What’s Changing for Transgender Men in North Carolina
We recently published a blog post on our main website commenting on the new law in North Carolina that prohibits transgender individuals from using the restroom corresponding to their chosen gender unless they have had genital surgery and changed their birth certificate. We focused our observations mainly on the impact of the legislation on women and transgender women, as have most other commentators. After all, a leading purpose of the law is to protect women from people entering a “ladies room” who have male genitalia.
Just today we spotted an article with a different point of view, and we were glad to see it. This piece, on a website called ThinkProgress.com, discussed ways the North Carolina law may affect transgender males. In fact, the article revealed that the North Carolina chapter of the ACLU and one other organization are suing the state on behalf of two transgender men. And the lawsuit focuses on possible mental and health impacts transgender men may suffer from the new bathroom rules, not just reiterating political points.
Picture yourself in the position of the plaintiffs for a moment. Let’s say you dealt with the challenges of feeling “different” for years, and you have transitioned or are in the process of changing your gender identity from female to male. You dress as your new self nowadays and you’re probably on hormone therapy. You take steps to ensure that your appearance reflects who you really are—a man. You have done everything except “bottom surgery” (genital modification). But in spite of living your life as a man, you must use public women’s restrooms. Think about how conspicuous and anxious you would feel walking in the door with that female symbol in your face.
Then, imagine you happen to be in a busy location like an airport or a convention center and people inside and outside the restroom see you go in. What if you’re a rancher with a distinct masculine appearance including a beard? What if you favor a biker look and shave your head? You may very well cause women using the restroom to feel uneasy or even fearful.
The Think Progress article described another way the new law poses problems for transgender men in North Carolina. For a variety of reasons, some guys who have transitioned are not “out” to employers and colleagues. Having to use the women’s room in the workplace would force the issue and could cause discomfort for everyone.
Finally, there’s the very real potential for safety issues for transgender men in the state. While most violence against transgender members in society is perpetrated against women, transgender men suffer as well. Heading into a women’s room looking obviously male doesn’t seem to lend itself to increased safety for anyone.
In our plastic surgery practice in New York, transgender men and women are welcome. We believe we can help in a variety of ways. We can counsel people on all the aspects of top surgery, meaning breast reduction for female to male patients and breast enlargement for male to female patients. We can suggest other ways to enhance identity, from facial feminization techniques to cheek and chin modification to liposuction for subtly changing body contours. It’s our role to educate and help each patient reach the decision that’s right for him or her.
We just hope that as we help transgender individuals become even more satisfied with their lives, our patients will not need to worry that their state will stand in the way.