I met Bruce Jenner once. I was attending the annual sales award dinner in 1994 for the software company where I was employed at the time. Mr. Jenner was hired to give a speech and be in photographs with each of the award recipients, myself included. The message implied by standing next to an Olympic champion such as Bruce was that we were champions also, and that we were to go out and achieve even greater results next year.
As a transgender woman, I doubt that Caitlyn Jenner is in demand for such bookings anymore. Her decision to undergo gender reassignment, along with the reaction by the state of North Carolina to restrict public bathroom access based on your biological sex, has certainly put the spotlight on transgender people in the United States. Medicaldaily.com estimates that 100 to 500 people in the United States undergo gender reassignment. In Thailand, the Preecha Aestetic Institute, “the pioneer in Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)”, claims that it performed over 5,000 male-to-female (MF) surgeries and 1120 female-to-male (FM) reassignment surgeries between 1980 and 2009. 90% of the patients are westerners. The institute claims a success rate greater than 95% with no complications.
Based on this little information, I think we can safely conclude that the entire transgender community in the United States is perhaps 10,000 people or fewer. With a total population of over 300 million, the transgender community represents approximately 0.003% of the entire population. In this case, I am defining transgender as someone who has undergone SRS. However, transgender is also used as a generic term which includes transsexuals (someone who wishes to be considered as the sex they are not, but has not undergone SRS) and transvestites (someone who wears clothes normally worn by members of the opposite sex). My focus in this article is on the transgender person who has undergone SRS.
The concept of changing your sex through surgery still seems fantastically unbelievable to me. Yet, lo and behold, Youtube provides animated videos which illustrate the surgical procedures in graphic detail.
WARNING: IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE SURGICAL ALTERATION OF MALE AND FEMALE GENITALIA, DO NOT CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS.
Here is the video illustration of the more common MF procedure.
Here is the video illustration of the FM procedure.
The result of SRS is complete anatomical transformation of the patient. Wow! What has medical science accomplished?! But wait! More medical miracles are on the horizon. It may soon be possible for MF transgender people to be able to become pregnant and bear a child (this link is safe as it contains text only).
We find ourselves in the year 2016, therefore, in a society where thousands of people have sought and received all that medical science can offer to the person who believes that the gender of their birth is not their true identity. The genie is out of the bottle. Unless our society breaks down into a totalitarian state which stamps out SRS as an abomination and forces people who want these services into hiding, or worse, murders them, it seems to me that gender reassignment is now and will continue to be a reality for a minority of people in our society.
How then should we treat these people? North Carolina is currently facing economic backlash for passing House Bill 2, which limits the use of multi-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities in schools and public agencies to a single sex, based on the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate. This bill also clearly states that school boards are not prohibited from providing single occupancy bathroom and changing facilities as an accommodation.
In a world which also includes sexual predators, pedophiles and deviants, House Bill 2 seems like an acceptable common sense measure to protect citizens, especially children, by restricting access to bathrooms and changing facilities based on gender. Hence, under this NC law a man is not allowed to put women’s clothes on and go into a bathroom designated for women.
However, the ever vigilant defenders of the oppressed sexual minorities point out that such a law discriminates against transgender people who have undergone SRS. Which bathroom should they use? It seems like a conundrum, but let’s try to analyze the question using common sense.
First, I hope that no one under the age of 21 is undergoing SRS. Anyone who would participate in SRS for a child under 21 would be guilty of child abuse in my opinion. This life-changing surgery should be accessible only to adults.
Second, most male and female bathrooms in the United States have stalls with doors that close. Anyone wishing to use these facilities will have a standard of privacy which is generally accepted in this country. Even male bathrooms with urinals generally provide a privacy wall between urinals to provide sufficient privacy for this biological function.
The final consideration, therefore, is the comfort level of any person in a public bathroom or changing area when another person walks in. Here we can do a simple test using pictures to complete this analysis.
Step 1 is to look at the picture of a transgender woman (birth certificate indicates male). This is a Julia Scotti. She was a contestant on America’s Got Talent in 2016. D
uring her time on the show, she indicated she was born male. Let’s assume now that you do not recognize Julia, but see her walk into the bathroom.
As a woman, how would you feel if Julia walked into the women’s bathroom while you were there?
As a man, how would you feel if Julia walked into the men’s bathroom while you were there?
Step 2 is to look at the picture of a transgender man (birth certificate indicates female). This is a Chas Bono. Her parents are Sonny and Cher Bono. Chas Bono was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Let’s assume now that you do not recognize Chas, but see him walk into the bathroom.
As a woman, how would you feel if Chas walked into the women’s bathroom while you were there?
As a man, how would you feel if Chas walked into the men’s bathroom while you were there?
If Julia and Chas were to follow the NC law regarding the use of public bathrooms by using the facility reserved for the gender on their birth certificate, I believe most people would take notice and become uncomfortable.
On the other hand, if Julia and Chas were to violate the NC law and use the facility reserved for their current gender identity, I believe most people would never notice them.
How then, can this social and legal problem with transgender people and public facilities be resolved?
I propose a simple solution. North Carolina’s House Bill 2 defines biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.” After SRS, the physical condition of being male or female is undeniably altered, but the birth certificate is not. The solution therefore, is the state to recognize a new certificate of gender, issued by a doctor to any patient who has undergone SRS. A certificate of gender would be filed with the state bureau of vital statistics, just as a birth certificate is filed. The NC legislature would then modify House Bill 2 to define biological sex as it is stated on either a certificate of birth or a certificate of gender.
There may be a slippery slope created with the definition and state recognition of a certificate of gender. Would legislators in the future respond to social pressure to define new genders which could be certified, not just male and female? The potential for this exists already, as New York City already allows its citizens to choose one of 31 different genders. I hope that we can keep the keys to the asylum away from the patients. Let genitals determine gender so that there are always only two options.