Apr 242016

The interwebs are vibrating with apoplexy at the issue of transgender people in public toilets – those who insist they should tie a knot in it and not use a toilet (or use some other toilet), and those who oppose them. North Carolina has recently passed a law requiring transgender people to use the toilet suited to the gender of their birth, and other states are set to follow. To USians who are puzzled by my use of the word “toilet” – in the UK it refers to both the room itself and the appliance.

In some ways I would more naturally fit into the first camp – I don’t understand transgender issues, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to go down the route of gender re-assignment. To me the gender of the meatspace body my mind wears is immutable.

But here’s the thing: if someone decides to go down the route of gender re-assignment, it’s none of my business. And this law is just plain stupid not to mention malicious.

And so to toilets. In IT there is a principle called the Principle of Least Astonishment which in a sense is quite relevant here. If I go to a public toilet, I normally expect to find myself alongside (figuratively and literally in the case of the urinal) people who look like men; if there’s someone in there who looks like a woman (and it has happened – women sometimes use the men’s facilities) then for a moment I wonder if I’ve wandered through the wrong door.

So it stands to reason that people who look like men should use the men’s toilets and people who look like women should use the women’s toilets. Nothing to do with right and wrong, it’s just simple logic and that principle I mentioned in the last paragraph. Of course it is also the right thing to do.

Now we all know there are perverts out there – there are male perverts, and female perverts, and it stands to reason that there are a few transgender perverts too, and yes some of them are interested in children too (but not all; most perverts are probably as horrified by paedophilia as normal people are). So? What does this have to do with toilets?

Unless what goes on in public women’s toilets is a good deal more exciting than what goes on in the men’s facilities, there’s really nothing for someone to get excited about (and men do share a urinal!).

And frankly even if perverts are weird enough to get excited in public toilets, there’s better strategies than picking on a minority group. Such as concentrating on making those doors and walls for toilet stalls floor to ceiling.

Now I’m going to go for a pee in peace.

(Obviously stolen from Sarah)

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