common sink area. This is something that is probably worth some thought, though I personally don't like sharing the bathroom with anyone.

The alternative--thoughtlessness--has real consequences. For instance, a friend of mine (a butch non-binary trans woman) was beaten severely for peeing in the women's room at a bar, angry, drunk man. My wife, who's a notch butcher than me, also gets yelled at regularly for doing her business. On the other hand, back when I had short hair and was still presenting as male-ish, I started having trouble passing as male, and I'd get yelled at for using the men's room. (Dear angry men, please MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!) I even had trouble for a while traveling on my own passport. I know many other people--not just trans people--who have trouble finding bathrooms or border controls in which they are pretty much guaranteed not to get beaten up or detained. Guess what effect labeling these people as "faux-trans predators" would have.

The solutions to these kinds of problems start with, "dude, chill." But this involves putting aside or working around some of our primal emotions--disgust, out-group stigma (as "mentally ill" or transgressive--I'm actually much saner and much more boring since transition), intellectual laziness, and the "I'm in charge" mentality that a lot of angry men have. These are the main problems that gay and trans people faced and still face. Trans people also have to deal with everybody's little pet theories about us--that we're mentally ill (not in the current DSM), if we're not pervs trying to get with their daughters or sons or themselves or ourselves (empirically debunked), or that we're somehow hell-bent on making everyone into androgynous clones, when we're not out there holding up 1950s binary gender norms (a double standard--actually we're quite diverse), or that we really care about someone's ontological theory of gender that is irrelevant for our day-to-day lives (nope)--and people are good at summoning up evidence for their pet theories. We all have that little lawyer in the back of our heads. We need to fire that little lawyer. Instead, we need to listen more to each other.

The main rules are, (1) my existence is non-negotiable, and (2) I don't care about your armchair ontological theory of gender, since that is not relevant to daily life. Trust me, I've thought this through better than you have, and my answer is, "I don't care. I'll go with whatever works." (In German: "Mir ist alles Wurst.") Let's go with revealed preference. Using that as a basis, let's talk instead about the questions, how do we improve privacy for everyone, including trans people and sheepish teenagers? How do we separate a moral panic from legitimate concerns? How do we reduce institutional discrimination, where that is the problem, and how do we accommodate a much-needed loosening of the gender binary that is already happening on the ground? These are questions where libertarians and right-thinking conservatives can and should make a good contribution.

Have a happy Sunday everyone,


"Trust me, I’ve thought this through better than you have" - Tell me how exactly this jives with supporting "Hayekian spontaneous order"? You have your pre-determined talking points: we NEED to increase privacy. Why? At Wrigley Field, we pee in a trough. It's efficient. But you've already determined your answer, because you know this better, and you have already thought this through, and my opinion doesn't even matter. Anyone who disagrees is not a right-thinking Conservative. So because I want efficiency, I'm guilty of Wrong-Thought.
Have you tried the Supreme Court as an occupation?

Claire, I can't imagine your frustration being a conservative transwomen, when the conservative movement has been hijacked by so much hate and fear mongering. I fully agree with you, the better solution would be a libertarian one, but libertarians are such a small number on the right they can't seem to get their thinking heard. What a shame.

It's basically impossible to have a solution that involves 1) trans people never being questioned about bathroom use ever, regardless of their appearance and demeanor and 2) stops predators from abusing/harassing people in bathrooms. It certainly is insane to require trans people to use the bathroom corresponding to their sex at birth when they have fully transitioned, but I think for certain trans people, there is no way to avoid some difficulties in this area. That is part of life for them and something as a culture that we should try to address (not by demonizing people), perhaps in part by ensuring the existence of one-person bathroom options, rather than by passing laws.

I don't think it's unreasonable that if someone thinks something is off, and is bothered or scared, they should be able to get the police to look into the situation and determine if there is a safety issue. Obviously there is already a law against beating up people and obviously it's not 100% effective and I don't know that passing a law that anybody can use any bathroom will help with that anyway- whereas using a single-stall bathroom would seem to eliminate the problem.

MEGO. Officialdom (esp. judges) and academe have no trouble ignoring (and riding roughshod) over far more socially significant minorities than headcases who think they were born in the wrong body. Society will continue to be jerked around per the stupid fashions of lawyers and academics until both sectors are stripped of their privileges and put in their place.

Art Deco,

Why is it that you think that people "who think that they were born in the wrong body" are "headcases" whose right to change their gender and have this recognized be suppressed? How about people whose chromosomal gender identity is not clearly male or female, such as those with Klinefelter's Syndrome, XXY, who often have very confusing and essentially hermaphroditic genitalia? Where would these stupid and bigoted laws make them go to relieve themselves?

Frankly, the lot of you have become increasingly disgusting in your comments, on top of being just plain stupid. You really want to force former women who now have beards, big muscles, and wear black leather and chains to go into womens' bathrooms? Is this going to make all your precious wives and small daughters feel comfortable? Just how out of your minds is the bunch of you all anyway?

I'm afraid that the problem has nothing to do with trans people. As the author said, they were getting along ok if not perfectly. Most people just look twice but otherwise don't care--outside of a restroom. The problem is that laws that say anyone can use any restroom they feel comfortable in result in the inability to keep regular (not trans) men (in particular) out of ladies restrooms and showers. The men can take care of themselves in their own restroom. Currently, if a man goes into a ladies room, they can scream for help or kick him out themselves if able to do so. Under "anything goes", they cannot. There have already been cases of a man refusing to leave the ladies shower area of a YMCA and a male high school student who claims to be a girl (but has not had surgery) who insists on showering with the girls and was supported by a court order. The problem of proper ID is irrelevant because no one is in a position to check "proper" ID especially when the claim now is that someone just has to "feel" like the other sex (ie no surgery) to have a need to use that restroom and when laws like in NYC make it not possible to even ask for proof (since that will offend the trans person). The example of the author's father's business with a single trans employee is likewise irrelevant because that is a small closed community of people known to each other where they can reach a specific agreement, not a beach shower house where everyone is a stranger. Saying "use whatever restroom you like" in a context of larger restrooms and showers is essentially saying you have no right to be modest or to not want to see a naked stranger in close proximity. The current system was working fine, if sometimes a little awkwardly.

The woman who wrote this piece is, I am sure, a nice person. However, that is entirely irrelevant to the discussion of why law and custom regarding public facilities like restrooms and locker rooms cannot be as elastic as she would like. As the last commenter says, basic modesty is offended by the possibility of random men - not trans-gender ones but any man - now being free to walk in to women's restrooms to gawk, never mind whether he is a predator or a prankster or a lusty teenage boy.

Meanwhile, 'Claire' displays her naivete in asking why it is that people express less fear of women wandering into men's restrooms and locker rooms than vice versa. For those of us who actually understand anything about the differences between men and women (and I'm guessing Claire does not), the answer is obvious: First, women are far less interested in ogling naked men than vice versa so the problem is unlikely to arise very often; second, women are generally nervous of entering men's spaces, not so much washrooms, but locker rooms etc; third, most women are more modest than men; fourth, most men can physically overpower most women and thus do not see them as physically threatening.

Finally, the idea that it is men rather than women who are most worried about men's new license to enter women's private spaces is nonsensical.

Thanks for sharing, Claire.

What's Claire's last name? Where does she work? Since she's out, I'm guessing this must be public information.

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