The Left’s Cynical World of Bathroom Politics

mark hendricksonBY MARK HENDRICKSON

I can’t believe that I’m writing an article about going to the bathroom!

But then, I can’t believe that at a time when our country is faced with immense challenges – such as international Islamist terrorism and fiscal and monetary insanity in Washington – the current presidential administration is obsessing about who uses which bathrooms (going so far as to order public schools around the country what their bathroom-use policy must be).

Let me state upfront that I won’t be proposing a solution to the great issue of what constitutes perfectly just bathroom usage. Being uncomfortable about the federal government’s tendency for obnoxious intrusion into every area of our life, I would prefer that this “problem” be worked out at the local and state levels. The purpose of this article is simply to offer an opinion about what is at stake and how weak and objectionable the Obama administration’s case is.

The aggressive manner in which the progressive/LGBT alliance is pressing this issue confirms what critics of last year’s Supreme Court decision sanctioning gay marriage averred – that once the age-old definition of marriage was legally redefined, the LGBT movement would charge ahead and target another traditional moral and cultural standard. Voilá! Now the administration demands that schools let pupils choose which bathroom to use in accordance with their “gender identity” instead of their plumbing, replacing a clear, objective standard with a murky, subjective one.

Get your copy of Mark Hendrickson’s classic in economy:  Problems with Picketty: Flaws and Fallacies in Capital in the 21st Century 

The bathroom usage issue constitutes a far more intrusive assault on our traditional morés than gay marriage. Many Americans who have zero inclination toward homosexuality were willing to accept gay marriage on the grounds that what other people do is their business and not our own, and that two gay people getting married isn’t going to infringe upon one’s own personal space. The bathroom issue is obviously different: Going to the bathroom is one of the most personal and private acts a person does; it is a situation in which individuals can feel particularly vulnerable; and now the government wants to take away that feeling of personal privacy and safety.

The political left is showing considerable inconsistency and hypocrisy on this issue. When it comes to abortion (Roe v. Wade) the left invokes privacy. And that is privacy to commit an act that many Americans abhor. How much more should privacy be respected for an essential human function?

The left wants to create “safe spaces” where sensitive college students may seek refuge from perceived “micro-aggressions.” While I haven’t accepted the validity of the micro-aggression concept myself, can’t the left see that losing a sense of privacy when using public restroom facilities would feel like a micro-aggression to tens of millions of Americans? If there are to be “safe spaces” in our society, surely Americans should have a sense of security when using a bathroom.

The left professes a concern about the “dignity” of every human being. As a general principle, I concur with this. But for huge numbers of people, part of their sense of dignity is their sense of modesty about their bodies. This modesty deserves protection. I understand that a transgendered person might feel a loss of dignity by not being allowed to use the bathroom facilities of his/her choice, but what about the democratic principle that the left holds so dear? In the name of dignity for a relative few, should the dignity of the masses be sacrificed? The New York Times article that first reported on the administration’s great bathroom decree quoted the assistant secretary of education for civil rights as saying, “Schools want to do right by all of their students…” That may not be possible, but surely the Department of Education doesn’t want to fail to do right for the majority of students.

This administration’s eagerness to dictate new norms for bathroom usage ultimately isn’t about gender or sexuality – it’s about power. It’s about control, it’s about conditioning freedom-loving Americans to bow to federal power in every area of their lives, it’s about reducing people to the status of cattle, a herd-like blob, dumbly obeying the prods of their government masters. Here we have the spectacle of Attorney General Loretta Lynch leading the charge toward social re-engineering with her full-court press on the LGBT community’s whims instead of enforcing existing laws that appear to have been broken by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If you have any respect at all for the rule of law, Ms. Lynch, then do your job.

I suspect that team Obama is using this bathroom issue as a diversionary tactic during a crucial election year, a device to energize the countercultural left and force Republicans to spend precious time talking about “bathroom justice” instead of the more pressing issues of how to keep Americans safe and help the economy recover from its Obama-induced sluggishness. I wonder what our founding fathers would think if they came back today and found the federal government crafting a national bathroom policy. I suspect they would seek the nearest (male) bathroom and regurgitate.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at

The Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, Mark Hendrickson, is Adjunct Professor of Economics at Grove City College and Fellow for Economic and Social Policy at The Center for Vision & Values. He is also a contributing editor of The St. Croix Review, sits on the Council of Scholars of the Commonwealth Foundation, and is a Featured Contributor at

Mr. Hendrickson’s most recent books include: Problems with Picketty: Flaws and Fallacies in Capital in the 21st Century (2015), Famous But Nameless: Inspiration and Lessons from the Bible’s Anonymous Characters (2011); and God and Man on Wall Street: The Conscience of Capitalism (with Craig Columbus, 2012).

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