Even skimming Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia yields some real gems.
Justice Samuel Alioto’s dissent is a feast of specious reasoning. I particularly enjoy the old chestnut where he seeks to preserve feminine delicacy from the sight of a dick. Alioto writes:
For women who have been victimized by sexual assault or abuse, the experience of seeing an unclothed person with the anatomy of a male in a confined and sensitive location such as a bathroom or locker room can cause serious psychological harm.
There are many points to be made here. The first, and most critical one, is that the court ruling has nothing to do with where people piss or undress. The court was asked to rule on employment discrimination, which it did. Alioto’s pages of hand-wringing are irrelevant to the court’s ruling.
Alioto lauds himself for having the manly candor to address bathroom functions. Congratulations, sir. I’ve taken a piss in the ladies’ room with a trans woman in the next stall. I didn’t concern myself with how she accomplished the task, because it’s rude and distasteful to inquire into your neighbor’s anatomy. I believe that most people share my sentiments. However, since you insist, I’ll set aside my natural modesty and school you.
It’s encouraging that the rapist on the bench, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, refrained from speculating about the sentiments of rape victims, and any psychological harm they might suffer. His public remarks and documented conduct have not led me to expect such delicacy and forbearance. However, it disgusts me — really angers me almost beyond words — that Justice Alioto attributes certain sensibilities to rape victims, and then uses those to discriminate against transgendered people. I’m reminded of a coworker who prefaced his address to a stubbornly ignorant engineering panel by saying, “First of all, fuck you.” It will be difficult to moderate my language, but I’ll do my best.
- My very dear sir, I have been raped, and have known far too many people who have been raped. People react differently to traumatic experiences. I don’t speak for everyone. However, I will say that for many of us who have been penetrated with cold, deliberate force, the accidental sight of a penis holds few terrors. It’s patronizing and insulting to assume that I’m so easily harmed.
- Naturally, as a real man who revels in the sex he was assigned at birth, you can’t possibly know that women’s bathrooms have stalls. When you’re writing your next opinion about transgender rights, consider whether this fact tends to undermine your argument.
- As a transgender man, I notice that gentlemen such as yourself — I use the word loosely, not trusting myself to select another — feel little solicitude for transgender men who are assaulted as faggots in men’s rooms. If I get beaten up by an angry drunk who thinks I’m a fairy because I sit to pee, will you feel the same chivalrous concern as if I fainted clean away from glimpsing a flaccid dick? No? Oh, right. Her reaction is a natural expression of biological femininity, whereas my very existence is an abomination. We’re both rape victims, but she gets sympathy and I get my ass kicked. Fair enough.
- And how about that “anatomy of a male”? The hard truth about bathrooms is, except for the dick, transgender men look like men. Facial hair, deep voice, masculine fat distribution, muscle mass. By December, I’ll engage to fool even a gender connoisseur like Justice Alioto. So…. you want that guy to take a leak in the company of your imagined flower of femininity? If she starts to feel threatened, I suppose you would have me reassure her by flashing my pussy. And a trans woman — who is in almost all circumstances indistinguishable from a cis-gendered woman — should be forced to use the men’s room? What possible purpose does that serve except to expose her to real and unnecessary risk?
That last is a bit disingenuous coming from me. After all, I’ve shared port-a-johns with Marines and pissed in a bush next to unexploded ordnance. As I said at the outset, most folks are tolerant and sensibly refrain from inquiring closely into their neighbors’ anatomy.
The dirty truth about Alioto’s bathroom argument is that trans men and trans women run real risks of discrimination and violence, no matter which bathroom they pick. Alioto’s tactic is a cynical, divisive attempt to pit women against each other. If he truly cared about people’s safety and dignity, he would trouble himself with a few easily acquired facts.