Rainbow and transgender flag. Image: Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

An Open Letter To J.K. Rowling

Before I start, I’d first like to say that I don’t consider you transphobic. That’s a HUGE misnomer considering you openly support transgender people and their safety.

In fact, I wouldn’t even call you ignorant. From your latest blog post (which this entire article refers to), it’s clear you have plenty of understanding about transgender issues.

But dare I say that you are quite ill-informed. Because you seem to hold irrational fears of perverted men (or women) taking advantage of gender-neutral bathrooms and trans activists downplaying the biological female.

I’m here to offer you a new perspective.

Sex vs Gender

I agree with you that being a woman should not be based on the standards that society upholds. In fact, the true art of being a woman is a personal and collective journey that is not beholden to society. Is that a sex or gender standpoint? To be honest, it’s hard to differentiate when society systematically blends them together.

Indeed, sex is defined as the physical characteristics of a person — whether attributes, chromosomes and hormones — while gender refers to the personal connection to one’s body. Your problem, however, is that you think trans activists are trying to eradicate sex altogether and replace it with gender — as if only one could survive. But it’s not a battle, it’s a balance.

What trans people are trying to do is correct the misgendering labels on their own visas, birth certificates and other legal documentation. Because they don’t see the necessity for everyone to know what genitals they have. For that is essentially what sex categories on legal documents do. Saying that your sex is female is not saying that you are a “woman”, it’s saying that you have a female body. That you have a  vagina and breasts.

As you know, the problem here is that transgender people may not have the right sex characteristics, but they still identify as the opposite sex. On a personal level, they know their genitals or chromosomes don’t match — but why do we all need to know? The only time you’re ever going to be looking at their genitals is if you’re shagging them or treating them as a medical professional.

So what’s the point of listing sex at all? Well, we do it for identification purposes. And my argument here is that identifying sex is only important at the medical office or in the bedroom. I mean, sure, if you want to go out into the world and boast that you have a vagina and boobs, then great! It’s your life, do what you will…

But some of us in this world want to identify differently. Hence why we have the term “gender”.

The Bathroom Debacle

And then we label bathrooms, even though most of us use toilet cubicles. Yet, you’re worried about someone who may have male genitalia coming in to use the ladies. It’s all cubicles, is it not? Women can have the privacy to poop or pee behind closed doors, and then powder their nose all clothed in front of the mirror afterwards. In fact, you don’t hear men complaining about the idea of people with vaginas who may identify as men coming into a male bathroom. And they’ve got open-air urinals where you could practically gander at your neighbour’s nether regions.

And what about intersex people? Some of them may have mixed genitalia, but a lot of them have whimsical chromosomes and hormones. In fact, some guy who looks like a hot bloke could actually have a vagina. And they may probably just use the male bathroom while sticking to the cubicle to ward off dirty looks.

In your article, you write about the fear of men using the open bathroom policy as a way to attack women. But I’m sure we can agree that men don’t need special permission to be perverted. What kind of man would go to the struggle of changing their gender on a legal document just so they can probably cop a view of some lady doing a shit? That’s usually not why we use the bathroom. Even cruising gay men don’t use the bathroom like that. We prefer to conduct negotiations (however non-verbal) outside the cubicle before we enter.

And if we’re gonna throw statistics in here, I can say that there are virtually zero cases of transgender people sexually assaulting women or men in their respective bathrooms. Yet, on the other hand, there are plenty of cases of transgender people being harassed while going for a pee.

The Answer You Forgot To Mention

I’m a wholehearted believer that the remedy for most of the world’s problems is education. And within your succinct opinion piece, you forgot to mention that. If we’re gonna strive for an antidote against real transphobia while upholding the values of womanhood, we need to teach the truth.

Kids, teenagers and, indeed, adults need to know the difference between sex and gender, and they need to know that some people may feel indifferent to their biological sex. And to remedy your fear about young people being more likely to opt for surgical transitioning, we need to teach them that this is a life-changing procedure. That they need to really consider the implications before going ahead.

There are too many bubbles in this world. Bubbles that shroud people away from real truths. The bubbles of schoolkids who form their own cliques and learn life skills within them. And the bubbles of adults who form collective opinions in online forums.

Those bubbles need popping.

Perhaps the greatest gift of all we can give to the new generation is teaching them how to pop their own bubble. Only then can we truly be free – in whatever gender we wish to be.

Editors note: I am not transgender, and I’m not here to speak on their behalf. But I understand enough about sexuality and gender to offer informed comment to those who need it.

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