I just stumbled across the website for the “Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.” Liberal lawmakers like to create caucuses for minority causes because it gives them an air of urgency. That last letter in “LGBT” is about as minority as it gets, but that doesn’t mean it can’t generate lots of publicity. Transgender discrimination already takes up too much space in the headlines. It is gaining momentum thanks to oppression by liberals and conservatives alike.
This is one of those cases where “don’t ask, don’t tell” makes a lot of sense unless, of course, you want to be front and center.
Gender identity: a minority roars
If all you knew was what you read in the news, you would think that there are a lot more transgendered people than there really are. 700,000 is the number we seem to have settled on. This is the figure used in OSHA’s “Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.”1 The publication highlights what has become an uproar over how gender dysphoric individuals’ bathroom preferences are accommodated or, if you prefer, discriminated against.
Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.2
Is this a description of transgender discrimination or the necessities of workplace bathroom use? Those of us who work in close quarters are used to sharing “gender-neutral” bathrooms with men and women. We are adults. Sometimes we have to suck it up and deal with the realities of restroom use on the job with all of its potential unpleasantness, olfactory and otherwise.
What is it about being gender dysphoric that means someone not only deserves special treatment, but is encouraged to charge transgender discrimination when those special needs are not met?
Transgender discrimination: big government steps in
Anyone familiar with manufacturing knows that OSHA is strict, but as federal agencies go it tends to be pretty level-headed. On the other hand, the EEOC and the Department of Labor are much more agenda-laden. The DOL, in particular, has become just another bureaucratic wing of Obama’s White House good at exploiting causes to drum up business for the government. Alleged transgender discrimination meant resurrecting a liberal favorite, Lyndon Johnson’s equal opportunity order 11246 and using federal contractor regulations to force the issue.3
Citing a study from a national “LGBTQ” pressure group that calls for us to “Queer Our Taxes,”4 the DOL reports that 90% of transgender individuals have been subjected to some type of mistreatment at work such as “invasion of privacy” and “verbal abuse.”5 These are things most of us probably feel we have experienced at one time or another, but we aren’t all Democrats in search of someone, anyone, we can use as a poster child. If we find our emails and internet use are being monitored or our restroom time clocked, we shrug it off.
How is transgender discrimination different?
It is a problem inflamed by politics.
Transgender identity is ripe for politicizing
The drums in Washington are banging loudly to make sure nobody with a sexual or gender identity outside of the mainstream is being discriminated against even though we already have plenty of anti-discrimination laws on the books and the EEOC is actively pursuing transgender discrimination cases.
Did you know that there is a Transgender Day of Remembrance? The White House reminded us, noting:
The Obama Administration remains committed to preventing violence against all people, including all members of the LGBT community.6
“All people” should be the key, but when it comes to special interests that’s not good enough. More is necessary, including the Justice Department’s involvement:
In addition, the Department of Justice has worked with transgender advocacy leaders and law enforcement leaders from around the country to create a cultural competency training module that will be delivered by the Department’s Community Relations Service (CRS).7
With the president and federal agencies including the Labor Department, OSHA, EEOC, and Justice Department on board, we still haven’t done enough for 700,000 members of our population.
How is this possible?
There is no political gain to be had from bringing minorities under the umbrellas of protection against discrimination and oppression that lawmakers have already approved. Transgender discrimination is no different. In fact, it is a better cause than many because it is part, albeit a small part, of the already highly politicized LGBT community. What better minority to empower than one so small we probably wouldn’t notice it at all, except for the lure of special interest politics?
Special interest politics is for conservatives, too
Conservative politics is just as capable as liberal politics of doing stupid, misguided things. The transgender discrimination cause got a big push from lawmakers in North Carolina who passed a law they shouldn’t have. We shouldn’t single out minorities for preferential treatment. We shouldn’t back discriminatory behavior, either.
Why should conservatives have pounced on H.B. 2? It makes us look bad. There is a very wide gap between not passing a non-discrimination law and discouraging this type of law. Conservatives should be up in arms because H.B. 2 is an egregious example of big government intrusion pure and simple.
We have been down this path too many times and never seem to learn our lesson, whether the real reason behind an errant piece of legislation is enforcing government’s view of morality or oppressing with religion. Legislation proposed to defend something when its true purpose is to prohibit something else is wrong. It is the same misuse of our government and legal system that conservatives condemn when it doesn’t suit us. Remember the backlash from the right after Arizona was stomped by liberal interests and the Federal Government because of SB 1070?
There is fault on both sides of the debate. There are certainly things we should be more worried about than discriminating against people most of us would not even notice had they not become a political goldmine. If you want to attract attention and create a problem that requires urgent media attention the smaller and less empowered the cause, the better. What liberal politician could ignore transgender discrimination, a cure for breathing new life into the tired “LGB” part of this special interest moniker?
Beat up and bullied: time fixes most things
The Federal Government is intent on telling us that no one can be harmed, discriminated against, or have their feelings hurt in any way, shape, or form that could conceivably be traced back to something unique about them. States are pushing back from both directions. This is a fundamental shift in how our nation of laws works that took a lot of misguided effort to put in place. Once too many laws are on the books we have too many laws that cause too many problems, including who and how we use restrooms.
My red hair and not very athletic physique was the object of frequent bullying during my school years. Some kids attract that sort of attention. The cure in the 1960s and 1970s was to fight back. If you weren’t unusually large or spent your time studying instead of learning how to fight, at least you knew that time made most bad things go away.
Despite a few broken bones over the years at the hands of my classmates, I survived and moved on. Sending kids to jail over a violent incident in school was something no one would have considered at the time.
There was no political gain to be had from defending redheaded bookworms who couldn’t fight back. Quite the opposite was true. Defending yourself was what mattered. It was your fault if you weren’t up to the task.
If you find that you are part of an abused minority who hasn’t been protected by Washington yet, take heart. Democrats will eventually run short on causes. Your day will come.
UPDATE May 15, 2016:
Once again President Obama caught our Republican-majority Congress with its pants down. While conservative lawmakers scrambled to decide how to stop Trump, a joint Justice and Education Department “Dear Colleague” letter went out to schools on Friday the 13th. The advisory “does not add requirements to applicable law”8 but carried an implied threat if special arrangements are not made to prevent discrimination against transgender students.
What the administration considers a “safe, respectful learning environment”9 doesn’t have a lot to do with life in the real world, but for those who believe government’s job is to shepherd Americans through life this is another welcome step to cement federal control over our schools. It will also potentially slap more costs on taxpayers already struggling to pay for education.
UPDATE February 26, 2017:
Now we have a new order on how school kids will use the restroom. President Trump is being blasted by activists eager get a big liberal foot in the door over a very small minority of the school age population. One would think that boys using girls restrooms and vice versa would single these kids out and create even more problems, but perhaps that’s the point. Liberal activism is about media coverage, not fixing problems.
How close are we to using public money to require four bathrooms in every school: 1 for boys, 1 for girls, 1 for transgender boys, and 1 for transgender girls? One Democratic president and Congress.