The recent public debate, concerning which restrooms transgender people should use, focuses on so-called “biological sex” instead of acknowledging how a similar debate, fifty years ago, was misused to justify discrimination against both lesbians and gay men, based on how restrooms and locker rooms were used by gay men who are cisgender (i.e. their male gender identity matches their male biological sex).

Historically, a few closeted gay men loitered in men’s “tearooms” while “cruising” to hookup, or occasionally to “service” a heterosexual man, which led to laws prohibiting this type of “lewd” public sex behavior.

It wasn’t until I was old enough to be involuntarily drafted into the military, when I first learned why my parents never allowed me to go unaccompanied to the Greyhound bus station bathroom or the YMCA gym in the city where I grew up.

I have no problem with transgender individuals using the restroom of either sex, provided they follow the same social customs and laws against lewd behavior that gay men have been successfully obeying for decades.

My Swedish Grandmother used to scoff at the prudishness of Americans by bragging how in the 19th Century she saw entire families naked in Sweden’s public baths.

Thomas Kraemer

Founder, OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund for research concerning humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity

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