I've been thinking a lot about freedom, privacy, and "the bathroom controversy" and was trying to think of a new way of looking at the controversy to see if there is a creative solution to the problem and it dawned on me that the root of the issue is privacy. Respect the privacy of the individual and you have freedom and the rights of everyone is respected.There may very well be competing ideologies that are framing the issue for their own agendas and the consumer of information is caught in the crossfire.
For the record, my ideal society would be one where men and women could use restrooms and public facilities openly, where nudity wasn't something to fear, but something to accept as part of our nature. Penises, vaginas, and breasts oh my! Since we are far, far from such a society, I think we should honor the right of the individual to privacy, whether it be private bathrooms, showers, locker rooms, etc. No one should be force to be publicly nude with anyone. I suffered great distress as a child for having to get naked with others(male, female, didn't matter) and I wish I could've chosen more privacy. As an adult, I'm fine with nudity as long as I am in the presence of other mature adults that can handle it and don't use it as an opportunity for harassment. If you're afraid, then be allowed privacy.
I think there are many different solutions to the problem and one size does not fit all, but I think offering private facilities to anyone that does not want to face ridicule is the best option and best chance at compromise. If you are opposed to sharing the restroom with transgendered, support policies and institutions that allow private facilities as a viable alternative. If people are open enough, there could also be facilities that are open to everyone, regardless, but people shouldn't be forced to use them.
I can't help but think that a lot of this comes from general body modesty, and THAT comes straight out of Genesis and the whole business of Adam & Eve discovering they were naked and covering up. What if that had never happened and body covering was strictly a function of environmental need? Being nude could be as natural as we think clothing is today, and no one would give a second thought about being caught bare-assed ... or being em-bare-assed!
The problem is that such a mindset is in the minority on this planet, and getting people to lose their prudery is a task at least as big as causing the irrelevance of religion.
Like most of our foibles, the notion that a penis or a vagina is somehow "obscene" while a nose or an elbow isn't is 100% made up out of the hatred for the physical world that's the core of religion. (I've always wondered how women's breasts got to be obscene while men's didn't.) Addressing blistering castigation of his masterpiece Ulysses, James Joyce said If my book's not fit to read, then life's not fit to live.
An old college friend relates the tale of a political protest group called The Crazies who back during the era of anti-Viet Nam war activities dramatically interrupted an award dinner for Democratic bigwigs. The interruption took the form of a buxom hippie chick, skyclad as they used to say in Wiccan circles, emerging from the kitchen and prancing through the dining room where the elegant luncheon was taking place, carrying an enormous tray on which was ensconced the severed head of a huge pig. Known liberal actress Shelley Winters stood up, threw her cocktail glass at Sharon, the hippie chick, screaming "Beat her, she's naked!" The logic of this utterance, needless to say, is highly questionable.
I agree with you that offering private facilities is a good option. Unfortunately that is interpreted in the current clime as treating some 'differently' and that seems to be verboten, no matter that it is indeed sensible. The Charlotte Observer, though, in 'defending' the guidelines suggested that women should get used to men in their shower and locker rooms just like we got 'used' to having black people all over.
Sensitivity to nudity varies greatly. For years my wife and I were members of a naturist swim club, where, obviously the showers were mixed gender. So nudity itself is not an issue with us. But I can see this being a big deal for many people.
but what bugs me with this is the very heavy handed approach that the government is taking. It goes beyond simple tolerance of different lifestyles, but we are being told what to believe. We're not just supposed to tolerate or accept their sexual identities, but we are told must actively *believe* it, reminiscent of Orwell's 2+2=5, or the Red Queens ability to believe "six impossible things before breakfast"
People can choose to dress, live or even believe they are the opposite sex (or, increasingly some made up sex). But that does not make it real. Government edict does not make it real. NYC is looking to fine business for not using the 'preferred gender pronoun'. Chicago schools has announced disciplinary action for employees or students who choose not to buy into the delusions of certain individuals. And yes, I find them every bit as delusional as people who believe they are space aliens, or as delusional as people who talk with God.
It would be such a perfect world if only everyone were just like you. Then you wouldn't have to tolerate anyone.
I agree with Loren. The problem does come right out of Genesis and Adam and Eve discovering they were naked and having to cover up. Similar ideas went through all 3 Abrahamic faiths. Use your head a little bit and ask yourself how anyone would discover out of thin air that they were naked and that they should be covered. That idea is about as stupid as instantly deciding that Chinese foot binding was the way to go. A preconceived idea plain and simple. Later in the God Book we find that two men are walking backwards with a covering to cover up the nakedness of their drunken father.
Ignorant things like this have been taught to all of us every day of our lives even in the modern world today. We want to be naked but know we should be covered up. It's the excuse the rapist gives in court. "She was asking for it." Some Muslim men said this just recently after they raped a woman, and they did it because she wasn't "covered."
All of this nonsense is an excuse. Americans today are trying to divert and subvert the issue for religious purposes citing government intrusion, but unisex restrooms and showers have been in Europe now without incident for quite some time.
I think you may have it backwards. Separation of the genders and using clothing and 'modesty' to separate genders is far more widespread (but not universal) across cultures than the Genesis account. Probably the Genesis account sought to explain this (as it did with the cross cultural fear of snakes)*. Psychologists and anthropologists have done considerable research on into the roots of this behavior and the reasons transcend religion. Religion does not always create behaviors, sometimes it takes over existing patterns.
Once at a nudist meetup we encountered another couple whom we had met the week before at an atheist meetup. So it became an inside joke, we were the closet (well not strictly closet) atheists among the nudists and the closet nudists among the atheists. There was no significant crossover between the two groups, indeed there were quite a number of religious people in the nudist group.
*Even some of the moral strictures about sex may have had a basis in the somewhat rational need to limit uncontrolled reproduction