Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Trump Administration Rolls Back Protections For Transgender Students"

   I continue to be vexed by the theoretical/philosophical incoherence at the center of our public discussions about transgenderism. There's really very little doubt that an incoherent tangle of bad theories is being forced onto the public as fact. The tangle is so incoherent and has such obviously false implications that I'm baffled that it's caught on...well, it's caught on with "progressives," anyway. Ok...actually...sadly...half the time I'm not actually baffled at all. Progressives (let alone the full-blown PC left / "social justice" crowd) have a finely-honed ability to see night as day if that's entailed by their political commitments. The Trump administration has nothing on them when it comes to reality-denial. In fact, progressives and the PC crowd can not only see night as day when politically necessary, they can also convince themselves that anyone who does not see night as day is an ignorant hateful bigot. Honestly, there really is a chilling cultishness on the left anymore.
   As for the more practical questions about restrooms and locker rooms...I'm not sure what to do about all that. My views change now and then, and I can see more room for maneuvering there. I'm generally and currently inclined to think that this is the right decision. At the very least I think we need to have an actual cultural discussion about the real issues here before we change our long-standing, well-functioning and popular system of sex-segregated restrooms and locker rooms. And that discussion won't be very meaningful if it presupposes the incoherent tangle of theories that have dominated the discussion to this point. I tend not to favor laws mandating either segregation or integration at this point. Leaving it up to the states, is, I suppose, a decent compromise...though I think that's basically a blueprint for integration. I don't see that the quasi-religious fervor of the cultural left can be stopped. Once the NCAA is punishing states for being insufficiently progressive, the handwriting is on the wall.
   Here's what the Post reports:
The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration, which is set to go to the nation’s public schools, does not offer any new guidance, instead saying that the earlier directive needed to be withdrawn because it lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges.
The administration said that it would not rely on the prior interpretation of the law in the future.
The departments wrote that the Trump administration wants to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” and said that there must be “due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” Although it offered no clarity or direction to schools that have transgender students, the letter added that “schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”
Honestly, this seems pretty much exactly right to me. The Obama administration's use of Title IX was wrong. Horribly, inexcusably wrong, in fact. And its arguments cannot be sustained. More importantly, we have to stop misusing Title IX in these ways--that is, misusing it to accomplish whatever the progressive cause of the moment happens to be. But equally important is that last part: students have to be protected from discrimination and harassment based on sexual preference etc. [Actually: semi-scratch that. Students need to be protected, to a reasonable degree, from discrimination and harassment. Period. I don't see that the type of discrimination / harassment matters much. And, of course, it is not possible to extirpate every scrap of man's assholery to man. Thinking that it is and that we should is a blueprint for some kind of totalitarianism of niceness or something.]
   Anyway...here's one thing, at least, that the Trump administration seems to have gotten righter than the Obama administration, IMO.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) The "long standing, well-functioning, and popular" system of sex segregated bathrooms has always been much more well-functioning for men than for women. Go to any concert, ball game, or whatever, and there is almost always a long, snaking line for the women and a one deep line for the men. This used to be somewhat justified with the water savings from urinals, but the two flush toilet has pretty much put and end to that practical argument. From an efficiency standpoint, it would make the most sense to have one giant bathroom with nothing but stalls. Even for men, the current regime can get damned silly. Think of all the small restaurants and bars that have two single pot bathrooms marked M and W. How many of life's precious minutes have you wasted listening through the door to some guy grunting and shitting out a whole pot roast while a practically identical bathroom sits empty across the hall?

(2) To the degree that sex segregated bathrooms are popular with women, it's due to their acceptance of the idea that men cannot be expected to control their lust within proximity of women who are getting undressed, at all, for any reason. I suppose this is true of some men. But then those men are going to earn jail eventually, whatever bathroom they use, and, if law and decency can't keep them from harassing or assaulting people they share bathrooms with, they're not going to keep them out of those bathrooms in the first place. Somehow, the right has gotten everyone convinced of this bizarre notion that, as with vampires, once we let a man into a bathroom we are powerless to keep him from doing whatever he likes. Of course, we've been to this movie already in the 70's and 80's, when the notion was that you couldn't let the gays into the men's room. If there was a gay man in a men's room, he was ispo facto perving on everyone around him. Arresting him was justified by his simply being gay and present, beating him up in a bathroom was always self-defense.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(3) To the degree that the system of sex segregated bathrooms is well-functioning, it is well-functioning because it is highly informal. The doors may have be marked M and W, but it is tacitly understood that this approximates "public bathrooms are not for sexual stuff". We don't care about the sex or gender of the people in the bathroom, not really, which is why little boys go to the bathroom with mommy all the time without incident. Until recently, we didn't need a legal definition of Man of Woman for this system to work. Still less did we need a final answer to the nice, recondite question of what sex really is. Transwomen (or, if you really prefer, men taking hormone pills and dressed like women) have been using women's bathrooms for years, and it never caused a problem as long as they obeyed the real rule, which is try not to make other people feel uncomfortable. In the past, if a woman had told the manager that she thought there was a man dressed as a woman in the woman's room, the natural question would have been "Why, did he do something?" Now, with local ordinances attempting to bring definition into it, we have to summon the cops to find out if the person in the bathroom has a penis. To defend against the nonexistent problem of men in skirts with impunity putting mirrors under stall doors, we have twitchy church ladies calling the cops to pat down women who are overdue to pluck their eyebrows. The system has been broken, not because we have subverted the former definition with PoMo bullshit, but because definition was brought into it at all.

(4) Definition only got brought into it by Christian conservative nut bags who knew they could play on men and women's acceptance of the men-cannot-control themselves theory to try to make more general non-discrimination bills read as a threat. The real target here is ordinances which would prevent employers from firing trans (or... etc.) people, renting them apartments, and so forth. Granted that the Obama's use of title IX to mandate creation of campus kangaroo courts was very bad, one of the worse things Obama's administration did. However, this use of title IX was to try to create sex definition for bathroom purposes that, being pretty much vacuous, restored something like the old informal system. A whiff of PoMo to the definition itself is a small price to pay for people being able to pee, especially since battles over enforced pronouns and similar stuff won't be won of lost at this point. Leave-it-up-to-states is disingenuous in the face of a concerted campaign to use bathroom sex panic to allow firing and eviction or trans (or... etc.) people, which I think you would against on Mill-style liberal grounds, whatever you think sex really is.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yo, A:
[1] I'm not sure I see the point of that first point. I why would it matter if it worked somewhat better for one sex than the other? Some differential in such matters is to be expected. To the extent that what you say is relevant, it's really just an argument for building bigger/more women's restrooms than men's...something people argue for already, independently of any transgender issues.

It would make the most sense *in some sense* to have just one big restroom...just like it would make more sense to maybe have open urinal booths in the street. I mean, if everybody can see your junk anyway, why have a separate room at all? That also "makes the most sense" in the same sense that it "makes the most sense" to not have locker rooms at all, but just let people change in the open. If we all see each other's junk anyway, why bother with a separate room? I mean, you could have one for people who wanted it maybe, but open showers and open toilets would be way cheaper. All that stands in our way is all that inefficient modesty... Speaking of which...why do people have to wear clothes on hot days anyway? And why can't we just have sex in the open, like God intended...

Single-toilet restrooms designated M and W do not, as you point out, make much sense. But that, again, has nothing to do with the problem at hand.

So anyway, I think the one substantial point there is the "efficiency" point. But "efficiency" isn't the only consideration. Privacy is a luxury, it's true...but it's a valuable one. And to pretend that nothing is lost by integrating public restrooms is to just be willfully blind.

I'm all for thinking about integrated public restrooms...but let's do it honestly. We should also be up-front about the ideas that push in that direction, and be honest about the other changes such ideas entail.

So much for doing number one...next up: number two!

8:23 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

[2]
As for this point, first, I don't think you're right at all that the only justification is that women fear that men will attack them. Again, it's a matter of privacy and modesty. People just don't want to be peeing in front of everybody in the world. It is less embarrassing to pee and shower in front of only people of your own sex. Ergo, sex-segregated restrooms and locker rooms. This is clearly a much more salient reason than fear of attacks.

I mean, I think that women are right to be skittish about, e.g., undressing and showering in front of men they don't know. But fear of attack is a secondary consideration.

I personally don't even like peeing in front of other dudes all that much. Much less, my students. If you think I'm going to pee in front of my *female* students, you're nuts, dude.

I mean...I'm absolutely willing to discss the justice of sex-segregated facilities of this kind. But, again, it's just not even close to being true that there are no advantages associated with them, and that they're just crazy artifacts with no advantages.

Finally, just because we were wrong about gays, doesn't mean we're wrong about guys. Gays are no threat to guys. Guys are a threat to girls.

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girls and women also need to periodically (pun intended) use the bathroom for purposes not required by boys and men. This can be particularly embarrassing at puberty when it's new. Menstruating girls can benefit from being in female-only loos where they can exchange pads and painkillers as well as get moral support from other girls who've had the same experience. They might be less likely to seek help if boys are nearby.
In some parts of the world, girls miss out on schooling due to lack of toilets and taboos around menstruation.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks for this comment, A. It's crazy that that point's not come up before.

I'm not dead set against sex-integrated public restrooms / locker rooms...but I really don't think that anyone is even trying to articulate the case on the other side.

Probably because everyone has been cowed into silence by fear of being called "transphobic."

If we can't even talk about this issue honestly / openly, I don't see how we can even consider *doing* it.

9:09 AM  

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