On Feb. 22, President Trump revoked federal guidelines that allowed transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. This apparently comes largely as a response to the fear that transgender students would use such a privilege to commit crimes in the bathroom, thus making it less safe for others to use these facilities. It seems to me that such a statement infers a categorical judgment against those transgender individuals, effectively making it less safe for them to exist in any place. What set of presuppositions must one have to assume that a person who expresses a different gender identity must be automatically guilty of misconduct?
To understand this phenomenon more clearly, we must unpack the gender norms that interact with this issue. It is inferred and often explicitly stated that the greatest fear is for a transgender female to engage in voyeuristic activity while in the lady’s room. The fear of the transgender male committing a similar action is not as compelling. This reinforces two unfortunate assumptions: that men cannot control themselves sexually and that women are defenseless against the evils of male sexuality. Under this assumption, the man is not capable of achieving a pure relationship with the opposite gender because of some genetic coding buried deep within his being. But how can a man exist in such a restrictive world? Perhaps you have heard the phrase “boys will be boys.” This statement reacts to the previous assumption by saying that although it is unfortunate, men’s behavior is simply indicative of the way they are wired, that they will never change and that you can always count on them being unable to control their baser instincts. Beyond the limitations of this thought as it relates to Christianity (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me), it also creates a troubling norm in society that allows men to live out this fantasy and do whatever they want. This “macho” mindset revokes the ability for one to protest against negative behavior by claiming a biological inability to do so. Meanwhile, as men are given a free pass to sin, the woman remains tightly guarded. It is assumed that she is the treasure of purity and goodness and thus must be closely watched in order to prevent that goodness from being spoiled by the instincts of the man.
The real problem is not transgender students and the alleged risk of bathroom crimes. These students are not receiving legal support for them to use bathrooms that match their identities. And the real problem is that the man issuing the executive order to retract protections for these students is the same one perpetuating these destructive gender norms.