Bathroom Bill aka Texas S.B. 6

I typically don’t talk politics here because I find most online political conversation to be unproductive. However, I’m making an exception because Texas state representatives are considering a bill that I find unnecessary, unproductive and unhealthy. Even worse, I cannot find any reason for this bill except for fear mongering. If you believe S.B. 6 is necessary, I hope you’ll listen to my concerns before reacting.

Dear Texas Legislators,

I’d like to understand your goal in regulating bathrooms. It appears Texas Lt Governor Patrick’s proposal will create bathroom chaos, unenforceable regulation and possible health problems for some of the population, none of which seem productive.

Slide1Regulation is a balance of costs & benefits, with benefits outweighing costs. Conservatives prefer less regulation and Texas is known for its conservatism. So why impose additional regulation on bathrooms? What data indicates current regulations (e.g., public indecency/Penal Code Chapter 43, sexual offenses/Penal Code Chapter 21) are not effective in minimizing inappropriate bathroom behavior or privacy infringements?

 

Lt Gov Patrick proposes to ensure no one invades someone else’s privacy in the restroom by drawing a line according to biology . I don’t believe that every man is a pervert trying to spy on someone using the facilities, but it appears Patrick does. Why else would he feel a need to further regulate bathrooms in this way? What data says this is a big issue, that men masquerading as women are spying through the cracks in the stall doors to watch us? Let’s look at the data and see if his proposal is the most productive way to secure our privacy. (I have yet to find any published data supporting his position.)

For now, let’s assume that TX follows NC in regulating our most private moments and insists that people use the bathroom associated with the gender on their birth certificate. Let’s discuss enforceability. Imagine you’re a woman (e.g., me) in the women’s room and a person dressed as a man walks in, and that they are a woman-at-birth and therefore must use the women’s room. What are you going to do? Ask him for his birth certificate, the document that Lt Gov Patrick proposes as the basis for this regulation? Who will tell him he can’t use the bathroom if he can’t prove that he’s a girl-at-birth? Who will force him to use the men’s room even though our state leadership banned him from doing so? Who will enforce this regulation and how will they do so? An unenforceable rule is worse than no rule since it will create chaos.

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Let’s assume ‘he’ was born a ‘she’ and can prove it by producing a birth certificate. Now, we’ve created a ruckus, all to make sure that a ‘real’ woman is in the right bathroom. Is your average citizen going to quietly challenge this apparent man or are they going to get a security guard? Will most bystanders think, “oh, bathroom bill enforcement” or will they think “Pervert!!??” If a born-female-identifies-as-male follows Patrick’s rule, aren’t we creating more regulation than is reasonable? Are we accomplishing anything besides making a transgendered person afraid to use a bathroom (which is unhealthy). I would prefer to not have this kind of chaos when I am trying to simply use the facilities and go on my way. I’m perfectly fine having a transgendered person use the obvious facility (mens room if they identify male and women’s room if they identify female) as long as they behave themselves, as we expect everyone to do.

Or is that the point? Does Lt Gov Patrick think that transgendered people are simply perverts? Or that the only folks who call themselves transgendered are really just perverts masquerading as the other sex so they can get into the women’s bathroom? Is there data that supports this? I’m 54 and have never had any experience in a public restroom that leads me to believe bathroom voyeurism is a widespread problem, nor do I know of anyone who has had this happen to them. But maybe I’m just lucky, so please, where is the data?

Lt Governor Patrick stated “This issue is so clear and simple that it defies belief. Do they really want a man walking into a restroom with their daughter or mother or wife?” How often does a father/husband/son go into the women’s room with their daughter/wife/mother, aside from the obvious toddler attending with his mommy? Do we really think that your average male will just wander into the women’s room if we don’t make a law against it? If we think this, where is the data? If there is no data, why is a conservative like Patrick trying to regulate our bathrooms? What point is there in promoting fear that is based on how someone looks?

image_thumb95According to Media Matters, “The “bathroom predator” myth has been repeatedly debunked — by experts and government officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and school administrators in 23 school districts and four universities. Despite overwhelming evidence, many media outlets continue to uncritically repeat the debunked myth peddled by anti-LGBT groups.” Further, “Texas Experts Debunk The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Experts — including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for sexual assault victims — from three Texas cities with LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances debunked the “bathroom predator” myth, citing empirical evidence and experience working with sexual assault victims. [Media Matters, 10/15/15]”

Without data, it appears Lt Gov Patrick is promoting a particular social agenda but not accomplishing anything productive. I have no doubt there are sexual predators out there, but don’t our current laws already address that issue? Don’t we already have laws that outlaw predatory behavior regardless of sexual orientation or appearance? This proposal is NOT a priority, not when we have bigger problems, like making sure we’re all employed, that our roads are safe, that we have affordable healthcare, that we have competitive education systems, that we can defend our nation…. you get my point. I’m hopeful our state leaders are more focused on big issues, not bathrooms.We Don't care sign

 

Mother Trees

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, or is it?

Is every man only looking out for himself? I’ll warn you that I’ve searched far and wide for cliches today….

I was recently reading about networks and communities. No man is an island, after all. 😉 In my reading, I kept coming across the concept of ‘mother trees’ and a biologist named Suzanne Simard, who talks about big trees support seedlings, enabling them to grow. Like the mother trees in Avatar, these large, older trees rise above the forest and connect to other trees via a network of fungal threads. It appears these mother trees not only share nutrients with weaker trees, they’ll also do so when it means sacrificing their own needs. In return, the seedlings grow and will provide nutrients to others, including the mother trees.  Ms. Simard describes forests as complex networks of trees who communicate and support each other, making the whole forest more resilient.

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Some of you will say that’s a bunch of hooey and use words like “anthropomorphize”, meaning we’re attributing human traits to non-humans, but how else do you describe the passing of nutrients when needed? We can debate anthropomorphism another day and get back to my original question: Is every man or tree only looking out for himself? Or is it all for one and one for all?

I vote for B. We’re a community and our networks make us stronger. Our ability to support each other in times of need means that more of us survive, both literally and figuratively.

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Back to Ms. Simard for a moment. She also mentions that forests can be more vulnerable because of the trees’ networks. If you damage the mother trees, the whole forest declines. Or, if you let loose a scourge (I always wanted to use that word…. 🙂 ), like the bark beetle, the trees’ network may collapse. How do you make a forest less susceptible to a scourge? Diversity. Instead of one or two types of trees, you have many types of trees, some that are resistant to a particular attack. The more diversity, the less the risk of the community failing.

My point in as few words as possible:

  • Mother trees (hubs) matter. These are the people who connect us to each other and help us get what we need, especially in times of stress.
  • Even the smallest seedling can contribute to the well being of others and their community.
  • Diversity fortifies our community against harm.

As you go through your week, I hope you look at your world with fresh eyes. Who are the mother trees in your network? How do the smallest, youngest, weakest members contribute? How can diversity strengthen you and your community?  In short, how are we better together?

More Singing!

That title probably has some of you running for the mute button. Not everyone feels the joy of raising your voice. But even those of us without vocal skill (yet, there’s always hope…) can join in since it’s about the trying, especially if your friends ❤ you a lot.

singing-daily

Did you know that singing is good for you? It releases endorphins, which helps with stress. Imagine your next big meeting, everyone’s all stressy, and you start a British style singsong…. Ha! Even that little bit made you smile, huh? Singing  is good but singing in a group is even better, improving your confidence and sense of community.

irish-singsong

Let’s sing along with a few secular Christmas carols this week. I’ve got Hannukah songs teed up for next Friday and I’m taking suggestions. 😀

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus debuted in 1952 as a Saks Fifth Avenue promotion and, did you know (?), was banned by Catholic Church in Boston for a while. After the lyricist met with the Archbishop, they lifted the ban. Here’s the Jackson 5 cover.

Up On the Housetop is the 2nd oldest secular Christmas song  (Jingle Bells is the oldest). Here’s Pentatonix’s 360 version (make sure you view with a Chrome, Internet Explorer browser since Safari doesn’t do 360).

Written by Irving Berlin in 1942, White Christmas became the best selling record of all time (Bing Crosby version). Collabro is a British acapella group with lovely harmonies.

Mele Kalikimaka (May-lay Kah-lee-kee-mah-kah) means “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian. It’s a really kitschy song, first recorded in 1950 by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. This version by the Puppini Sisters is a great update. We grew up singing this one so it’s a personal fave. ❤

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All I Want for Christmas is a recent addition from Mariah Carey (I couldn’t resist this Carpool Karaoke version!).  This version, though, was sung on the The Voice Kids Portugal. It isn’t polished but don’t you love the way the judges got into it? THAT’s the power of joy, the power of song. It helps that the judges have GREAT voices but I howled along just fine from here. 🙂 Both versions, Carpool and The Voice show the fun of singing together…. I’m just saying, again. 😉

Let’s go make some joyful memories!

 

 

 

A Million Things to Be

We are rich in opportunities. Sure, there are obstacles between us and our goals, but that’s life. Sometimes those obstacles are speed bumps and sometimes they’re brick walls. But what if there is something meaningful on the other side? Will you get stopped by the voice in your head that says, “I can’t”?

speedbumps

What do you see when you look around, the speedbumps, the brick walls, the can’ts?

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Or do you see the doors, the windows, the what ifs?

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It’s no secret that I see the what-ifs. (Unless I’m cranky, then I’m all about the I-don’t-wannas …. :D) I think this is one reason I really like this hump day ad, Free To Be – 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Summit. It’s well designed, cleverly edited and full of feel-goods. By the way, the accompanying song is Cat Stevens’s If You Want to Sing Out.

The ad ran this fall, during the peak of the election cycle, and Jeep did a great job of taking a very angsty, emotional time in the US and flipping it, reminding us that we’re better together. Jeep reminded us that, if we want to, we can see beyond our differences to that which makes us a community. My question for you: do you want to?

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Happy Hump Day, may you find more doors than brick walls!