Monday, September 14, 2015

Yet another letter the Post-Dispatch will probably not print


Dear Editor,

the controversy over which restroom and locker room the young transgender woman Lila Perry should be allowed to use obscures a larger question, namely why have sexually segregated restrooms and locker rooms at all? This newspaper suggested in an editorial back in March of this year that sex (“Party like it’s 1820”) is exactly like race. If this is truly the case, then just as all decent people would condemn the very notion of segregated restrooms and locker rooms by race, all decent and right-thinking people should be appalled that restrooms and locker rooms are still segregated by sex and work towards a more just integration instead of piddling over just who fits where in this patently unjust system of anachronistic segregation. If race is just like sex, then just as we should work towards a truly colorblind society in which race no longer matters, we should work towards a truly asexual society as well.

Moreover, it is really hard to understand how sexual segregation of restrooms and locker rooms squares with the re-definition of marriage as the union of two people. The premise of such sexual segregation is that women should not undress or do private stuff in the presence of strange men and vice versa, but that in turn makes the heterosexist assumption that women are not attracted to women and men are not attracted to men. The de-sexing of marriage changes all this. Now the notion that sexual difference is the normative determinant of physical attraction no longer holds, and if it no longer holds, then there can be no justification for sexual segregation in public restrooms and locker rooms. In other words, if we are to respect the wishes of heterosexuals not to undress in the presence of members of the opposite sex who are not their spouses or significant others, then the dictates of marriage equality demand that we do exactly the same with gays and lesbians who may have qualms about undressing in front of members of the same sex who are not their spouses or significant others. And that means that we have to get rid of sexually segregated rest rooms and locker rooms and replace them all with individual stalls and dressing cabins.

I do not see how justice demands anything less.

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