Anti-discrimination 'bathroom bill' wrong way to advance a good cause
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Althea didn't seem to us a viable candidate for state representative in the city of Boston; her minority status was a lot to overcome.

Not the part where she was black, or transgendered; the part where she was a Republican. We had never met a Republican Boston state representative.

Still, she was right on the tax issues, had a great personality, and an excellent ré©sumé©, if one is impressed by a stack of degrees from Suffolk University, Lesley College and Harvard University, or her connections to the Uphams Corner Health Center. But she's the vice chair of the Ward 13 Boston Republican Ward Committee? How does a candidate get past that to the Statehouse?

Citizens for Limited Taxation's Political Action Committee endorsed her in 1992, and to our astonishment, she won! The next time I saw her, we were both fussing with our hair in the ladies' room of some Boston hotel where I was the guest speaker for a Republican women's group. I don't think the other women in the room knew that Althea had once been Al; it hadn't become an issue in the campaign.

I didn't know, myself, until after she left the PAC interview, and its director, Chip Faulkner, asked me if I'd noticed Al's unusual height, large hands and feet. I'm pretty tall myself, so actually I didn't; what I noticed was that she was stunningly dressed, which made her really different from me.

I thought of Althea when I learned about the so-called "bathroom bill," which would let transgender people use the public bathroom of their gender choice.

I couldn't imagine her powdering her nose in the hotel men's room, dressed in her polka-dot cocktail dress and high heels.

The bill's real name is "An act relative to gender-based discrimination and hate crimes." It adds transgender people to the list of minorities who can't be discriminated against in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations, and gives them protection under the state's hate-crime laws.

Some conservatives charge it would give male sexual predators the ability to access public ladies rooms for the purpose of preying on women and children. I think this focus is silly.

I use the phrase "the bathroom bill" only because it became an issue under that name during the Republican convention when Charlie Baker came out against it, even though his running mate, Sen. Richard Tisei, is a sponsor. Delegates to the convention who prefer a more socially conservative lieutenant governor candidate made a fuss about this; it somehow got caught up in their anti-gay thing.

In fact, it's the opposite of a gay issue, though transgenders often hang out with gay activist groups because they share the discrimination thing.

Not pretending to be an expert on all this, but I don't think transgenders are gay. As I understand it, they are people who have a birth defect — a body that is a different sex than the brain, heart, and soul say it is.

They are attracted not to the same sex, like gays, but to the opposite sex from what they really are, once you get past the physical thing. (How am I doing with the explanation thing ?)

As for bad guys preying on women and children in public bathrooms, this can happen now, which is why most parents don't let their kids go in alone. If someone acts out in one, he should, of course, be arrested.

In fairness to its opponents, the bill is very vague in its definition of transgender, allowing almost anyone to go in any bathroom. I can see the problem here, though somehow this reminds me of the unisex bathroom at my son's UMass dorm that was a new concept 25 years ago. I was horrified, imagining this middle-aged mother rushing into a stall while, elsewhere in the tiled room, girls wearing only shower caps were prancing around near men who were trying to use the urinals.

I can't tell you if it's really like that; I always stopped at a gas station on my way into Amherst. However, I didn't mind the unisex bathroom of my first husband's family, with four adults and five kids using the same toilet, albeit with a lock on the door.

Regardless, the bill should at least be clearly defined to include only those who are in the actual process of transgendering. But rather than add transgenders to the existing "act relative to gender-based discrimination and hate crimes," the whole concept should be repealed.

Government shouldn't be allowed to discriminate with public dollars, but adults acting on their own should have a legal right to "discriminate" against anyone they want.

Government exists primarily to prevent violence against its citizens, either by professional criminals or just hateful people. But laws have been passed making it worse to be violent toward certain groups. It's now a crime to hate.

Motive for violence shouldn't matter, being covered by constitutionally protected "free speech," not to mention "free thought." Modern-day political correctness shouldn't trump the Constitution.

We should treat minorities fairly just because it's fair. We should try not to hate for our own good.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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