America

A Pissing Match Over Public Bathrooms

By Andrej Mrevlje |

America entered another heated debate: should public bathrooms stay as they are? That is, should a transgender person use the restroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity? While the federal government — thanks to President Obama’s silent efforts finds itself on the progressive side, the Republican presidential candidates jumped on this issue like jungle lions over the past month, defending gender-regulated bathrooms much in the same way that they defend the idea that marriage is only between a woman and a man. It is interesting, though, that Donald Trump — who passes for the most conservative and racist among the  candidates — said last month that he “doesn’t have a problem with transgender bathrooms.”

Trump is now the only Republican candidate left, and he will almost definitely become the party’s nominee for president. This comes as a relief to those Americans who care and who are not only politically liberal, but sensitive enough to be aware of the problems that the transgender community encounters in this dangerously divided society. If by any chance Trump becomes president — and it seems to me that there are quite a few chances that this will happen — then at least transgender people will be safe behind the wall he is trying to build to protect America from immigrants. But on the other end of the spectrum is North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who is fighting to keep the state’s anti-transgender law.

However, there are also opinions that are somewhere in between. David Harsanyi of RealClearPolitics says that the discussion on public toilets has gone too far and that the federal government is wrong in comparing the dismissal of transgender people to discrimination against the black community, who in ’60s could not use public toilets at all:

The Jim Crow laws passed by states and localities to enforce racial segregation stripped millions of African-Americans not only of their liberty, but their dignity. The state punished them for their skin color, and kept them uneducated and poor. They could not escape their situation without more government interference.

The present situation is significantly different and less dire in every possible sense. It is the sort of social problem generally worked out among people in this country without unelected civil rights commissions punishing business owners for thought crimes. Under North Carolina’s law, no coffee shop or big-box store — any private company — is stopped from having its own desired bathroom setup. I’m pretty sure most voters don’t comprehend this fact through the distorted coverage of this law in the news.

 

Recently the Huffington Post gathered most of the arguments that have been touched upon in the public debate on this issue.

The list is both scary and insightful, illustrating the totally schizophrenic atmosphere in contemporary American society.

In addition to the Huffington Post’s list, I encourage you to read this open letter from a mother who has a transgender son. It should make us ponder.

How will this problem be resolved? Will it find its own natural resolution? Or should the government intervene, as Harsanyi is afraid it will? Is America overreacting? Would we even be discussing this problem if 2016 was not an election year? Does America need a Marshall Plan for public toilets? Perhaps someone should convince the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to start investing in America, considering that they are currently helping to build 250,000 eco-friendly public toilets in China.  
China seems to be obsessed with public toilets, but in a much different way. With the country in the middle of an economic slowdown, every income is becoming important. To eliminate smelly and unpleasant-looking public toilets that have no privacy at all, China is now massively investing in the rebuilding public toilets, hoping that this will attract more tourist. This may explain the latest trend in which China announced a new generation of Chinese public toilets that will also have free wifi and ATM machines!


Also published on Medium.

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