Here’s a little test:
What public restroom would you advise these beauty contestants to use? [Take your time, they aren’t right here needing your advice in a hurry, although most of these questions in real-life are rather
Let’s limit this exercise to a few choices:
1. If they go as a group should they use the one labeled MEN or WOMEN or HANDICAPPED? Those are the three available.
2. Should THEY be the ones to choose or should some outside authority decide for them?
3. Does it matter whether or not violence or verbal abuse might result?
There are levels of consideration, aren’t there? But just to make this reasonable, I’ll let you know what I know about these beauties. They are competing in a transgender beauty contest. We do not know many other things about their physical anatomies, their gender orientation, or their presentation on a daily basis. We do not know their names – they use numbers for the contest. We know nothing about them except what they look like at the moment, and where they are.
We hardly ever do know more than that about people we encounter in a restroom.
Here in Thailand if a person looking like that entered a men’s restroom everyone would assume she was trans, originally a boy. If she went into a women’s restroom the assumption would also be she
belonged there. Either way there would be no fuss.
If, for instance, I wandered into a women’s restroom I would probably be gently led to one across the hall. It would be assumed I was confused, because I “present” as a male, a rather old, benign, foreigner – the type likely to be befuddled. On the whole, people use the restroom that conforms to their outward appearance. If one prefers to appear ambiguous, one gets the benefit of the doubt.
Location of the restroom might make a difference. But most schools and malls operate on the principle that you use the restroom you are dressed for. Anyhow you get to decide.
How about that?
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Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.