Just what Michigan needs now -- a bathroom litmus test!

Much as it tires me to discuss it, some people are insistent on making the transgender issue into another one of those stupid political litmus tests. Candidates for Secretary of State are being asked to take positions on the vital issue whether transgendered individuals should be allowed to have the sex on their drivers licenses changed from M to F or from F to M.

According to this article, the issue was injected into the race by Paul Scott:

Gary Glenn, leader of a Midland-based anti-gay group, believes Lewis' license should still bear an "M" instead of an "F."

The issue could become a political hot potato in this year's campaign to replace Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who is leaving office because of term limits.

The Secretary of State sets the policy that decides when and if a person can change the gender designation on his or her driver's license.

The issue surfaced recently when Paul Scott, a Republican candidate for Secretary of State, announced that one of his top priorities will be to "ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver's license in any circumstance."

That drew objections from the transgender community, which asked why Scott would raise an issue that has been settled since 2005.

"Harm will only come from changing this rule, and this rule is causing no harm at this time," said Lewis.

Lewis argued people whose driver's licenses do not reflect their gender are in danger of being mistreated. In some cases, their treatment needs have been ignored by paramedics or they have been abused by police officers, she said.

Scott, a state representative from Grand Blanc, said he did not intend to provoke controversy. His pledge to deny gender change requests "may have been inartful," he said.

"I just wanted people to know what my position on the issue is," he said. "If I am elected, I will follow Michigan and federal law."

Well, if he did not intend to provoke controversy, he certainly has. He continues to push the issue, and as a matter of fact it came up at a meeting of State Convention Delegates last night. (Scott, by the way, was a leading proponent and sponsor of Michigan's smoking ban.)

While I find the transgender debate annoying (and personally, the idea of such surgery gives me the creeps), I think that if someone is that unhappy with his or her sex as to go through surgery and hormones to become a member of the opposite sex, the state has absolutely no business interfering. Saying "NO" to a bona fide request to change someone's sex on a drivers license strikes me as unreasonably petty and downright mean.

Moreover, what a drivers license says has absolutely nothing to do with "protecting bathrooms." An objection raised last night involved the use of rest rooms by members of the opposite sex, and it was pointed out quite eloquently that if someone looks like a woman, that person is most likely going to use the women's rest room, and if the person looks like a man, the men's room. What do the people who are freaking out want to do? Have bathroom ID checkers at the doors? And even if they did such a ridiculous thing, suppose the bathroom police discover that someone who looks for the world like a woman is actually a man. What then? Do the activists want to force this man who looks like a woman to use the men's room? Precisely what social goal is that supposed to advance? Protecting children? How is a child more protected by seeing someone who looks like a woman using the men's room than a woman's room?

Can anyone explain? I'm all ears.

It strikes me that because transgendered people are going to use public bathrooms, social decorum and common sense should dictate that they use the bathrooms most appropriate to the sex that they resemble. If the state starts insisting that persons born male who look and act like women are stuck with legally remaining men, and persons born female who look and act like men are stuck with remain legally female, the results might be very different than what they had in mind.

To illustrate the nature of the problem, I just Googled "transsexual" and decided to use the first picture that came up.

It's a girl named Kim who used to be a guy named Tim:

KimWhoWasTim.jpg

OK?

So can someone please explain what's "conservative" about wanting her in the men's room?

A hell of a way to run a litmus test.

posted by Eric on 08.27.10 at 03:01 PM










Comments

Can anyone explain? I'm all ears.

I'm all ears, too -- except for my dick, and that's a foot.

dr kill   ·  August 27, 2010 4:13 PM

I can see the possibilities. Kids will see the occasional woman going into the MENS and also the occasional man going into the WOMANS and get ideas.

I can see the long term advantages. Should I live so long.

M. Simon   ·  August 27, 2010 4:37 PM

This issue appropriately falls under practice of medicine. If a doctor is willing to sign off that a person is a man or a woman, then the state should accept that.

Requiring a doctor's signature gets around most hypothetical problems (like a pervy guy wanting to use the women's room).

dusty   ·  August 27, 2010 8:00 PM

oh good grief.

How conservative can it be to campaign that you'll do something while holding an office that is not something that office is allowed to do -- like legislate from the Secretary of State's office?

Donna B.   ·  August 28, 2010 7:03 AM

The fact remains that one's sex cannot be changed. The surgery undergone by transsexuals is cosmetic only. It does not change their reproductive capability, for example. So what other types of cosmetic surgery should result in a change on one's driver's license? For example, should I be able to claim my age is 50 when it's really 65 because I've had some age reduction procedures performed?

I'm neutral on the bathroom issue. Transvestites can also look enough like the opposite sex to not raise eyebrows in the loo.

LHF   ·  August 28, 2010 10:04 AM

Transvestites can also look enough like the opposite sex to not raise eyebrows in the loo.

They should be made to have a set of appropriate clothes with them at all times. So as not to confuse the children.

M. Simon   ·  August 28, 2010 10:45 AM

Is gender reassignment surgery cosmetic surgery? There are intersex states, as well as Gender Identity Disorder. Sex reassignment surgery is performed as a treatment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_reassignment_surgery

It is of course a form of plastic surgery, but whether it is "cosmetic" in the same sense as liposuction or face lifts is at least debatable.

what other types of cosmetic surgery should result in a change on one's driver's license?

Taking into account my reservations about whether sex reassignment surgery is purely "cosmetic," I can think of a few.

I think a change in height (which can be changed by surgery) should result in a height change on one's driver's license.

Likewise, I think that eye color or hair color were changed, like other changes in physical characteristics, these too should also result in a change on one's driver's license.

And if a liposuction procedure resulted in a major difference in weight, that, too, ought to be changed on the license.

Finally, while it isn't cosmetic, if corrective eye surgery resulted in a driver being able to pass the eye test, then the "must wear corrective lenses" license restriction should also be changed.

There are probably other forms of surgery which aren't occurring to me right now, so the above might not be exhaustive.

I don't think sex is analogous to age, because it is not time-related, but determined by a number of biological variables. While they are not common, in-between sex statuses exist in man and in animals. Maleness and femaleness are not necessarily absolutes, and cannot fairly be compared to a fixed point in time.

Sheesh!

Sometimes these comments make me go to more trouble than it would be to write a post.

Well, it could have been worse. (At least you didn't ask me about having a "race change.")

Eric Scheie   ·  August 29, 2010 12:10 PM

gender is not just defined biologically I believe. It is also defined socially. I took a gender studies class before in College and we talked about what makes someone male and female. It is mostly a social construct. I have a friend who is biologically a male but everything about his is female. In Hawaii it is called 'Mahu' and in Samoa is it really common for males to be raised as females.They are called Fa'afafine. You have to go back to the definition of male and female. Some people are born with both gender parts and other crazy things.

Melissa   ·  August 31, 2010 6:42 AM

gender is not just defined biologically I believe. It is also defined socially. I took a gender studies class before in College and we talked about what makes someone male and female. It is mostly a social construct. I have a friend who is biologically a male but everything about his is female. In Hawaii it is called 'Mahu' and in Samoa is it really common for males to be raised as females.They are called Fa'afafine. You have to go back to the definition of male and female. Some people are born with both gender parts and other crazy things.

Melissa   ·  August 31, 2010 6:43 AM

gender is not just defined biologically I believe. It is also defined socially. I took a gender studies class before in College and we talked about what makes someone male and female. It is mostly a social construct. I have a friend who is biologically a male but everything about his is female. In Hawaii it is called 'Mahu' and in Samoa is it really common for males to be raised as females.They are called Fa'afafine. You have to go back to the definition of male and female. Some people are born with both gender parts and other crazy things.

Melissa   ·  August 31, 2010 7:06 AM

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