Derek Gentile: Regulations targeting transgendered people miss genetic point

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PITTSFIELD — A few weeks ago, I wrote a column decrying legislative attempts to somehow regulate the use of bathrooms by transgendered people.

I got a funny email from an anonymous reader, suggesting that I was so vehement in protecting the rights of the transgendered that maybe I was "one of them."

Not to my knowledge. But the fear this controversy has generated has been startling to me. I've written about a lot of things with which people aren't comfortable. This is one of the most alarming to some people, at least judging from the response I've gotten.

So I'm back with another few points to make. For those who have been living on the moon for the past few weeks, the state of North Carolina recently passed a law requiring transgendered individuals to use bathrooms of the gender under which they are listed on their birth certificate. This has generated enormous pushback from large corporations and popular artists, such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam.

There's a reason for this. North Carolina created a controversy without knowing anything about transgendered people. Or at least it displayed a stunning lack of knowledge.

This is genetics. This is not a case of men dressing up as women to invade rest rooms and assault young girls. Transgendered people do not spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to become sexual predators. They don't need to, right? We have seen hundreds of sex abusers in Berkshire County and none of them assumed another gender in order to assault kids. Unfortunately, they just do.

Let's stay with the idea that there is a genetic component that is compels people to identify with a gender other than that with which they were born. If a young person had a cleft palate, or was born with one arm, we would celebrate when he or she had surgery to repair or replace it, right?

Except for the fact that we're talking about a place to pee or poop, there is no difference. At it's core, this is a genetic issue that requires surgery to correct.

Now. If a man dressed as a woman goes into a women's bathroom to assault a young child, that is a crime. It has been a crime for decades, centuries even. The transgender issue isn't the same thing.

Plus, have you heard of transgendered people assaulting other people in rest rooms? I haven't. If it's happened, it's an isolated incident. It is by no means some kind of criminal epidemic.

I understand why people who don't understand this issue might be afraid. None of them, I know, have actually talked to transgendered people to understand the alienation and pain they deal with regularly.

I can't fix that. But, like me — and you — they are, at the core, just people. And we're not that different after all.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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