I hear restrooms in the remodeled Portland Building may be "all-gender."
I'm fine with trans women in the ladies room, but I don't want male colleagues there. What problem is this solving? Was the trans community included in this "solution"? —Pee Shy
There is an exasperatingly persistent belief among people of a certain age—even ones who consider themselves progressive—that the entire gender-identity revolution of the past 20 years is somehow just an amazingly elaborate plot to sneak into the girls' locker room.
I recently had someone on a Reed College alumni message board—not usually a hotbed of socially conservative thought—try to convince me trans activists were out of control by drawing my attention to a statement on the Stonewall website: "If you think trans women aren't real women, you're transphobic."
I suspect some of my readers might be inclined, like my unwoke classmate, to protest this assertion. But before you embarrass yourself, compare a similar statement: "If you think gay men aren't real men, you're homophobic." If that's not self-evident enough for you, try: "If you think black people aren't real people, you're racist."
I contacted the city's Office of Management and Finance, which is overseeing the Portland Building remodel. In a terse reply, officials said the trans community had indeed been consulted (I winced a bit to see the words "trans community" in scare quotes) and that the restrooms were being constructed so they could be gendered later in whatever configuration deemed necessary.
This suggests the deeming has not been finalized, Shy, so you might consider a strongly worded letter. Or, I suppose, you could take your case directly to the media.
It sure seems as though the city is ducking an opportunity to take a stand. Rather than simply acknowledging trans women are women, it is sidestepping the whole controversy by abandoning gendered restrooms altogether.
This strikes me as a bit cowardly, like a public park in the Jim Crow South hoping to split the difference by just not having a swimming pool. Seriously, Portland, this is not a fence that needs straddling. Take the plunge; the water's fine.