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Whenever there’s a national story that captures the imagination, news directors all over the country will go to their cub reporters and ask them to find a local angle to the story to make it more relatable to the local viewer, watcher or listener.    How lucky are we?    One of the big controversial stories of the past few weeks started in NC when they passed what’s generally known as the ‘bathroom bill’ and wouldn’t you know it, one of the best examples of transgender bathroom use and the controversy surrounding it is happening right here in Horry County.

If you don’t know the story, a transgender boy (born a girl) was suspended from Socastee High earlier this year for using the boy’s room on campus…as he had for 4+ years since 8th grade.   He was suspended despite the fact that the school district says they adhere to Title 9, which prohibits discrimination, and make accommodations to those who need it, require it or ask for it.    Why exactly he was suspended can’t be released for student privacy reasons.     The Transgender Law Center has gotten involved, along with GLAAD, after the school district announced they wanted to join the group of those wanting to overturn a decision saying such students can use the facilities of their choosing.

People are in an uproar…and I understand it…from both sides.

Now, I’m supposed to be the liberal one.   I’m the one who champions the down-trodden, the under-represented, the oppressed, the disenfranchised.    The one who fights to get equal rights for everyone.     I’ve been raising a stink over the same-sex marriage battle for years, which thankfully is almost over.    To me, most of these battle are simple about equal rights, as guaranteed in the Constitution.    It’s about giving rights to Americans, not taking them away from others.     Giving women the right to vote didn’t take away men’s rights.   Giving same sex couples the ability to marry didn’t take away any hetero rights.    You could argue that Southerners lost their property when the slaves were freed, but I’ll pretend you didn’t go there. Giving rights to someone else doesn’t affect the faction that’s opposed to it except that they get mad when they lose.     

But it’s a little different in this fight.    Transgenders are asking for equal rights, but by allowing someone to go into the restroom that fits their gender identity, they would be going into a restroom that could be filled with people that have much different genitalia, all exposed at the same time.    This is where it gets sticky.   You’re not just giving equal rights (begrudingingly), you’re also in someone’s private space when they’re doing some of the most personal and private things they ever do.   It represents a total paradigm shift in thinking.     BOTH sides in these arguments have to realize it’s not just ‘the other side’ that has to give…there has to be compromise all around, because there is no easy answer. 

Some argue that the number of transgenders in the US is so small, that we should bother with accommodations.    To those people: When does a number get big enough to matter?    The number is estimated to be around 0.5 percent of the population.    That’s a small percentage.    How about if the number was more like 5 percent…still too small to matter?    If you said yes, keep in mind that the percentage of Asians in the US is just more than 5 and Jews under 5.     Would it be okay to limit their rights because their numbers are small?

And to the critics who say it’s not about the transgender rights, it’s about the protection of their wives, daughters, cousins nieces, grandmother’s aunts and such from people who ‘feel like a woman at the moment’ and decide to use the ladies room.     Those people are already infiltrating the ladies rooms to get their kicks and these laws wouldn’t protect them anyway, because they don’t identify as a woman.   The trick about ‘using the most extreme examples to illicit fear in the general population’ has been played to death.     And when I said the voyeurs are already going into women’s room to get their jollies, I should also tell you that transgenders have also already been using the restrooms that match their sexual identity for years, but you haven’t noticed.    They’re just trying to take care of their business as quietly as possible and without bothering anyone else.    

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