On Wednesday, November 16th, the General Court of Massachusetts passed a bill that will extend the gay and lesbian rights to crossdressers and transgender people. The Bill H.502 which you can find here pushes the legislature away from regarding sex as legally fixed and more towards a concept of gender identity which is ultimately chosen and determined (expressed) by you as an individual.A typical example is replacing the word sex with gender identity or expression or the word women with people of diverse gender identities or expressions.
One notable amendment is to grant persons admission to otherwise lawfully sex-segregated facilities, accommodations, resorts and amusements that are consistent with their gender identity or expression provided this doesn’t conflict with provisions of section 92A, chapter 272 or any other special or general law. In short, you will be able to use the women’s bathroom or female gyms if you identify your gender as female. This particular amendment is probably the main reason for so much criticism from conservative organizations and homophobes (more on that further down).
On the whole it’s a good thing of course. I don’t know how well it will work in practice because many examples of discrimination are difficult if not impossible to prove. If for example, you get turned down for a job because you’re a man wearing a skirt, they can often deny that that is the reason and simply say something like “the applicant lacked communication skills” as an excuse. Even if it’s obvious they’re lying, to have a case in court means you need evidence.
On the one hand, I belong to the camp that considers sex a biologically fixed feature. You’re either male or female. The only time that ever changes is if you go through surgical reassignment but this is often only partially successful and virtually irreversible (in case it’s male to female at least). Even if everything goes as well as possible, you still won’t know what it’s like to grow up and live all your life as the opposite sex.But this is only the biological viewpoint. As far as how you identify yourself is concerned or how you are registered legally as a citizen, I believe having a choice in the matter is part of living in a free democracy. Sure, we can’t choose our sex anymore than we can choose our skin color and that means there should be no legal or institutional implications in being a biological male or female. The only place where this should make a difference is when it comes to reproduction because the circumstances are so very different between males and females. But as far as anything else goes, the law and the government have absolutely no business telling you anything based on your chromosomes.And this is where gender expression or gender identity comes in - the idea is that people can view themselves as men or women or both or neither or any other combination of the two. Actually I think it’s stupid but that is something for another article. In the context of law and society however, this concept serves as a replacement for the concept of biological sexes. And for that purpose, gender identity as something any of us can choose for ourselves, is quite suitable. Essentially, gender expression serves a pragmatic purpose. Because we can’t just ignore or cross out male/female from one day to the next so, instead, we find a workable alternative that smooths the path towards a society in which gender roles are a private choice.
One of my issues with this bill is the way in which crossdressers are ‘kindly included’ into the protection that was reserved for homosexuals and women. Or perhaps it’s more the implications of that labeling since the whole point is supposed to be that clothes shouldn’t matter. But as soon as we call them crossdressers in the law, their clothes become a big deal that requires special attention. My regular readers will already know my next objection: A special word ‘crossdresser’ is needed for men but apparently not for women. I’ve written elsewhere how women can’t crossdress but that was in the context of fashion and society. Here we’re talking about legislation. If they really want to include crossdressers or transgender people then why write that in the bill when they could have just written something like “persons cannot be discriminated against based on the femininity or masculinity in their appearance or manner”? I’m not a legal expert and never will be but that would seem to me like it covers the whole spectrum more fairly without resorting to possibly sexist labels like crossdresser or transgender person. If any of you have an opinion on this, and I hope you do, then please share it with us.
This is the usual drivel and homophobic nonsense that you get from frightened little sheep. Here are some of the most common:
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