Gallons of ink, and volumes of hot air, have been spent in the last few months on the supposed dangers of allowing transgender people in general, and students in particular, to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

A Portland High School senior, however, summed the debate up in four words.

“No one really cares,” Brianna Guptil, 18, told the Portland Press Herald last week, after President Barack Obama issued a federal directive supporting transgender rights.

No one really cares, that is, except those drumming up unwarranted fear of sexual predation, all at the expense of a small, vulnerable population just trying to live their lives.

That’s because, before conservatives, suddenly and hysterically, made transgender bathroom usage an issue, it wasn’t an issue at all.

No, until conservatives began concocting ridiculous scenarios in which the recognition of transgender rights would lead to bathroom assaults, transgender people used bathrooms at schools and in stores and restaurants, for years, without putting anyone in danger or compromising anyone’s privacy. For the most part, no one even noticed.

In all that time, in states like Maine that prohibited discrimination against transgender men and women in public accommodations, bathrooms were not dangerous places.

Transgender people did not expose themselves to children, or otherwise make people uncomfortable. In fact, most transgender men, for instance, look masculine, and would not get a second glance in a men’s room.

And sexual predators did not use the laws as “cover” to gain access to bathrooms where there would be children or members of the opposite sex. In fact, “spying” on people in bathrooms is against the law whatever your sex or gender identity, and regardless of the laws covering bathroom access.

These problems only existed in the minds of people ignorant and uneasy when it comes to gender identity, and unwilling to learn more, and the politicians happy to exploit that fear and unfamiliarity.

They weren’t real when Nicole Maines of Orono fought her fight for equality. They weren’t real when states began living under laws that protected trangender people from discrimination.

And they won’t become real now that Obama issued his directive that public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity (clarifying the stance of his administration, not creating a new law as some of his detractors have claimed).

As the debate clamors on, that’s important to remember — the fear and disgust that some people harbor for transgender men and women have been created and reinforced by an ongoing fiction.

The best we can do is ignore that phony narrative, and continue bending our laws toward justice and tolerance. That’s something worth caring about.


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