A friend had sent me a message that Bill O'Reilly had a segment on his Fox News opinion show about something to do with transgender. She didn't mention what it was but wanted to let me know. I think she watched it, but I was engaged in something REALLY important at the time, watching my beloved Crimson Tide whip the stuffing out of Auburn in basketball. There are few things in the sporting world that give me such pleasure as Alabama whuppin' up on Auburn in any athletic endeavor, so I taped it and put it on the back burner. The airing date was on 2/26/2013.
I usually find a lot of common ground with Mr. O'Reilly. I did have some serious problems with what I initially interpreted to be a condescending tone in his voice towards people who are transgendered, but later changed my mind and decided his tone was directed towards the Department of Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or whatever the governing agency that oversees education there is called. I think he is actually sympathetic towards adults who are transsexuals, but not necessarily "transgendered" which tends to be a catch all phrase for people with various gender identities that may or may not be congruent with their somatic sex.
His guests who were debating the Commonwealth's policy with the broad category of students were Alan Colmes, a frequent Fox News contributor who represents liberal points of view and Monica Crowley, who is also a frequent Fox News political commentator and represents conservative points of view. In my opinion, Mr. O'Reilly could have found much better people who were imminently more qualified to comment on this topic who might share different points of view. Ummm, perhaps my good friend Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of National Center for Transgender Equality (who I respect and admire and who is doing extremely important work, though we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum) and myself, for instance.
The following topics were introduced; cross gender competition in sports;
the ever controversial bathroom and locker room issue; and parental rights to notification that the school system is assisting students not of the age of majority to pursue living a cross gender life that is congruent with their identity without the knowledge of the parents.
It seems to me that these students, most likely have not had the benefit of being hormonally reassigned. It is by simple declaration of an adolescent or child, for that matter, that the government of Massachusetts' educational system, will allow students to compete in sports that are designated men's or women's sports, as well as allow them to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for cisgendered individuals.
There are several problems that I see with this policy. First, if male bodied athletes are allowed to compete in cis women's sports, and have not been hormonally reassigned, they have a significant advantage over ciswomen physically in most cases and this has a negative impact on women's ability to have opportunities to compete in sports that schools offers given the limited number of roster spots on scholastic teams. There exists a possible conflict with Title IX which was enacted to give women equal access to sports in schools, as men traditionally have had. That would result in uncounted rounds of legal battles to resolve these issues, likely to ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.
If a male bodied student has been hormonally reassigned, this levels the playing field and I believe they should be allowed to compete in their identified gender identity because generally they are at a physical disadvantage compared to cis males and if they can make the team it would clearly be by their athletic talents and skills. For the female to male identified student, competing in men's sports is not such a disadvantage to cis males
The bathroom and locker room issue has always been controversial. My opinion is that there should be separate facilities available for rest room and locker room needs for students who have not been hormonally and surgically reassigned. I think this is just a matter of respect towards cisgender people, just as they should respect us. I think the IN-Your- Face attitude of people whose somatic gender is not congruent with their gender identity creates more ill will towards us than helps us advance our rights as members of a democratic society. What good comes of making the vast majority of people uncomfortable in the name of insisting we be treated the same, though in fact when we have not had surgical reassignment we are not the same? To me it is a simple matter of courtesy and respect, just as I expect to be treated with respect.
For those who are undergoing hormonal reassignment and live full time in our true gender identity, the restroom issue is moot. We should and do use the appropriate gendered restroom. More and more states are issuing legal identification with the proper gender marker to our identity and in those situations, there is no question about which restroom is appropriate to use.
To me, though, the most important problem is the systematic violation of parental rights by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth's position is that simply by the student declaring he or she is transgendered and does not wish his or her parents to know, will facilitate the student's gender transition at school. While if there is a real threat of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or neglect, a child should be removed from the parent's home. To simply bypass the parents and facilitate this cross gender life at school only without any proof of abuse or neglect, in my opinion, is extremely harmful to the family unit and is a prescription to ensure long term alienation of family relationships.
Mr. Colmes argued that extensive evaluations and documentation must be conducted or provided for the school to be allowed to intervene this way, but Dr. Crowly argued, and I believed correctly, how will these extensive evaluations be conducted without the parent's knowledge? It seems to me that it is highly unlikely that that could occur and I think this governmental interference in family life in both the short run and long run, does much to hurt the individual and the individual's family, and is a set back in normalizing acceptance of transsexual people in our culture. I think that this removes the opportunity to provide services to the family to help the entire family unit to adjust and make positive changes so that the transsexual individual may preserve family relationships, not permanently alienate them from their families. The role of the government should be to strengthen families, not to destroy them.