LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Transgender flap is a ‘question of modesty and privacy’

“The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy” — Benjamin Franklin

We Americans are in a sorry state. Today, both sides in the political spectrum talk past each other, are uninterested in compromise and speak in clichés. It is a more than a sad state of affairs; it is tragic.

The question today is whether students can use self-identification — if they feel more male or female, and then use the bathrooms etc. of their choice, — without any input from their mothers and fathers.

A little story. In Maine, I enjoyed swimming in a local public pool. As I washed afterward, I had the strange feeling I was being watched. After I wiped the soap from my eyes I was astounded to find a little girl, about 6, I would guess, fully clothed intently looking at me. She was holding a teddy, no less.

Apparently her father had brought her into the men’s changing area, and he was at that moment deep in conversation with his buddies at the other end of the locker room. This is not primarily a letter about how old a child of the opposite sex should be when brought into such a facility, or how much control a parent should have over a child in these circumstances, both of which can be discussed at another time. What I experienced was embarrassment — my sense of privacy was violated.

If a standard of self-identification now before the State Board is passes, I fear this will be repeated often in the future. In high schools, the locker rooms, bathrooms and showers are often all connected. Unlike my case where an adult was put in an embarrassing situation, the potential subjects with this change will be vulnerable adolescent and pre-adolescent boys and girls. For them, the experience is potentially more traumatic.

Conservatives predictably howl “parental rights” and see this as another fight against expanding government. This is a good argument, but in this case, is it the primary issue? I would argue instead that it is a question of modesty and privacy.

Perhaps letter writers who support self-identification would not be embarrassed if they found themselves naked and stared at, but are they just as comfortable if their spouse or children were also exposed? In any case, how dare they claim to have the right to put other people’s children in the same predicament?

Liberals suggest that suicide is a possible result of ignoring the right to choose their own sexual identity. By keeping students who identify differently about gender, they can be singled out and embarrassed in a locker room situation, which is admittedly shameful. These are good arguments, but if self-identification passes, I would argue the situation will be potentially worse.

The male student who feels he is really a female will likely not be welcome in the girls’ locker room, nor will the female student who chooses to use the boys’ locker room. In either case, self-identification, if successful, will also result in even more incidents of painful rejection, confrontation, leading perhaps to suicide.

No one wants to endanger or traumatize little boys and girls or violate their modesty. People in the end will chose their own sexual identity, and no one wants to be in any way complicit with adolescent suicide.

Let us not yell clichés at each other, use false analogies from the past, question each others’ motives, or see our fellow Americans who differ with us as heartless enemies. Our children — gay, straight or undecided — are depending on us to act like adults. Let’s put our heads together, as we in our country often did in the past, and see if we can work it out.

Larry Koch

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