What does it mean to be tolerant? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary it’s a willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. This does not in any way mean we have to agree. On the contrary, disagreement is a prerequisite for tolerance.
Tolerance implies that we accept or put up with something or someone we do not like. When we say that we tolerate someone, we also say that we have profoundly different opinions. Most people probably haven’t thought of tolerance as problematic, but I have been moving in that direction the last few years as I have witnessed a type of tolerance that ignores other people. Everything is about what gives ourselves pleasure; our neighbour does not matter at all. So we want to be able to enjoy liberal laws and attitudes, even when it has negative consequences to others.
I have written about Colleen Francis in a previous post. This 45 year old transgender, but biological man, was granted the right to use the women’s locker room at Evergreen College because he identified as a woman. Read about it in Mail Online. I recently came across a similar case, and this time it wasn’t an individual claiming this right, but Target was eager to show their level of tolerance. They referred to a federal law designed to prevent discrimination based on gender identity, and they introduced transgender bathrooms. This means that men can use the ladies room if they say that they identify as a woman. It doesn’t matter that they are still biologically a man. We are just supposed to trust that a man no longer has the sex drive he had as a man. Target had a positive angle and claimed this was in line with the company’s inclusiveness. Read a brief statement on the Target site.
This may sound like a good idea, but not when we have men like Norwood Smith Burnes who undressed in front of children in the women’s restroom at a WalMart, and Christopher Hambrook who assaulted a woman in a shelter in Toronto. North Carolina wants to keep biological men and women separated and the state has had a fight with federal authorities, which has led to law suits both ways. Federal authorities feel it is wrong to discrminiate against someone who has chosen to identify as transgender. There are a lot of worms in this particular can, and I believe we could see many other groups demanding rights.
People are very different and some may feel that society should respect them and clear some space for them. It’s not inconceivable that some people in the future might openly identify as pedophile or rapist, crazy as that sounds. There is a high profile blogger in Norway called Saksynt that argues that owning child pornography does not make you a pedophile, which has had some people question his orientation. A few years ago the infamous attorney Tor Erling Staff defended a pedophile called “the pocket man”. The attorney wrote in his biography that he had sex with older men from the age of 12 and he thought that the only problem was the way society reacted. That’s what harmed children, according to Staff. These are some of the attitude socalled respected people have.
There’s a diagnose called species dysphoria, which is used for people that feel they are less human. There was a case in Norway recently and the state broadcasting corporation was criticised because people felt that a woman who was being interviewed should have been protected from herself. She said she had always felt like a cat and that’s how she lived her life. There is also something called dysmorphic disorder, which is a strong feeling that there is something wrong with your body. What about personality disorders? People with paranoid personality disorder are supposedly sensitive, easily offended, and perceive the world as unfriendly (it is to many people without being mentally ill) and they may decide to fight back. Compulsive personality disorder is characterized by excessive orderliness and so much focus on details that they can’t see the whole picture.
If someone decides to identify as something else, are we supposed to enable them? This could have some extreme results. If a 15 year old girl decides to become anorexic should her school make it easier for her to choose that lifestyle, and if they don’t would that be a violation of human rights? The Huffington Post had a couple of posts where they didn’t seem to take the “bathroom debate” seriously. They claimed this wasn’t about safety for girls and women, but about those who feel unformortable around transgender people. They quoted the police in another article claiming transgender bathroom would not increase the risk of rape. Nevertheless I think the new law will change things. This will make it easier for men with malicious intent.
I can tolerate transsexuals in the sense that I disagree, but accept their right to choose a different lifestyle as long as they don’t violate other people’s rights. I’m still not convinced it’s a good idea to send girls into a restroom or locker room where I suspect there could be tetosteron-producing males. There may not be many rapes as a direct result of this liberal attitude, but it’s hardly going to help victims knowing society has allowed this to happen.
Another thing is whether we are willing to risk treatmant. There was a documentary series in Norway last year called Born in the wrong body. This received a lot of positive feedback and everybody agreed that we should accept their right to choose gender. Doctors used to prescribe large amounts of estrogen drugs for women in menopause, but about 15 years ago they started to realise how dangerous this could be. A number of studies have shown a risk of cancer, heart/vascular disease and stroke. When we accept the assertion that some girls are trapped inside a boy’s body and vice versa, we should ask ourselves whether it’s worth the risk.
A woman replied to the Norwegian version of this post. She pointed out that someone who feels that he/she was born in the wrong body doesn’t have the experiences they felt they should have had. A boy who thinks he should have been a girl doesn’t have the body or the hormones of a girl. This always reminds me of a boy I met some years ago as a teacher. When he started 1st grade as a six year old he presented himself as a very pink boy. His parents had encouraged him to like girls toys. He gradually lost this interest during his first year in school and eventually football with the boys was more interesting than pink dolls and ponies.
I heard about a boy in Argentina a couple of years ago. When he was six he supposedly told his parents that he felt he should have been a girl. His parents had the paper work done to change his gender officially, but as he will be growing up in a male body I don’t think he is every going to feel like a girl.