A doctor takes on the bathroom ploy in civil rights debate | Arkansas Blog

A doctor takes on the bathroom ploy in civil rights debate

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Eureka Springs votes May 12 on a civil rights ordinance that extends protections to gay and transgender people.

The key campaign ploy by fundamentalist "Christians" there — as everywhere else — is to demonize people whose sex has changed since birth. The bathroom ploy. The irrational, unsubstantiated — but apparently very effective — bathroom ploy.

It's being used shamelessly in Eureka Springs — an appeal to ignorance and emotion, without a trace of honesty. A letter to the editor in the Lovely County Citizen from a local doctor responds to the tactic and I reprint it here because it's applicable anywhere, not merely in the normally tolerant confines of Eureka Springs.

As a physician, I want all patients to feel welcome in my clinic, so usually I don't make public political statements. However, due to some of the incredible misinformation that I'm hearing in the discussion over Eureka Springs Ordinance 2223, I must speak out. I have read several letters and guest editorials — in both local newspapers — and seen multiple advertisements from those wishing to overturn Ordinance 2223 and have been angered at the outright lies and hateful misinformation concerning transgendered people. In my practice I have treated many transgendered folks.

I have treated their run-of-the-mill acute illnesses as well as their chronic illnesses. I also have helped many on their way to making their bodies match the gender that they know they really are. Additionally, I have known many transgendered people socially. I can state unequivocally that I have never met a transgender person who saw their situation as an opportunity to molest someone in the bathroom.

I have never met a transgender person who chose to be transgender. Each and every one of these fine people were born knowing that the gender their minds told them they were didn't match the sex of their bodies. The incredible struggle that transgendered people go through as they bring their bodies into alignment with who they are is long and painful.

To suggest that a transgender person wants Ordinance 2223 to pass so that they can go into a public restroom or locker room for voyeuristic intention or to "molest your daughters" is insulting and hateful and frankly demonstrates that those who say such things are either completely ignorant or willfully bigoted and, as far as I'm concerned, should be liable for slander.

Being transgender isn't a fad, it isn't something someone has dreamed up. It's a genuine biological condition that is recognized by every major medical association. Despite assertions to the contrary, being transgendered is a very real condition and one which causes enormous internal anguish and suffering until a person begins on that road to transitioning their body to their actual sex.

Even after making that transition, trans people still suffer almost daily at the hands of bigoted people, most often with religious overtones. To the religious leaders who are stirring up fear in our community using this hateful misinformation, I say shame on you. You are causing even more pain for a group of people you don't like just so you can make political gains. I can't imagine any action less Christ-like than that.

For my part, I have never heard of a transgendered person using a public restroom of their true sex as a way to spy on others or molest someone. However, I can cite multiple examples of preachers who have used their position to molest children or have used public bathrooms to hook-up for sex. Specifically, I ask

Pastor Wilson what makes him an authority on transgender people? Has he ever worked with a transgender person? Has he even met a transgender person?

Did Pastor Wilson go to medical school? Does he have a degree in psychology from an accredited institution? I don't know Pastor Wilson and, to my knowledge, I haven't met him. I wouldn't presume to accuse him of being anything other than a decent human being. All I'm asking is that Pastor Wilson stop accusing people he's never met and about whom he obviously knows so little, of despicable, heinous activity.

I'll close by quoting my favorite scripture from the Bible: "Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. The one who doesn't love, doesn't know God, for God is love." — 1 John 4:7-8.

John House, M.D.



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