Jurassic Park comes to Houston

The voters in Houston, Texas recently set LGBTQ rights back. The irony is that they didn’t do it because they have a problem with gays. Their problem? Bathrooms. The cause? Lizard brains.

This setback was the rejection of HERO, or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which would have put in place state-based anti-discrimination prohibitions already covered by federal law, would also have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, for which there is no federal law. Religious institutions were exempted.

The primary reason why voters rejected HERO can be summed up in two words: lizard brain.

There is a part of our brains that is so primitive that we have it in common with lizards. The scientific term for it is the reptilian brain. It’s the seat of instinct. It’s non-congnitive and non-verbal. Bottom line: It doesn’t think. In fact, it’s impervious to reason. When something feels wrong to the lizard brain, it causes chemical reactions that result in the fight-or-flight response. No time for thinking. So it’s no surprise that, according to Buzzfeed, half of the people who voted against HERO had no idea it had to do with discrimination at all. They had heard the opposition’s baseless claims that the ordinance would allow men into women’s bathrooms, their lizard brains took over, and they became terrified.

The lizard brain is very powerful. It uses fear as its primary tool. Not only does it not wait for us to put our human brains into gear before forcing us to react, but also its effects are so profound that we seem unable to think for some time after it has its way with us.

This power was beautifully demonstrated in Houston. Many people believed the fear-based propaganda that the purpose of the ordinance was to allow men into women’s bathrooms and see naked women. Some believed it would pose a danger to women because of potential harassment or worse. All of this is thoughtless, mindless, lizard-brain-based confabulation.

Here are some facts. You remember facts? Those things that we should have in mind before we make important decisions about other people’s lives?

  1. A transwoman is someone whose external appearance at birth (and throughout life, unless surgery is performed) was that of a male, but who has realized that there is a critical disconnect between who she is and what she looks like to others.
  2. The brain structures of men and women have observable differences, and an apparent male who identifies strongly as female almost certainly has the brain structure of a woman. This means that if HERO had passed, no one would have been allowing men into women’s restrooms. A transwoman is a WOMAN.
  3. There have been no reports of women or children being attacked or harassed in restrooms by men who are dressed as women. In fact, the likelihood is that it’s the trans individual who will be terrorized.
  4. The likelihood that a male predator would be willing to dress and act like a woman for any reason at all is probably below zero.
  5. Although HERO would have opened the door (as it were) for a transwoman to use a woman’s restroom, this aspect was a very small part of the ordinance as a whole.
  6. All the women’s restrooms I’ve ever been in are either for one person at a time, or they are lined with enclosed booths behind which women do their business. Even the women who are allowed to use there facilities don’t see each other’s body parts.

There are some people who should be ashamed of themselves for making the lives of trans individuals harder than this disconnect already does. Mike Huckabee, with his disgraceful statements about how he would have showered with the girls as a horny teenager, is at least close to the top of the list, but it’s very long.

We also have people like Ben Carson who suggest that we need to create separate bathrooms for trans individuals. But this puts us right back into a situation where we’re mixing men and women in the same restroom, something that HERO’s detractors insist is wrong. It also forces trans individuals to acknowledge their trans status publicly, something no one should be forced to do.  

The lizards in Houston who voted HERO down are entitled to their opinions. Or, they would be, if there were any evidence they had engaged the human parts of their brains.