Until recently, I thought I was a cis-gendered male trapped in a cis-gendered male’s body, notwithstanding the times in middle school I claimed I was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body. I blame that on a shirt I saw after sneaking into Spencer’s Gifts. Obviously I had been blinded by my white privilege and gender-ignorance.
But now, thanks to Bruce Springsteen, Target, the ACLU and, of course, the always desperate-to-be-relevant Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas (Is it just me, or did his brains fall out when he took off his promise ring?), I have seen the light! I now realize that my insistence on two biologically assigned genders has been based on a lie perpetuated by an intolerant scientific establishment that doesn’t realize that gender is a choice. I’m looking at you, X and Y chromosomes.
I’ve always heard that when the tide goes out you can tell who’s been skinny dipping. Thanks to HB2, which effectively pulled down the shorts of the equal rights crowd, we now see who believes the U.S. Constitution, with its Fourteenth Amendment and the usefully vague Equal Protection Clause, extends to cover gender self-identity. And by “see” I mean, please don’t … you don’t have anything I actually want to see.
Clearly gender identity was on the mind of the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment. The country had just come through what is still the bloodiest conflict on U.S. soil, though the 2016 presidential race has the potential to match it. Slavery was effectively abolished throughout the South and the Union was being stitched back together. The recovery was arduous and would take nearly a hundred years, but I bet the one thing on those legislators’ minds was: One glorious day, men, this action will allow boys to dress like girls.
And be called Lola.
At this point I need to state that, in my opinion, the NC General Assembly went too far in the original bill. I believe that the right to sue for discrimination in state courts is important and should never have been removed. The threat of a lawsuit is as much of a deterrent to discrimination as a man or woman openly carrying a handgun is to being robbed. I applaud the governor for temporarily delaying it via executive action and hope that the NC legislators will permanently repeal it.
However, the broader issue is not actually about equal rights. Rather, it can be categorized in two ways: 1. Is gender identity a biological function assigned by DNA in utero or is it a construct of the mind, and 2. Does allowing anyone to use any restroom of their choice actually put the public, especially public school children, in danger?
The first question is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, however, if gender identity is eventually determined to be a psychological construct, where does the line get drawn? What is to prevent a white woman from self-identifying as African American, or a 5’7” man from self-identifying as 6’5,” or Hillary Clinton from self-identifying as woman who carries hot sauce around in her pocketbook? Has someone activated the infinite improbability drive and not told anyone?
The second category is answerable and, despite what is being widely reported, documented. Just as water will almost always take the path of least resistance, so too will someone intent on committing a crime go where it will be easiest to do so. Answer this: will a pedophile or rapist be more likely to use a different-gender restroom in Target or at the NRA national convention? I’ll take “Expect More. Pay Less for a thousand, Alex.”
While the above example is admittedly anecdotal, it still holds true. Those who are intent on committing crimes will do so at a time and place where they think it will be easiest. The way to stop them is not to put out the welcome mat and invite them in for tea. Instead, we need to make it more difficult. After all, the original intent of this bill was child safety. When did that become a bad thing?
But, thanks to the media coverage and celebrity protests, I will hedge my bets. In case I get in trouble with the law for this column, send me to the women’s prison. I’ll be happy to self-identify there.
Burwell Stark is a freelance writer living in North Carolina.