Dear Professor Haslam,
The now “international” (seeing that you are in Melbourne, Australia) kerfuffle over bathrooms and transgender people, and users of restrooms in general, has kept me fully amused.
I grew up in rural Maryland farm country on a small farm. In middle school (then known as ‘junior high’), we showered after gym class. We were naked. (Screams of disbelief.) In high school, athletes showered after the game. (Clothes were not permitted in the shower.)
In my Military service, during boot camp somewhere between 40 to 60 of us shit, showered, shaved and peed in open. The “urinal” was a long trough. The toilets were open for all to see. In order to shave quickly enough to avoid your DI fragging your ass, each boot shaved close in with privates nearly touching privates (and I am not talking about the generic term “Private, as a rank). Having served two Overseas tours, we had open showers and urinals. The toilets, thank God!, were privies.
No one in my generation who has shared such public display of “private parts” has been harmed, either psychologically or physically.
Several years ago I learned that showering in public schools after an athletic event became taboo nearly three decades ago. The kids simply went home all smelly. Really? What in God’s name has caused now two full generations to fear being naked among their own? We have devolved into a society and culture of unwarranted fears and obsessive squeamishness. If a gym buddy is gay, it is not likely he will come onto another “dude” in the shower or while drying off. Gay men likely have more respect for discretion and barriers than many straight men. When then president Bill Clinton in 1992 agreed to Don’t ask, don’t tell [DADT], I realized our country had devolved into a state of inexplicable fear of sex and gender; and into the age of the stupid. That action alone spoke volumes about America’s immaturity when it comes to sex. (Never mind the fact the U.S. uses “sex” both in the blatant and the sublime to promote nearly every product in the universe. Sexual innuendo in advertising is a specialty here in the States.)
As to the transgender folk, I “kinda” get it and I “kinda” don’t get it. At some level it must be hell on earth for a child or adult to realize their body parts do not match their intuitive sexuality (gender). I will embrace and understand their dilemma and urge them on to do what is best for them both physically and psychologically. The population of morons here in the States is by all measure a grotesque group of infantile vigilantes who are so unintelligent their only “tolerant” act is to picket Target Stores or assert their right to check one’s crotch before allowing the use of a restroom. Your “where taboo subjects cannot be escaped” renders how foolish our under-educated pockets of American society are. The other 99.99% of us simply want to go in, do our business, wash our hands and leave. I truly wish the moronic populace would wash THEIR hands of this entire matter and move in. And, please! Memo to those toilet thugs: Do not hang around in the restrooms thinking you might protect “us” from a transgender person. You are the pervert. They are not.
The REVEREND M. VINCENT TURNER
Footnote: Professor Haslam is an Instructor at the University of Melbourne, Australia