First, I want to talk about the article itself. Alex Berg posted yesterday her trending article "Stop Using Women And Girls To Justify Transphobia," which has been shared many times over on Facebook and was featured as a 'trending' article on the Huffington Post website. Berg describes herself as a multimedia journalist since she helps produce many of the Huffington Post's video segments along with documentaries dealing with the troublestroubles faced by the transgender population, and she focuses mostly on LGBTQ issues in her reporting.
|The Voice of All Women|
Her article is an opinion piece about the recent announcement from the Trump Administration where the president has stated that he will repeal a guidance put in by the Obama Administration allowing transgender people the ability to choose their bathroom of choice in a public school. Overall, she has reacted very negatively to the action, and she is very upset that those who opposed the guidance are using the protection of young girls as an argument against allowing transgender people into children's restrooms.
After claiming that rescinding the access of transgender women to women's restrooms in public schools as discrimination against the LGBTQ community, Berg begins her argument as such:
"A common claim that opponents of such protections for trans students make is that allowing transgender people into bathrooms endangers cisgender women and girls. In his much discussed appearance on “Real Time,” alt-right former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos told host Bill Maher that he “makes no apologies for protecting women and children from men who are confused about their sexual identity.” This argument perpetuates the myth that trans people are predators, when they are far more likely to face violence and harassment in restrooms at the hands of cis people."
It looks like Berg really looked at the facts when she decided to write her piece. The only problem is that the articles she is linking to are either misquoted by Berg or useless in terms of factual evidence. The first article that references how some argue that allowing transgender persons into bathrooms endangers cisgender women is actually a link to an interview with self-proclaimed radical feminist and chair on the director's board of the Women's Liberation Front, Kara Dansky, on "Tucker Carlson Tonight." In Dansky's interview, she did not say that the Obama guidance was endangering cisgender women, and instead she talked about the difference between rights for biological women and transgender women. From the Fox Insider article that accompanies the video segment;
"'We think that 'women and girls' are a meaningful category worthy of civil rights protection,' she [Dansky] said. 'If we define sex, under Title IX, to mean gender identity, what we're essentially saying is that "women and girl" can mean anyone who self-identifies as "women and girl," which makes the category "women and girls" meaningless as a category.'"Of course, it might be silly to assume that anyone can assume themselves as a different gender and therefore be legally defined as "transgender" under US Federal Law. Historically, the legal definition of transgender and gender identity has been left up to the states, but according to the original text from Obama's issued guidance, the letter ultimately usurps the state's power of transgender issues regarding public schools.
There are no educational programs that bar women or men specifically from attendance (except for historically all male or all female institutes, for which the majority have rewritten their rules to accept transgender students), however one could argue that sports teams that have been segregated by sex do limit certain gender's abilities to partake in said sports. I would argue that sexually segregated sports teams are something to be cherished due to the biological differences of the genders. Scientists once thought that women would one day be able to compete with men in track, cross country, cycling, and swimming events if they as a gender were allowed the equal opportunity of proper training, strong coaching, and more experience in the sports, however there is now considerable research available that states that women are unable to fairly compete with men due to the manner in which testosterone affects the muscles' strength and endurance along with the hormone's affects on heart size, oxygen levels in the bloodstream, and body fat percentage. As an example of this phenomena, here is a survey of ten thousand runners' 5k times compared by age and sex from pace-calculator.com;
The Obama ordinance has the potential of limiting or denying a student's ability to partake in an institution's activity by allowing a transgender female who doesn't have to provide medical documentation or partake in a medical treatment program to join a female sports team which would bar female students that didn't make the cut competing against a biological man and affect the outcomes of future competitions, games, and meets in the female sports team's league, and all the while the biological man will have complete access to the restrooms and locker rooms that would otherwise be restricted to his biologically female teammates. To reiterate, the transgender female wouldn't even be required to make an attempt to look like a female, and before I get criticisms for stating that females have a certain "look," I would like the readers attempting to make this criticism imagine a six-foot-tall, two hundred and forty pound transgender woman with a buzz-cut and goatee showering in the women's track team's locker room. Of course one might argue that this incident never happens and that it never would happen, but the response to such a quip is that if it were to occur, it would be legally acceptable. The fact is that there is potential for a man masquerading as a transgender female to dominate a women's sports league or enter and abuse women in a women's locker room, and that takes away women's protections from both unfair sports competitions against biological men and the reality that any male predator could potentially enter a woman's locker room or restroom.
To bring this conversation back to the quote from her article, Berg then goes on to mention right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopolous, who stated that he “makes no apologies for protecting women and children from men who are confused about their sexual identity.” She uses Yiannopolous's name as a hyperlink to an article that criticizes Bill Maher for "taking credit for the former Brietbart editor’s swift downfall." Now, a discussion on Yiannopolous's alleged defense of pedophilia is definitely worthy of discussion, however due to the lengthy subject matter that would need to be addressed I will follow in Berg's footsteps by skipping the article's content entirely and only focusing on the quote. Yiannopoulos's quote is similar to Danksy's, and the provocateur is stating that the cost of allowing transgender females into women's restrooms, locker rooms, and other female-only areas is the risk of sexual assault from a man masquerading as a transgender female and the overall degradation of the value of women's biology. Berg counters this statement by claiming that theses risks aren't as important as the risk of bullying and abuse of transgender people in the bathrooms congruent with their biological genders.
With this counterargument, Berg is assuming several things about the sexes. I hope that the reader remembers my claim of sexism at the beginning of this blog post, because this statement is abhorrently prejudiced to men, women, and transgender persons. To begin, the assumption that transgender women won't be bullied, harassed, or assaulted in a women's restroom or locker room implies that only men or those who identify as men are capable of these actions; furthermore, the assumption that transgender men won't be bullied, harassed, or assaulted in a men's restroom also implies that only women or those who identify as women are capable of these actions. In regards to transgender people, Berg is assuming that a transgender person wouldn't abuse his or her access to a public restroom and that transgender people can do no wrong when it comes to sexual assault. This of course is untrue, like for example the 2012 case of Jessica Hambrook (who's legal name is Christopher Hambrook) who had been living as a woman for three years and joined two women's shelters where she raped and sexually assaulted several women.
To further strengthen her argument, Berg used her statement about transgender people being more likely to face harassment and sexual abuse as a hyperlink to a UCLA study done by Dr. Jody L. Herman, PhD. The study concludes that transgender persons and those that do not conform to their biological gender are unsafe and under threat of abuse in restrooms that do not correlate with their biological gender, however the study finds itself under serious scrutiny due to a couple of blatant biases. The first bias is the sample size; the survey consists of 93 individuals who either work, live, go to school, or have spent time in Washington, DC. The second bias is the $50 lottery award to apply incentive for people to participate in the survey. The third and most damning bias that totally discredits the study is the method of data collection used by Dr. Herman;
With a cash incentive and an inability to prove one's nonconformity of their biological gender identity, the data collected excluding the unlisted amount of personal interviews and the six follow-up interviews is rendered unverifiable and useless. Dr. Herman states in her paper that the follow-up interviews were used to give more qualitative data for the study, but it is a logical fallacy to use six singular instances as a method of describing an entire group of people. I am not trying to argue that transgender women don't face harassment or physical assault in the women's restroom, but Berg's use of this study to prove her point is in my opinion extremely careless.
Berg continues her article by further attacking the protection of women and young girls through sex segregation;
"Yet, Yiannopoulos’s line is a common refrain that continues to be used by those who care little about real, not mythical, violence against women. When walking back LGBTQ protections or promoting so-called 'bathroom bills,' proponents of such legislation have said that allowing trans people to use the appropriate restroom means men can 'enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls,' and that businesses that allow trans people to use the appropriate restroom pose 'a danger to wives and daughters.'These two paragraphs are a shocking collection of blatant sexism, name calling, and projection. To begin, Berg states that those who oppose the sex segregation of gender-specific areas do not care about the violence that she considers real. After boldly making this claim, she then goes on to ignore the fact that the anti "bathroom bill" stance is founded upon the reality that there are people who have been abusing this type of anti-discriminatory legislation for years already; or in other words, she ignores real violence that happens to women. I'd like to allow the readers to imagine a scenario where a middle-aged man enters a women's locker room, exposes himself to a group of young girls, and faces no criminal charges for his actions. It sounds ridiculous that this could happen, but there are already numerous reported cases of peeping toms and sexual predators gaining access to women's locker rooms by sexually identifying as a woman. As an example, here is an incident where a man entered a women's changing room at a public pool and disrobed in front of a girl's swim team. He did this twice, and he wasn't prosecuted since he identified as a woman. Here is another case where a 45 year-old man is known to have spent his day lounging naked in a women's locker room that is frequented by girls as young as six years old. In this incident, the man was not only exonerated from any criminal charge, but he was also given continuous free access to the women's locker room due to his sexual identification.
But invoking women’s safety while ignoring real violence faced by women and girls on college campuses, on the street and within their own homes is nothing more than a veil for hate. This so-called protection is a justification for transphobia — and as cisgender women, we’re done being your excuse."
Berg states that those who oppose this type of legislation due to women's safety ignore violence against women on college campuses, the streets, and women's homes. This is not only a baseless claim, but also an extreme example of a straw man argument. Berg follow's the modern progressive left's practice of demonizing any person that disagree with her, and this is important when considering the information that she has cited to back up her claims in relation to this part of her quote;
"...as cisgender women, we’re done being your excuse."One might notice that I put the word "we're" in bold. Here is where the true sexism begins to peacock out of Berg's ideology behind transgender specific legislation and women's safety. She is claiming here that cisgender women are sick of being used as a reason to oppose these types of bills, but a lot of her information that she has supplied to claim that those who oppose "bathroom bills" came from cisgender female feminists. The truth of the matter is that not all cisgender women agree that transgender females should be allowed in women's private areas in a business or public structure, and even the first person she linked to, Kara Danksy, was a cisgender woman who explained the exact kind of behavior that Berg is displaying in her article. Danksy stated in her interview that the progressive left and the majority of the radical feminist organizations do not want a conversation about transgender access to sex segregated areas of privacy, and any person that dares to oppose the so-called "bathroom bills" will be labeled as transphobic or hateful. Perhaps Berg's quote implies that she believes all cisgender women think the same in regards to transgender bathroom legislation, or maybe Berg is suggesting that cisgender women who don't want transgender females in their restrooms and locker rooms have forfeited their right to identify as cisgender. Maybe there really is some kind of collective consciousness of cisgender women, and I am just not aware of it, and all of the cisgender women who oppose "bathroom bills" are just putting on a show. No matter how I try and interpret this statement, it only comes off as not only sexist but also as a blatant disregard for the potential endangerment of women's safety and privacy, and a purposeful ignorance of the previously reported occurrences of sexual harassment and violence towards women as a result of this type of legislation.
The illogical hate Berg has for women's safety advocates continues with more straw man arguments and deceiving statistics from overtly biased studies;
"There are no recorded cases of transgender people harming anyone in the bathroom. In fact, trans people are far more likely to encounter violence and harassment themselves. In 2016 alone, at least 27 transgender people were murdered, the majority being transgender women of color. A whopping 41 percent of transgender people will attempt suicide in their lifetimes, compared with just 4.6 percent of the general public, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute. On top of that, trans women encounter structural sexism just as cis women do. Perpetuating the lie that transgender people are predators just feeds into this discrimination. And we cis women never asked for this kind of “protection” to begin with."As I've demonstrated earlier, the statement of "no recorded cases of transgender people harming anyone in the bathroom" is a blatant lie. The lie comes from the fact that Berg is ignoring the definition of "transgender" and "gender identity" used in the Obama guidance. Any person who claims to be a transgender person is by the legal definition of the former Title IX guidance a transgender person regardless of medical diagnosis or attempt to display some sort of effort towards transitioning to the claimed gender identity. The 45 year-old man who flashed young girls in the Washington State public pool was protected by this type of legislation, since he is legally considered a transgender woman by definition. Jessica Hambrook who raped young women in the Toronto women's shelters was granted access to the shelters' sleeping quarters, restrooms, and locker rooms due to her legal status of being a transgender woman. The argument against the "bathroom bills" is not centered around those who are transgender and seeking out the proper medical help for their situation; it is about refusing to allow persons with malintent the legal ability to enter any female-only area of privacy while placing women and girls in unnecessary danger.
The rest of the paragraph enters transgender people into the Oppression Olympics, and Berg tries to convince her readers that the safety and privacy of female-only areas is irrelevant because of how badly transgender people get treated by society. These issues are very sad and disheartening, but they are all straw men; and furthermore, if I was a transgender person I would find it incredibly insulting that someone would try to state that sex integration for restrooms and other gender-specific areas of privacy would solve or combat the transgender suicide crisis. I would think that if 41% of all transgender people are attempting suicide, then there is a much more serious problem going on than feeling uncomfortable in a bathroom. The other argument that one could make is that transgender people are attempting suicide due to the amount of harassment they receive on a daily basis, but not only would granting bathroom access be irrelevant to solving this issue, the argument also frames a massive mental health issue that is plaguing the transgender community into something so trivializing as being harassed. There are (however unfortunate) a plethora of minority communities that are harassed on a daily basis, but the transgender community, according to Berg, are somehow the only community that is affected to the point in which there exists a 41% attempted suicide rate. There is no other community in the United States that comes withing spitting distance of 41%, and the margins are historically unheard of. To give some perspective, during the Holocaust, the rate of suicide in Nazi internment camps was somewhere between 25,000 to 100,000 suicides a year, meaning that 8% would be the highest possible estimate for risk or rate of suicide (the calculation being 500,000 divided by 6 million).
In my personal opinion, I think it is crazy to outright disregard the blatant safety risk imposed by allowing transgender person under the current legal definition to enter female-only and male-only areas. I think it's even crazier to make statements such as "Transgender people should be able to enter whatever bathroom they want because they try to kill themselves a lot" or "transgender people should be able to enter whatever bathroom they want because there's rape culture and people who don't support 'bathroom bills' don't care about rape culture;"
"If opponents of trans protections sincerely cared about the safety of women and girls, they’d care about ending rape culture. They’d care about holding President Trump accountable for more than 15 allegations of sexual assault and harassment against women. And they wouldn’t paternalistically tell us who we ought to fear when we proudly count trans and queer people as part of our communities."Allowing predators a loophole to legally enter women's restrooms and locker rooms is rape culture. President Trump's sexual assault allegations are so amazingly irrelevant that I shouldn't have to mention that they've all either been heavily discredited or the alleged victim has made a point to disappear (possibly because some of them were paid actors). Just because someone is against the "bathroom bills" doesn't mean they are telling you to fear trans people. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and just because people are questioning a law's practicality, it doesn't mean that those people are evil or succumbing to some sort of 'phobia.'
The good news is that I don't have to let people make me feel bad about caring for women's safety in public restrooms, and I hope the readers who took the time to read my blog post understand that they don't have to feel bad either. If you know that what you stand for is right, then you don't have to let anybody tell you how to feel. Offense is never given, it's only taken. As soon as our society realizes this concept, we'll be much more productive when it comes to solving our societal issues.
|"[T]here is a very rich blogosphere and Twitter community of marginalized feminists, and I try to engage with that community, but I find that as a queer woman the way that I experience the challenges that feminism tries to address is really different from a the way a straight woman might experience feminism." I am marginalized because I am queer and that is unfair, but God forbid if you disagree with my political opinions then you are nothing but pure evil.|