G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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This puts in me in the unfamiliar position. I’ll have to defend an argument made by a group of LGBT feminists.
A person of the chosen name Colleen Francis who was born with and maintains male anatomy but identifies of the female gender has caused a stir at Evergreen State College in Washington. Parents filed complaints against Francis, who served 20 years in the Army, has three children, identifies as polyamorous, participates in the BDSM scene, and wears a low-dose estrogen patch, after their daughters encountered the penis-having Francis in their locker room. Various coaches and facility staff observed Francis, who was reported to be sprawled out, genitals a-dangling, in the sauna of the women’s locker room. It must be mentioned that Francis is sexually attracted to women and on at least one occasion expressed joy at being called a lesbian despite the whole penis thing.
This gets hairy as two regulations clash like tectonic plates in the Asia Pacific. The federally mandated Title IX butts heads with Washington State laws that protect transgendered people from discrimination. Title IX was triggered after the girls were provided the use of a smaller locker room while this situation was being sorted out. Francis was allowed the use of the regular women’s locker room which is seemingly of the same size as the men’s locker room. Francis was given this preference as the state law against trans discrimination was given preference over Title IX.
But here is Jezebel’s take, which comes as no surprise:
Francis, who, after 20 years serving in the army, wears a low-dose estrogen patch, plans not to undergo sex reassignment surgery and says she prefers women, is outraged: “This is not 1959 Alabama. We don’t call police for drinking from the wrong water fountain.” [ed: false equivalency much]
But for the time being, Evergreen’s temporary solution does sort of resemble that [ed: yes, in the same way that gender specific bathrooms i.e. the norm, resemble anti-black water fountains...excuse me while I use your toilet and forget to put the seat back down]: after parents refused to allow their minor daughters to change in front of Francis, the girls’ sports teams were placed in a smaller ancillary locker room space to change and Francis was given the run of the main locker room—which is where Title IX comes in, say some: the old discussion of “male privilege” shuttling female athletics by the wayside.
Are both sides of the situation unfair? Absolutely. To make it worse, this is one of those situations that fundamentalists and right-wingers like to turn political; hell, even the blog coverage feels skewed towards anti-trans. Just look at the headlines.
Funniest part of it all is that apparently the Jezzie writer, Anna Breslaw, initially referred to Francis using a masculine pronoun which boiled the minds of a bunch of Tumblr dweebs who don’t recognize the fact that most people spend almost all of their lives not having to parse gendered pronouns in order to not offend everyone in the world. Also, the person who tinkers with these pronouns forces everyone else in society to conform to their rare and idiosyncratic preferences. Oh, you mean that even though you have a man face and like women and have a penis and fit the pattern of what everyone else calls a man besides that silly wig you’re trotting around in, I need to alter this one word and address you as “her” and “she”?
One would have to suspend common sense to fully accept that Francis isn’t a deranged individual hiding behind gender identity disorder in order to sneak peaks at girls and women. The common sense position is so sensical and even-keeled that it is almost pointless to bring up: you mean all I have to do is say that I’m a woman and I can get into locker rooms full of anatomically correct women?
There is one strong similarity between Francis’ case and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. There is a divide within the transgendered community over the question of integration versus radicalism. Play by the rules provided by social norms or concoct a whole new set of rules? Conform to society or have society conform to us? The main difference is that no white person could get away with just arbitrarily identifying as black.