Miriam Ben-Shalom

Wednesday, Miriam Ben-Shalom writes: Trans Bathrooms Are All About Discrimination—Against Women And Children. The subtitle reads:

The current law regarding bathrooms in Massachusetts, which allows transgender people to use opposite-sex private facilities, is a matter of unspeakable oppression against females.

I admire Miriam Ben-Shalom for her activism for the repeal of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell. As an Army staff sergeant (E-6) she was discharged because she is gay. Ben-Shalom is a Catholic convert to Judaism and lived in Israel for a few years. I do not know what motivates Ben-Shalom when it comes to transgender issues; I am more concerned with the what than the why.

More puzzling is the fact that Ben-Shalom was an Israeli citizen from 1968 to 1970. In those years (and until the mid 1980s) children at a kibbutz shared living space without consideration for sex. Boys and girls took showers together through sixth grade and shared bedrooms through high school. Israelis did not perceive this to be a threat to anyone.

Referring to 1988 when Ben-Shalom was reinstated in the Army:

I have spent every day of my life since that time advocating for the marginalized and oppressed, especially sexual minorities. I’ve organized rallies, shown up and stood up wherever injustice was allowed to flourish. I’ve twice chained myself to the White House fence and engaged in non-violent civil disobedience to protest the ban on LGB people in the military. I’ve risked jail time and criminal charges on behalf of my brothers and sisters in the LGB community.

All that is true and admirable. Until, that is, this:

I believe in and fight for the civil rights of all people. The current law regarding bathrooms in Massachusetts, which allows transgender people to use opposite-sex private facilities, is not a matter of civil rights. It’s a matter of unspeakable oppression against females. Few will be encouraged to consider this reality as the people of Massachusetts gear up to vote to restore privacy rights and common sense this November.

There is no convincing Ben-Shalom that a transgender female is, for all intents and purposes, a female. Gender prevails over chromosomes. Furthermore, I don’t know what Ben-Shalom does in public bathrooms but exposure is not commonplace and, quite obviously, women’s restrooms are not equipped with urinals. Someone who presents as female enters a restroom, heads to a stall, closes the door, does whatever she does, re-clothes and (hopefully) washes her hands. Where exactly is this unspeakable oppression?

Furthermore I do not know the source of Ben-Shalom’s hyperbole. Is she exaggerating as part of advocacy or does she really feel this way?

Mainstream media outlets will continue to frame the issue as one of bigotry, and will shame those with the audacity to say what we all know is true. It’s time to loudly declare that the emperor has no clothes. A person may wear what clothing that person prefers. A person can say that she or he is whatever. Such a person ought to not experience discrimination.

What is true is that gender is an important construct. For most people it is reasonably congruent with natal sex. For a small percentage of people, however, gender competes with natal sex for dominance and gender usually prevails. The emperor is fully clothed. His attire is consistent with the consensus of medical science. Ben-Shalom is also confusing what people wear with gender. Trans women are not transgender because they wear dresses. They are transgender women because it aligns with their gender and gender affirmation is a means of mitigating the effects of gender dysphoria.

But I ought not to be expected to believe that by some magic and lots of surgeries and chemicals that a man can be a woman and a woman a man. I, and all woman and children, should not have to put up with the shenanigans of those who insist that biology is “a social construct” but gender “is innate in a person” when the exact opposite is true.

She is free to believe in unicorns if she so chooses. I have never claimed that biology is a social construct. Who would? Chromosomes are what they are. Gender most certainly is innate. That explains why there is no intervention known to medical science that addresses gender dysphoria. Dismissing gender affirmation as “shenanigans” is just ignorance. Religious conservatives make the very same arguments about gay people. They even claim that pray-away-the-gay somehow proves that sexual orientation is not immutable. They reconstructed the rhetoric to apply to transgender people. It pains me to see a gay woman adapting the same material.

Children should not be experimented upon by infusing them with puberty blockers to keep them from growing up. Children should not be operated upon and have body parts removed because they “feel” they are something other than what they are, should not be subjected to a lifetime of ill health because of Big Pharma’s chemicals.

The above is an expression of profound ignorance. Gender affirmation is not experimental and kids are not lab rats. Clinicians rely on peer-reviewed research which is based on evidence. Ben-Shalom is also not a physician and children are not candidates for gender-affirming surgery. I wish this woman would watch PBS’ Growing Up Trans with an open mind. She won’t and if she did, she won’t (be open). I wonder if she has ever had a discussion with a trans person. If she was willing to listen she might gain some understanding. She won’t do that either. Moreover, it’s not feel. It is a certitude about their gender.

Later on:

It’s not that all males identifying as trans are violent, but that laws currently allow any male who self-identifies as a woman to be admitted into female-only spaces. The rate of violence against women is rising around the world: 272,040 women were raped or sexually assaulted in 2016 in the United States. The rate of assault is rising in other countries as well.

Were any of those women assaulted by a transgender woman? I cannot find a cite to substantiate that. The “any male” BS is straight from a religious hate group. It is untrue. People do not pretend to be transgender to gain access to women’s facilities. It just doesn’t happen.

I am skipping over a large number of arguments that are hard to take seriously. But there is this:

They call for the removal of children from a family where the parents disagree with allowing their child to be “transitioned.” They suggest that women who disagree with trans ideology be used, quite literally, for body parts for males who identify as trans.

The second sentence is an example of the unseriousness of some of her arguments. However, not allowing a kid with gender dysphoria to transition in accordance with the best medical advice available to the parent is a very serious matter. It puts the child’s very life at risk. That is not hyperbole on my part. Research demonstrates that transitioned kids have levels of depression and anxiety that are at or near the general population. Eliminate the stressers and we eliminate the potential for self-harm.

This all has nothing to do with the title or subtitle of Ben-Shalom’s polemic which is supposed to be about the duress suffered by women at the hands of transgender women in bathrooms. She is throwing this in because she feels that it marginalizes transgender people. It is yet another argument straight from a religious right hate group which says similar things about gay people that are just worded differently.

Ben-Shalom concludes with:

What I have written above is about things I have directly seen, read, and experienced, not fantasy or pretend. Do you understand now why this is certainly not just about bathrooms? Do you understand now why this is not about trans humans being discriminated against, but is about something much more horrible and revolting: the chemical sterilization of children, the denial of basic human rights to women and children, and the erasure of women? Do you still wonder why we do not want the law to allow such people in our spaces?

I can virtually guarantee that she has not spoken with a medical specialist in this area. “Erasure of women?” Women comprise about 50% of the population. Transgender people comprise perhaps 0.5% of the population. The math is easy enough. I doubt that erasure of women is remotely possible even if there were a great deal more trans women.

As I said earlier, I do not know what is motivating this woman. What comes across is extreme paranoia to the point of being a phobia. It is an irrational fear of something. Given Ben-Shalom’s contributions it is also very frustrating.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.