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I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Look at the Recent Macys Incident: Liberty and Justice for All?

There is significant controversy in recent news directed at transgender individuals regarding the recent dressing room incident at Macys. The subject became active immediately after it was learned that a female employee of Macy's Department Store was immediately terminated from her job by management for NOT allowing a transgender woman to utilize the dressing room associated with the gender she was presenting as. It is a store policy, by Macy's, to allow those who present in their chosen gender, to utilize the dressing room of their chosen gender.

This policy has enraged numerous individuals and groups, many of who have been voicing their deep disdain for transgender individuals using facilities concurrent with the gender they are congruent with and presenting as. The primary arguments involve fears that men who dress as women, are likely to engage in sexual predation or other voyeuristic and perverted acts. The solution, by these individuals and groups, is to create a third dressing room... not for men, not for women.... but for those who are transgender or as I have heard mentioned by more than a few, “mixed-up”.

They maintain that a man is a man (genetically xy) and a woman is a woman (genetically xx) based solely upon what physical plumbing they were born with. The view is strictly binary, and there is no provision for anyone who is born with physical and chromosomal variances which cause intersex and and hermaproditic conditions. Although there is substantive medical evidence arising at this juncture which can tangibly equate much of how the brain develops in either a male or female pattern, this evidence is largely disputed and ignored en masse.

The bottom line comes down, however, to an even more basic level than this and precludes even trying to argue the transgender position from a medical basis. At the very core, what this all boils down to is a human rights and a civil rights issue. One may disagree with this, but, please allow me to continue.

There was a time, in this country's history, where events occurred which bore similar nature to what we see now. Can we think of a time, in our country's history, where a certain group of people were excluded from the same basic human rights that others enjoyed? One can see where I am going with this and it may be that the reader may feel that the analogy beginning to be drawn is far different in scope and not applicable... but it is. Allow me to continue.

There was a time in this country's history where those who were African American were relegated to their own separated space. African American children rode in different buses to different schools than those frequented by Caucasians. Restaurants, movie theatres and numerous other public venues created spaces specifically for the exclusive use by “those of color”. If one has not seen the movie, “The Help”, please see it. It is the story of the oppression of African American housekeepers by their Caucasion Employers. In one scene, a housekeeper was fired ON THE SPOT for using the same bathroom her family used and for not using the outhouse in the backyard. The thoughts here being that one could contract unique diseases from someone of color.

In a similar way, the proposition that those who are transgender should be relegated to a distinctly separate bathroom for their kind is hauntingly similar.

The argument would say, that there is no comparative to be drawn, for they would say that there are just men who were born physically male, and there are women who are born physically female. This is where their premise fails. Ignorance and fear engenders walls that serve to separate. We know that African Americans do not plague us with diseases we can contract simply because they are of color. It is ludicrous to even think it but at one point in this country's history, such fears existed. Similarly, transgender women and men are not perverts or sexual deviants any more than the general populace is. In any stance, it will be obvious who is the man in the dress seeking to gain free entry into the women's dressing area for such acts. They will not be the person who spent years and decades of their life trying to learn makeup and fashion techniques appropriate to the gender they feel inside only to try to have sex or other lewd acts in some dressing room.

It is ostracizing to postulate that all transgender individuals are predatory deviants, for they are no more likely than someone who is gay or lesbian or heterosexual or congruent in their own gender presentation to engage in the same. It is demeaning and bigoted to force them into a bathroom segregated to their own kind because of an unfounded and unsubstantiated fear that criminalizes transgender individuals as guilty before innocent. So long as the person presents in their chosen gender respectfully and is respectful themselves to maintain civility toward their fellow humans, then there should be no problem and that person should command the same respect as a civil human in return.

Fear and not reason are what dictate the masses. Education of what is rather than what imagines is the only tool to eradicate such erroneous predilections.

If we allow governing authorities of the masses to determine the liberties and freedoms of the minorities, then what liberties do really any of us have in this country if we have no say?

On February 19th 1942 Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Under the terms of the Order, some 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the US were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps. The US justified their action by claiming that there was a danger of those of Japanese descent spying for the Japanese. However more than two thirds of those interned were American citizens and half of them were children. None had ever shown disloyalty to the nation. In some cases family members were separated and put in different camps. During the entire war only ten people were convicted of spying for Japan and these were all Caucasian. (1) ( http://www.historyonthenet.com/WW2/japan_internment_camps.htm )

How quickly we often forget how fear can justify the rescinding of the basic tenets, civil liberties and rights of those who are deemed by the majority to be unacceptable to society.

Similarly, the Native Americans were rounded up and moved to their internment camps, otherwise known as “reservations” in order to allow for this country's progress to stampede forward, uninterrupted by who were considered to be primitive tribe-like people.

Women were denied rights to vote, to work, to wear masculine looking clothes; liberties now correctly extended as they should be to all.

Self determination and self appointment by a person, organization or the majority leaders in a country, that their own views are omnipotently and universally the correct ones for all to follow is a headstrong and dangerous position to take and suggests a rule that borders on totalitarianism To disguise such a position and acts thus taken to oppose or repress others through the guise that it is God's word, is blasphemy at the very core. Let me explain....

There is more than one religion in this world. Each religion has their own beliefs and each decries to be the one TRUE religion. If this were truly the case, then we would not have Buddhists, and Christians and Moslims and Hinduists and on and on.... If this were truly the case, then there would be but ONE religion seen as ONE religion in the eyes of ALL. Obviously they each have their points and each their own professions but there is not one correct one. To suggest such, again, is blasphemy.

Many of the Conservative Christian Sites I have had the opportunity to engage with, claim that those who are transgender are perverted in the eyes of God. I have seen scriptures wielded against those who are transgender in the old testament against, and I have seen specific passages of scripture in the New Testament of acceptance of all by Jesus. It would be the subject of another essay to uphold the findings made as they would not be justly served in so short of an essay. In all of this, interpretation and context are key, and much is taken out of context in order to suit or benefit the needs of the religious organization wielding words.

When those who wield religion as a power, become entrenched within our political and justice system, we see how such derisive wedges can thusly be created to mold and design paths to exclude others who do not agree with the consenus's drawn in the name of God. The realm of politics is secular by design and should not make or lay claim to what is considered moral or just in the eyes of God. Laws created and based upon religious moral principles which preclude the freedoms of others denies those persons their own basic rights and needs as free citizens of this country.

It is of distinct note that Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States Constitution, made the following observations in regards to the matters of Church and State:

Thomas Jefferson was a man of deep religious conviction — his conviction was that religion was a very personal matter, one which the government had no business getting involved in. He was vilified by his political opponents for his role in the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and for his criticism of such biblical events as the Great Flood and the theological age of the Earth. As president, he discontinued the practice started by his predecessors George Washington and John Adams of proclaiming days of fasting and thanksgiving. He was a staunch believer in the separation of church and state. (2) ( http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html )

Thomas Jefferson, however, was not even close to being the originator of such thoughts. In centuries past, a fellow by the name of Martin Luther, the founder of modern Lutheranism, wrote a treatise proposing the same in the early 1500's. His book, entitled, “On Secular Authority” set forth the following premise:

According to Luther, the civil government’s role is simply to keep outward peace in society. The civil government has no business enforcing spiritual laws. “The laws of worldly government extend no farther than to life and property and what is external upon earth,” Luther insisted. (3) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_the_two_kingdoms )


The arguments which are demonstrated by those who would marginalize the transgender population often take on a religious omnipotence of a God who would decry such acts. Such realms make attempt to gain power and prowess to wield their religious authority by weaving it into secular authority. Our rights as transgender individuals are diminished because of an imposed segregation and prejudice by the masses.

It's time to review what mistakes we have made as a country and what rights we have revoked and persons marginalized in times past. It is time to decide to take a stand to decry that such ostracization of others based upon race, creed, religion, sexual preference or gender will not be tolerated. As the words of the pledge of allegiance attest, this country was founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, not for some. It's time we consider that we uphold the pledge we as citizens of the United States have taken. It is time for liberty and justice for all!

Addendum:  Additional information regarding the religious positions held by five of our founding fathers, please see:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/153727/5_founding_fathers_whose_skepticism_about_christianity_would_make_them_unelectable_today?page=1