Recognize, do not stigmatize, a person’s chosen identity

Courtesy of MCT

Courtesy of MCT

 

On Friday March 15, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he urged members of his party to move away from their “anti-everything” stance.

“We’re associated with being anti-everything,” Bush said. “Way too many people believe that Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker … Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates because those voters feel unloved, unwanted and unwelcome in our party.”

Bush addressed a long standing ill within the Republican party when he made this speech; it’s no secret that Republicans are frequently viewed as being the party of exclusion.

And while some wise Republicans may have heeded Bush’s words, others were putting together proposed legislation that would exemplify the dilemma the former governor was speaking of.

Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Arizona) created a measure which would have required people to use the bathroom that reflects the sex listed on their birth certificate when in public places. The penalty for using the bathroom opposite of what’s listed on one’s certificate would result in six months jail time.

Many people felt that this bill was purposefully targeting transgendered individuals, which would make sense given its content.

The bill was supposed to come to a vote last Wednesday, but was pushed to a later date. While protesters flooded the lobby of the House to voice their objection to the proposed measure, Kavanagh claimed the postponement had to do with bad paperwork.

When asked about the bill, the Arizona representative said that individuals shouldn’t be able to use facilities based on the idea that “you are what you think you are.” He added that he was worried that a recently passed anti-discrimination ban in the city of Phoenix would make it easier for pedophiles to expose themselves to children of the opposite sex.

First of all, parents should always be with their very young children whenever they have to go to the bathroom. Pedophiles aren’t strictly interested in children of the opposite sex. There are pedophiles who are interested in same sex children as well. Any place that a child can be left alone can be a dangerous place.

Secondly, it’s likely that transgendered people have been using the bathroom of the sex that they identify with for far longer than there’s been legislation for or against such a thing.

It’s doubtful then that the bill recently passed in Phoenix has made the city a more dangerous place.

It’s easy for Kavanagh to take the position that he does as a straight conservative male. He would not be directly affected by this bill, which would require transgendered people to announce their birth sex to the public every time they have to go to the bathroom.

That’s where the danger truly lies. We live in a society that’s inching closer to acceptance of LGBT people, but we’re far from being there.

According to a study conducted in October 2010 by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 41 percent of transgendered people attempted suicide out of a sample of 7,000 individuals.

Nineteen percent of those individuals had been denied medical care and 2 percent had been assaulted in doctor’s offices.

In April of 2012, a Memphis man was arrested for beating a transgendered woman in a bar. The suspect’s brother allegedly tried to use his car to run the woman down, too. One year before that, a Maryland woman was sentenced to five years in prison for beating a transgendered woman in a McDonald’s.

Clearly, our society is not 100 percent  ready to accept transgendered people. Why point them out?

The only way to truly be fair is to allow people to go to the bathroom of the sex they identify with.

In the grand scheme of things, is it worthwhile to spend money on a law that would be almost impossible to enforce and that would humiliate a group of people? One would think that the economy and national security would be the American public’s top concerns.

How would one even determine if a transgendered person was using the “wrong” bathroom?

Most people don’t carry around a birth certificate around from place to place and it’s doubtful that restaurants, stores and other public settings would have someone verifying the birth certificates of everyone that goes in and out of a bathroom.

Republicans like Kavanagh need to recognize their days are numbered if they don’t move toward a more accepting stance on various issues. It’s for reasons like this that their party is facing many problems.

It’s time they make people feel included, not point them out in embarrassing displays.

About Alex Groves