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“Not my shower!”

2009 February 10
by Michelle Bennett

Ruth’s post reminded me of a campaign that was going on a while ago in my hometown, Montgomery County, MD a while ago. A conservative group called, “Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government” launched this campaign called, “Not my shower!” in response to a law that was being discussed that would allow transgender people to use the restroom of the gender they identified with. I originally heard about this campaign when I was in high school and my friend told me that people called her house to rouse up support for “Not my shower!” and my first reaction upon hearing about the law being discussed was, “Wow, how scary. Anybody could pretend they’re transgender just to get into a particular restroom and abuse or mistreat the other men or women, or children in the restroom…” Upon reading Ruth’s post, I was reminded of the campaign and googled it just to refresh my memory, when I found the following two articles, reflecting VERY different attitudes towards the law and its reactionary campaign: (

This is a Chicago Tribune article which tells the details of the law, the campaign, and other reactions to transgender issues, by opening with a story of a transgender woman who has endured many injustices relating to her transgender identity)

and THIS:

is an article from a newsletter/blog called “Breakpoint: Changing Lives, Minds, and Communities through Jesus Christ” which offers a conservative view of the law and its issues, and frames it as a threat to our safety and privacy, which, embarrassingly enough, in some capacity harkens back to my initial reactions to the law: 

“And what is to stop non-transgendered men from entering the ladies’ room? Nothing. A child molester or rapist could put on a dress and go right in. So could pornographists. It is an appalling, shocking law. ”

Coming from where I stand now, after having deconstructed and learned about (or touched the tip of the iceberg of) gender identity and its complexities, it comes easily to me to find the latter article appalling and overly-simplistic (as a whole. Admittedly, parts of it sound like my initial fears and reactions). However, this binary addressed in the juxtaposition of these two articles is telling in that it shows that there is a spectrum of reactions, and both ends are founded in some kind of legitimate fear or belief. I won’t say much about the law itself because I still haven’t arrived at any conclusive opinions, and I guess that’s what I’m trying to say: I’m trying my very best to get my head wrapped around all of this, and I believe that defining what I do not believe perhaps brings me closer to locating my true and thoughtful opinion. In the meantime, though, I do enjoy observing the back-and-forth.

P.S. The law was passed.

5 Responses
  1. Anne permalink*
    February 10, 2009

    The BMC Transgender Task Force (which I mentioned in class y’day) avoids the either/or of this debate (oh, those binaries!), in recommending is that all future building renovations on campus include single usage bathrooms in their designs.

  2. Melanie permalink
    February 10, 2009

    Something that comes as shocking to me from this (but certainly not the only thing!) is the implication that the suspected misuse of this law would only be by men attempting to gain entry to the ladies room. The quote you included, Michelle, (“And what is to stop non-transgendered men from entering the ladies’ room? Nothing. A child molester or rapist could put on a dress and go right in. So could pornographists. It is an appalling, shocking law. ”) does not even consider the fact that this happens (and it does!) in men’s rooms as well. They’re not preventing the molestation of male children in the men’s room by other men; they’re not even acknowledging it. This is something that I’ve had many arguments over in years past- the convention that rape is only man-on-woman.

    I’m sure I’ll have many more reactions to this post later on, but that was the very first thing that jumped out at me.

  3. Ruth Goodlaxson permalink
    February 11, 2009

    I remember when this legislation was going through, actually – it was one of the first times I was aware of transgender issues, but because most of my high school friends were activist types, I got a much more positive view of the law.

    It still seems bizarre to me that people use that slippery slope logic in so many situations: the implication that letting trans-women use the women’s bathroom will lead to rapists using the women’s bathroom sounds a lot like the argument that gay rights will lead to pedophilia. I’m not really sure where it comes from.

  4. Solomon Lutze permalink
    February 12, 2009

    I was gonna say, what’s stopping a male conservative senator from propositioning other men in a single-sex airport bathroom with things the way they are? maybe we need a senators-only bathroom? or a republicans-only bathroom? or a people-looking-for-sex-only bathroom? This should probably be addressed.

  5. Ryan permalink
    February 13, 2009


    It’s about fear and control. Check out this article about how some of the most rabid Prop 8 supporters, who wanted to write discrimination into the CA state constitution (and succeeded), didn’t even believe their own rhetoric. From the article:

    The people who crafted Prop 8 don’t just want the freedom to choose which marriages they can recognize. They already had that freedom before Prop 8, and they admit as much in their brief. What they want is to control which marriages anyone can recognize.


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