It’s a day I remember well — too well, in fact, because I’d just as soon forget about it. Some 25 years ago I was either on the way back to Greenville, where I was living at the time, or en route to Charleston for a break. At any rate, I pulled off I-26’s exit 50 near Clinton where the golden arches of McDonald’s beckoned me for coffee and a couple of their finest menu selections. After placing my order I took a moment to use the facilities.
Evidently I was in a very day-dreamy state of mind and not paying attention to anything, because I upped and took a seriously wrong turn. I’m not talking about catching myself at the door and doing an abrupt about face as if nothing had happened. I’m talking about walking right into the middle of the ladies’ bathroom in a complete daze and being startled back to reality by a cacophony of horrified gasps. Needless to say, I blurted an urgent apology and turned so quickly that there had to have been a vapor trail.
And, yes, that moment changed my life forever, because to this day I will at least double-check before using any public bathroom. But why bother? If I were in some kind of way — and even if not — I could simply barge in, wave the banner of being a pre-surgical transgender and, in 2016, this is considered progress and nobody cares. Or if they do, it might be tempered over concern of being labeled prejudiced or discriminatory.
For people who have actually had sex change operations, I understand the need and appropriateness of their using bathrooms that conform to their current sex. In other words, it would not be appropriate at this point for Chaz Bono to use a ladies’ room, nor would it be appropriate for Caitlyn Jenner to use a men’s room.
But for pre-surgical transgenders to go to the anatomic opposite sex’s bathroom — absolutely not. For transvestites, no. For peeping Toms, no. For peeping Toms claiming to be transgender, no. For transgenders who have had sex change procedures but now regret it, no. For male lesbians, no. For females now confused because men are showing up in the bathrooms, no.
For anyone or anything that denigrates common sense, common decency, individual rights to privacy; when the collective body of same is threatened by philosophical gobbledygook purporting to advocate for individual expression under the guise of civil rights — NO! What is going on here?
I’ll tell you what’s going on — from a different angle. Walk north on Church Street above Broad on the east side of the street. You will soon come to the Huguenot Church cemetery. Immediately adjacent to the street is a tombstone with the name Mary Lynn Witherspoon inscribed upon it. Ms. Witherspoon was strangled to death in her Tradd Street house in 2003 by Edmonds Tennent Brown IV, now serving a life sentence without parole, who now insists “her” name is Katheryn Brown and would like the state Department of Corrections to help with a transformative process that would make it “official.” That’s right — your tax dollars at work.
If only his public defender had let him dress as a woman and have a jury trial, Brown says, the outcome of the case might have been different based on gender identity issues. “I would have been in dressed in a cream-colored Chanel skirt-suit with a pair of 4½-inch spike Jimmy Choos and makeup,” Brown wrote in correspondence with one of our reporters that was included in an April 17 Post and Courier story.
As of now, the story reported, the state will provide ongoing hormone therapy to inmates who enter prison with the treatment already under way, but will not authorize new treatments or provide gender reassignment surgery.
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.