School board member really doesn’t want boys in the girls’ restroom.

I understand her concerns, but there have to be other, more constructive ways of engaging in this conversation (Warning: the article includes mildly vulgar quotes):

A member of a rural Colorado school board isn’t backing down from her comments at a recent meeting suggesting that transgendered boys should be castrated if they want to use the girls’ restroom.

“I’m taking a stand,” Delta School District 50J board member Kathy Svenson is reported as saying by the Denver Post. “It will not happen here without a change in plumbing.”

Svenson allegedly would be open to a “third” bathroom for transgender students — although one might easily argue that at least four bathrooms would be needed.

I’d like to think that we can all agree that there’s not really a simple choice between making eunuchs on the one hand, and imposing a binary (or trinary) structure onto what may very well be a finely-graded, scalar reality on the other.

But maybe we can’t all agree.


  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Why not have a few ‘individual washrooms’ (Like family restrooms) for transgendered students and students with embarrassing medical problems. I mean, the kid with the colostomy bag might appreciate a private area to deal with her physical needs too!

    Solves the whole problem without inconveniencing anyone.

    • Crimson Wife says:

      Having an individual “special needs” bathroom would indeed solve the issue.

      • As the article indicates he comment was inspired by the Coy Matthews case and a state civil rights ruling that expressly held that special bathrooms of the type you describe would not be an adequate solution. It’s inherently unequal, and such special restrooms are not at all likely to be easily accessible by students – they’ll be too few in number, and too far removed from many classrooms.

        I take issue with various parts of the Civil Rights Division’s ruling, but I don’t think that your proposed solution is workable in existing school buildings, or practical in newly constructed schools.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      Solving the problem in a sane way doesn’t allow for lots of posturing.


      Alternately, we could tell the boys to use the boys restroom no matter how they felt about it. It is only because this country is wealthy that we can spend resources on stuff like this …

  2. Instead of labelling the bathrooms with icons indicating clothing, label them with genitalia.  Problem solved.

    • What about cases where a student’s physical appearance and DNA tell two different stories? Or where a student has ambiguous genitalia. The Civil Rights Division considered such possibilities when rejecting a “boy parts”/”girl parts” system of assigning kids to restrooms. Whether or not you agree that a child whose DNA and physical appearance are consistent with a “parts-based” assignment to a restroom, the Civil Rights Division made a fair argument in noting that some children use one restroom or the other based on subjective gender identity and felt that transsexual children should not be treated differently.

  3. Too bad this site is now peddling the tiresome “enlightment” of the ideologues.

    The shift from sex, which is biological, to gender, which is socially constructed is important to the ideological program. But there’s not likely to be much dialogue about that–dialogue isn’t the style needed to effect the Revolution.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Mr. Umphrey. What “shift” are you talking about? What is it that is supposed to have shifted?

      What it means to, say, “be a man” has, historically, varied tremendously from culture to culture. A Roman man and a Medieval man faced very different expectations as to how they would fulfill their society’s sexual roles. Heck, there’s even variation within those particular societies. There has been “gender” in the sense that theorists now use it for centuries — probably millennia. It’s hardly a new thing, although maybe the fact that it’s openly discussed and seen as something “on the table” in the negotiation of personal identity is something new (at least in a sense).

      And just so that we’re clear, biological sex isn’t as neat-and-tidily binary as most people want to think, either. There are people — real people with real experiences and feelings — born every day for whom it’s not immediately obvious which of the two bathroom choices they’ll be using.

      The questions being addressed in these sorts of debates are questions of what steps society must take in order to create the possibility of meaningful roles for people, and whether there are obligations that we have to create social room for people who might not fit neatly within our pre-existing schema. How much accommodation should be made? That strikes me as a sensible question to ask, and the sort of question that *requires* dialogue.

      Keep in mind that I’m not actually advancing a position here. In this post, I’m merely pointing out that suggesting castration over making one type of allowance isn’t necessarily the most productive use of rhetoric.

  4. While individual special-needs (of whatever type) bathrooms make sense, I’m not sure those making an issue about transgendered kids’ need to choose what bathroom they’ll use will accept this. Like so many other “causes” (“of color”, LGBT etc), it’s not about reason or common sense; it’s about forcing their issue down everyone’s throats. Acceptance is not good enough; they want to be celebrated and their cause promoted.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      My child should have the right to use the same filthy bathroom as the other children instead of getting to use the cleaner, more private special needs one!

  5. When a new baby is born, it’s quite rare not to be able to determine when it is a male or female. In those cases, we have something we need to think about and talk about.

    Do you really believe that’s what the conversation about allowing kids to determine their “sexual identity” and to use whichever restroom or dressing room they choose is about?

    Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the writings of the radical feminists? Maybe you think their goal is equal pay for women.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      You bring up a good point. The situation in your first paragraph exists, and we need to come up with reasonable, decent ways of dealing with it.

      We can’t allow radical feminists, who have a different agenda, to be the only ones talking about it or seeming to care about the people who it affects. Otherwise, they will drift towards the radicals, an outcome I’m sure you don’t want.

    • Why do you believe that this discussion is either driven by “radical feminists” or that those you regard as “radical feminists” are even relevant to the discussion?

      • Because I’m familiar with the debate.

        This is the latest battle in the sexual revolution. Those who make this issue their cause are quite unhappy with that common world where most people find their meaning and even their happiness in the various roles of father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister.

        They feel the little girl who simply wants the right to use a bathroom where there are no little boys must pay the price of progress toward a telos they fervently desire. She can be ignored. She must sacrifice her old-fashioned modesty. We must champion the child who is confused and uncertain about gender. That confusion must be spread and strengthened–it holds the key to our transformative future.

        Traditional morality is the real oppression–far more pervasive than the little class thing Marx discerned. And sex is the most potent arena for the destruction of the old ways, in which they find no joy.

        If we can dissolve sexual morality, Christianity and capitalism will also fall. Liberation!

  6. This is going to get more and more complicated over time. I have a friend of 25 years who became a woman at about age 30. She’s a nice person and not at all one to make a big deal about her change. We have lunch and catch up once a year or so.

    However, she’s now a competitive marathon runner. She runs in races all over the country and is now starting to win her gender and age group. I’ve never said anything (and I’m not sure what she’s doing is actually wrong), but it’s not really fair to the biological women. Nothing anyone can do I guess, but if she gets outed at some point, I fear there will be unpleasantness. Creating a special category for the transgendered would open up a frightful can of worms. It seems to me that you can’t have it both ways: if you’re going to have sex-based categories, then gender shouldn’t count. If you’re going to haver gender-based categories, then a pre-operative male should be able to compete with women (and vice-versa).

    Michael Umphrey is right, I think. Once we switched from sex to gender, a LOT of social norms were thrown out the window and we will be decades picking up the pieces and putting them back together.

    • The NCAA has articulated policies for when transgendered athletes can compete without the team being deemed “mixed” (and thus ineligible for women-only competition). The Olympics has policies for when genetically XY athletes, some of whom are not aware that they weren’t genetically women until they are tested, can compete in women’s events.

      Sport issues are, I think, much simpler than that of bathroom assignments for six-year-old kids who, for reasons that are not as clear as some might assert, self-identifies as a member of the biologically opposite sex.

      • There have been a great many conspiracies and many are ongoing–they go back at least as far as the Parisian cafes before the Revolution. Anyone who know many people knows that they conspire–and we have the memos and the minutes of the meetings. But I think the more interesting question is what is driving the Zeitgeist; what is giving rise to them?