Banning transgender bathrooms is like defending slavery (and that’s a good thing!?)

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Confederate reenactors at Boonsboro, Maryland, September 8, 2012. Photo by on Cogswell via Flickr creative commons

Confederate reenactors at Boonsboro, Maryland, September 8, 2012. Photo by on Cogswell via Flickr creative commons

I need your help figuring out this analogy. I’m not sure if this a terribly failed attempt at an analogy, or if I’ve lost my grasp of logic and history.

Covering religion and politics is fun, but there’s a cost: I read a lot of kookie arguments. Activists from both left and right, secular and fundamentalist often make arguments that are (at best) illogical. Sometimes they are so mind-bending that I question my hold on reality and rationality. This is one of those times.

Confederate reenactors at Boonsboro, Maryland, September 8, 2012. Photo by on Cogswell via Flickr creative commons

Confederate reenactors at Boonsboro, Maryland, September 8, 2012. Photo by on Cogswell via Flickr creative commons

North Carolina enacted a law prohibiting local LGBT protections, including allowing access to public bathrooms based on gender identity. As a result, there has been a backlash including New York and Connecticut have cut off state-funded travel to North Carolina and PayPal halting their new headquarters in Charlotte.

Family Action Council of Tennessee’s David Fowler compared the situation to a “New Civil War” (or as he refers to it throughout his post “The War Between the States”). No analogy is perfect, but I’m not grasping this one.

The first shot of the Civil War War Between the States came from South Carolina firing on Fort Sumter. According to , the first shot is from New York who shot at North Carolina. So, it’s like the start of the Civil War War Between the States except not.

The key moral issue in 1861 and today surrounds the question of what it means to be human: are we all created in the image of God? Here’s the connection to today:

“Even as some states thought slavery was a moral wrong of such gravity that fellow states should be prohibited from having policies that protected or institutionalized that moral wrong, it appears that at least New York and Connecticut think belief in certain biological and sexual realities is so wrong that no state should be allowed to have policies that reflect those realities.”

I have a hunch that Governor Cuomo probably agrees with this statement, but not the way the author intended. Is the point that denying access to bathrooms is a fundamental moral issue like slavery in which there is right and wrong, or is the argument that slavery, like bathroom access, only seems like a moral issue but is really just a matter of opinion (and certainly not one that should be imposed on the South)?

Fowler questions his own analogy, but, again, for reasons I can’t quite grasp.

In 1861, “opponents of slavery could at least point to some standard that transcended all states.” In this case, however, “liberal governors in New York and Connecticut…would reject the use of any transcendent laws or principles that may be found in the Bible by which to judge human laws.”

The governors may not cite the Bible (neither does North Carolina) or “image of God” references (neither does North Carolina) but they do recognize universal principles.

“In New York, we believe that all people – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement.

Governor Dannel Malloy said in statement, “When we see discrimination and injustice, we have to act.  This law is not just wrong, it poses a public safety risk to Connecticut residents traveling through North Carolina…This law endangers the welfare not just of North Carolina’s citizens, but of all people visiting that state.”

It’s not a list of Bible verses, but when I read references to equality, justice, and safety I don’t conclude that they “reject the use of any transcendent laws or principles that may be found in the Bible.”

Fine. We can agree to disagree on that. Let’s say that this is a new Civil War War Between the States. How will the South win? According to Fowler, it may resolve itself if those who don’t like things in the South stay up north and out west and leave the South alone. Those who don’t want to impose their values on the South are welcome, but the rest can stay home.

Right, because that’s how things have resolved themselves before?

To summarize: The new Civil War War Between the States is New York firing the first shot on a southern state. As with slavery, it’s a northern state who thinks its moral position is so universal that the southern state must follow along except that, like in 1861, this position is relative and not really a moral issue that rises to the level of some states trying to impose their morality on other states.

Maybe the best analogy is to Godwin’s Law.  This “law” states that given enough comments on the internet, eventually someone will compare the issue to Hitler and the Nazis. This post by Fowler is the southern conservative version: any disagreement with a southern state law will be compared to the Civil War War Between the States. 

The better arguments surrounding North Carolina’s law and the backlash stay away from comparisons to slavery, war, and such. There are disagreements about important values, but we’re not going to resolve the disagreements with analogies stretched and twisted like taffy.

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  • David Lloyd-Jones

    The news reports on these laws are always incomplete. What steps are these virtuous States taking to enforce their laws upon aircraft flying over them or, even worse, landing and taking off there?

    Every airport in North Carolina and Mississippi is now a locus of depravity,

    Tis is, or course, the result of many years of blindness on the part of these legislators: males and females have been using the same aircraft toilets since forever. The slippery slope has now slud.


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  • Charles Miller

    I’ve given up on trying to suss out the logic or reason in the arguments of the morally panicked bloviators like Flower. He writes like he is confused about what is the moral position actually is and not finding it in his big book of rules he is reaching to figure it out.

    Maybe he should be reminded that the Holy Bible does not reference bathrooms at all and that the characters found in those pages routinely relieved themselves out of doors. Or perhaps it should be pointed out to him that most likely he has used the same restroom as a trans-man and never even noticed it.

  • uncommon sense

    So, a “man” wearing a skirt and lipstick walks into a women’s restroom and my little girl is in there using the restroom…. Do I really want a MAN in the restroom with my little girl? Do I feel safe with that situation? NO! I don’t feel it’s right for myself either… How does one prove they’re transgender? There’s nobody at the door to the restroom “checking” the authenticity of anyone’s claims. What then would stop a man who’s just pretending to be transgender from entering the ladies room and raping someone or at the least, peeping or taking pictures or doing some other depraved action? If you have a penis, use the men’s room. If you have a vagina, use the ladies room. Easy enough to figure out. If you’re already transitioned “all the way” then the above still applies. Who’s been checking up til now anyway? Do we REALLY need another law? You can’t legislate common sense into people…

  • memyselfandi

    Agreed, we have lost all common sense on this issue. For you and I to be concerned about our children must mean that we are bigoted, mean spirited, and too prudish about nudity and body parts. Now we are the problem. Go figure.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon

    To refute the oft-repeated canard that the War of 1861 was fought over slavery, I need only mention the Corwin Amendment.

    If the seceded States had wished to preserve slavery, they had only to revoke their secessions and ratify that Amendment.

    They did not, because they had not seceded to preserve slavery. They had seceded to escape a tyrannical government — just as their ancestors had done in 1776.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    That is not an argument made in good faith. If it were not for slavery, the political contest of wills would not have occurred at all, so your argument is insipid.

  • CarrotCakeManc

    There’s one thing sure about this latest spate of anti-gay Hate Laws. Like the last bunch, they will all be revoked as unconstitutional. Americans are simply not fooled by the anti-gays’ bathroom lies. Courts will look into the raw attacks on LGBT Americans, and sweep these latest anti-gay Hate Laws into the trash much faster than the “marriage is a special right” garbage.

  • Debbo

    The bathroom scare-mongering tactic is so silly. The percentage of gay and trans men who sexually assault girls and women is miniscule. If you are concerned about your female relatives, watch out for the straight, white male. They commit the most rapes by total and percent by a landslide.

    uncommon and memyselfandi: Not to worry, no gay or trans man has even the smallest interest in you. You are both more likely to be a danger to your female relatives than they are.

  • David Lloyd-Jones


    You’re not paying attention. The War Between the States is the problem. The only reason those straight white males are a threat to virtuous womanhood is the abolition of slavery.

    A man cain’t get no fun anymore.


  • Ben in oakland

    With or without these laws, men can do exactly what you suggest. But the real question is, where is the evidence that this now or ever has been a problem? aNswer, there isn’t any. It was an attack on trans people, and nothing else. But it would seem to me that lacking any evidence for your scenario, the real problem is not trans people, but heterosexual men. They are the ones raping women, not trans men.

    the vast majority of people enter restrooms because they need to. If a trans woman who still had a penis, but no other visible signs, entered a men’s restroom, most likely she would be attacked and beaten, if not killed. Likewise, if a trans man entered a woman’s restroom, and looked as masculine as so many train men do, he would also probably be attacked, maybe killed.

    Neither, however, would have the slightest desire to do anything but use the facilities. So what are they to do?

    As I said, this is an attack on trans people, and naught else.

  • Ben in oakland

    This showed up in the wrong place. It was a response to me myself and uncommonnsense.

  • Diogenes

    Aircraft toilets allow for only one occupant at a time.

  • Diogenes

    Your uncommon sense is all to common for those with a brain and normal sensibilities.

  • Diogenes

    a wholly unjustified slur…you have no particular knowledge of the character of “uncommon” or anyone else, your bias against heterosexual males is evident.

  • David Lloyd-Jones


    So the mile high club doesn’t exist?

    And infants who get on planes suddenly learn how to look after themselves?

    What I hope to live to see is the robot which reaches out from the screen and shakes by the throat people who just make up silly stuff.


  • David Lloyd-Jones


    Your suggestion is that slavery in the Unite States existed for some other reason than the benefit of whites, mostly males?

    And your accounting for the mixed coloration of Americans would be…?


  • George Nixon Shuler

    “War Between the States” = resistance to ending slavery by privileged class, instigated by racists, and followed by a de facto form of slavery in the system of convict chain gangs leased to be worked to early deaths. This was in every sense a civil war in which the rebellious states desired to keep white racial supremacy and went to war to stop it. There was absolutely no honor in the Confederate argument whatsoever. It was entirely consisting of evil. Uninformed people who by some logic are nostalgic for racist past times euphemize it as a “war between the states” as if both had equal moral responsibility for the evil which precipitated it. They didn’t. I am a descendant of slaveholders myself. They may have been good people otherwise but they participated in an evil system.

  • David Lloyd-Jones


    Agreed on all your pretty obvious points — but I always wonder about this “War Between The States” neologism.

    There were either one or two countries at war, The United States of America and the Confederate States of America. No northern States declared war, because of course that is a power of the US Congress. I don’t know that the southern states ever constituted a legal country in any sense. Just a bunch of traitors, seems to me.


  • David Lloyd-Jones


    Funny, there never was any such Amendment. There was a proposal, which passed the pre-secession Congress, and went nowhere thereafter.

    The aim of the traitor states was the continued enforcement of slavery. The result of the war they started was its abolition.


  • Debbo

    Apparently I missed your point. Sorry. I promise I’ll do better next time.

  • Ginger Marshall

    I’m a wife, teacher, church member, family member, and transgender woman. My driver’s license says Female. My medical records say female. My students call me Mrs. Marshall, other people call me “ma’am” or “miss.” When I’m out I use the women’s room because I look, act, talk, walk, and dress like a woman. And, when I do I’m one more woman in there – unremarked.

    My genitals are the business of me, my husband, and my doctor, not strangers in public places. The fact you’re so concerned about my genitals is more than a little creepy.

  • Ginger Marshall

    Thank you, Ben. Very clear.

  • Ginger Marshall

    Good point, but a “transgender man” is female-to-male. They are on testosterone, use he/him pronouns.

    A transgender woman is male-to-female and is on estrogen, uses she/her pronouns and looks like a woman.

  • David Lloyd-Jones


    Who let you in here?
    Common sense and decency have no place in this discussion.


  • Ginger Marshall

    Oops. Sorry. I’ll try to be a bit more unhinged.

  • Ben in Oakland

    my pleasure. See, you’re not the only person here with common sense and decency.

  • Tammy Rainey

    well if you set up a false description of the situation then you can be properly outraged that your mythological fear might happen.

    That’s called a straw man argument, and it’s illogical.

    Stop it.
    Think better.

  • alison

    I don’t get the connection.

  • Rev Andrew Gentry

    As to the reference to the “late unpleasantness with the Nawth” that was a war over property which in that particular instance happened to be human beings! Like most things in America it came down to profit and enterprise not morality. This insanity has nothing to do with some blue coated yankee taking away Ms Scarlet’s Mammy or Big Sam. So the overfed under read white lackeys serving the oligarchs can put down their battle flag and chill. What it does involve is that same oligarchy planting a red flag so that these same ignorant lackeys will not see that this law made it illegal to sue your employer in state court and also made it illegal to require a living wage.