Back when I was in high school, the Equal Rights Amendment was in the news. (Yes, I am that old.) We debated it, researched it, wrote papers on it, and held mock elections. Boys carried signs calling it the “Equal Restrooms Amendment.” (They were making fun of the ERA, but in fact, restroom parity seemed like a good idea at the time, as there was always a line in the women’s room, but never one in the men’s. But I digress.)
Now, with the ERA poised to become law (perhaps) since Virginia ratified it, the most important issue to some is how it will affect restrooms. Pearls are being clutched over the idea that any male – and especially transgender ones – can just walk into a women’s bathroom, locker room, or shower room and peep at the girls. Or worse. There’s also a lot of talk about men being able to compete in women’s sports and win all the prizes.
People don’t believe me when I tell them that the entire text of the amendment reads:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Sec. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Sec. 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
That’s it. Not a word about restrooms or sports. According to section two, the states can make any laws they want about restroom restrictions or sporting events, and the courts (now packed with Republicans) will decide whether they are constitutional – whether they abide by the ERA.
It’s also important to note that there are already laws that say men are not allowed to stalk, molest, kidnap, or otherwise harass women or children in restrooms, or anywhere else for that matter. Of course, these laws do not prevent men from doing so, but they establish penalties should anyone transgress. The ERA would not change these laws.
Really, the hubbub seems to be more about transgender individuals, who (at least according to the opponents) decide every day which gender they wish to be. And individuals with penises – always a danger to women who necessarily have their pants down. Or transgender individuals who have not had their penises removed. Or something. (The prospect of lesbians peeping in women’s restrooms is never addressed, perhaps because it is not a real problem.)
And let’s not forget men participating in women’s sports. Or having an unfair advantage if they do. Or something. Never mind that there are many sports, such as marathon races, that allow both women and men to participate. Yes, the men usually do better than the women, but that’s not the point. Women used to be arrested for trying to run in a marathon. Now they can, all without the ERA. (Title IX, which dictates parity in women’s and men’s sports in publically funded institutions like schools and colleges, is something totally else.)
But let’s get back to the intent of the ERA, those three tiny sections (not hundreds of pages of documents, as some have claimed and apparently believe). Their purpose is to establish equal rights for women – and men – in matters such as pay, law, education, advancement, opportunities, and areas where women are at a disadvantage simply because they are women.
But notice that men would be covered by the amendment as well. It’s not called the Women’s Rights Amendment, after all, and there’s a reason for that. In areas such as child custody, for example, where women have the advantage simply because they are women, men would have equal rights under the law.
It’s sad that there is so much fear, misunderstanding, and falsehoods about what is really a simple concept – equality under the law. The right to be treated equally by organizations and institutions. The explicit right to be protected by the Constitution, for all citizens.
But it’s not about the restrooms. It was never about the restrooms.
4 thoughts on “The Equal Restrooms Amendment”
Great article, Janet. What concerns me is this: whether the transgrndered person born a man has had his reproductive organs surgically altered or not, she still has the muscle mass of a man.
With that said, with this muscle mass, she has an unfair advantage over born women. And I feel like those of us who are born female have been knocked back to the days before natural women could even compete in sports.
It puts born females at a huge disadvantage when competing in sports.
Remember that the powers that be are still a patriarchy. What better way to put women back “in their places” than to put transgendered women into sports- people who were born male, surgically became women or identify as female, but have the muscle mass to bury born women in sports.
And do it in the name of “Equality”.
It’s a pretty good trick the patriarchy would have if you really think about it.
It’s only my opinion.
Thank you for posting!
Just a few words on the subject in your article of transgender women competing in sports…I will also post this on your blog in reply to a negative comment about trans women in sports.
Every major sporting governance body has rules for IF / WHEN / and HOW a transgender woman can compete in their sport – from the IOC, to boxing, to weightlifting, to track and field sports, etc.
They pretty much all follow these rules. The trans woman in question must have been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for at least two years, must have been living as a woman for at least one year – and the IOC requires Gender Confirmation Surgery and legal name and gender change. The woman must undergo continuous testing of her testosterone levels and for at least one year before she competes, her testosterone has to be at a level lower than any CIS woman will ever see.
Let’s talk about what HRT does to a trans woman. HRT feminizes the body. There is loss of muscle mass to that brings the trans woman’s muscle mass in line with CIS females of her fitness level. There is significant loss of fast twitch muscle fibers, again bringing her overall ability in line with a CIS female of her same athletic ability. HRT reduces the total red blood cell count that again affects endurance and again, she will see her levels go down to be in the range of any CIS female athlete. HRT changes her fat distribution, breast tissue develops, and fat distributes to typically female areas. HRT also reduces bone density, though that can take a number of years. This, if you think about it, actually acts in hindrance to the transgender athlete as her bones are larger, but her muscles have reshaped themselves to conform to female anatomy. Transgender athletes experience significant loss of speed, endurance, and strength. So you typically have a taller woman with larger bones, moving them around with anatomically female muscle structures.
I am not an athlete, but I am a transwoman who has been on HRT for just over two years. My testosterone levels are below 20 and have been for more than a year. I can absolutely confirm loss of strength, endurance, and speed just in my own fairly sedentary life.
People still use, in articles like this the term “man” to refer to a transgender woman, and it is clear that we are still thought of as “men”. Men do not participate in women’s sports. Women do. I have never been a man. Just a different kind of woman – a trans woman. I now where Janet’s heart is at, so I take no offense, but thought it should be clarified that trans women are women even in the context of sports.
And bathrooms…well bathrooms are a whole other story for trans people…
I was thinking that there were inaccuracies in the previous comment and that you were the person to go to for clarification. I’m sorry if I phrased it badly. I had been hearing some pretty uninformed things on my timeline and was trying to respond to them. Thanks for your help!
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Thank you for talking about the issues of equal rights. 🙂