When I taught human sexuality in a New York City public high school health class many years ago, the term "transgender" did not exist. Among the various ways humans express themselves sexually, there were transvestites, people who dressed opposite from their biological gender, and then there were transsexuals, those who chose to have an operation and hormone therapy to alter their biological gender. I was careful not to insert my personal beliefs or feelings into any lesson I taught, so the delivery on these definitions was dry and matter-of-fact.


What is "normal?"

Of course, "normal" people were neither transvestites nor transsexuals. Normal people were comfortable with their biological gender. If you weren't comfortable with your biological gender something was wrong with you. I was taught tolerance, however growing up. For a time during my youth, my parents owned a boutique and made custom clothing in downtown Riverside, California. There was a customer I thought was a bit odd. "George," my mother called him. George dressed as a woman.

George ordered and purchased clothing from the store. He was a regular. I never thought of George as a woman, although he clearly wanted to be one and look like one. He always wore a dress, softened his voice, wore make-up, and had obvious effeminate gestures and mannerisms. I never felt threatened or intimidated by George. Because my mother treated him like any other person she modeled how she expected me to behave with him.

What is privacy?

In the letter handed down to all public schools yesterday by the U.S.


Department of Education, we are to believe that the privacy rights of males and females are secondary to the access rights of those who identify as transgender. Transgender, if I had to teach it in a public school health class, is not necessarily a transvestite or a transsexual, because the government's definition of the term is psychological, not necessarily connected to biological reality or social fact, they represent an elimination of all privacy rights previously taken for granted by normal gender individuals.

Transgender is the wild card of sexuality. Therefore, according to the directive of the Department of Education, public schools must make accommodation for these wild cards and give them access to all previously segregated areas of the school facilities and programs they choose to "identify" with.


As a public school district administrator, this issue hit me square in the face upon being notified and then reading the letter myself, delivered through intranet email. There was much confusion about the vagueness of the wording in the document.


One administrator said out loud that he would not consider the political nature of the guidance, but was more concerned with the logistics of it. I said accommodation would be easy. Just have transgender students use the nurse's office restroom, already and always a non-gender specific restroom. One colleague wondered if that would violate the edict by excluding them from the other restrooms. I thought that going to the restroom should not be a spectacle. It's private. Students with all types of personal health issues use the nurse's office restroom without anyone ever giving a thought to whether or not the person was male, female or transgender. The nurse's office restroom, therefore, would be the perfect solution.

Rights vs. Responsibilities

The Constitution of the United States promises equal protection under the law is expressed in separate gender restrooms and access to traditional gender specific activities. Because individuals choose to identify one way or the other shouldn't give them the right to invade the privacy of the majority. In other words, we all have a responsibility to respect the rights of others. Traditionally, in this country, we have the freedom to live however we choose so long as we don't break any laws and don't violate the rights of others. Being transgender is a right, but imposing it on others is wrong.