Sunday, November 19, 2017

IF (Deity=Y) THEN (Goto 500)

I have a lot of if/then beliefs.  For example, I don't believe in ghosts.  However, if ghosts are real, then I believe that cats can see them.  The second statement in no way softens the strength of my conviction of the first.  I don't think I could ever be convinced that ghosts exist. Even if I saw one, I would find another explanation.  But it's a quirk of my mind that if somehow I were convinced, I already have side beliefs that go along with it.

Religion's a bit easier. I've probably never believed in ghosts, but I've been Christian before.  So those side beliefs are already there, lying dormant, waiting to be activated in case my primary theology ever changes.

I've been an atheist for more than ten years, and I doubt I'll ever go back.  I'm not sure I would even know where to begin at this point.  According to Wikipedia, there are at least 4,200 worldwide religions.  Christianity alone has at least 30,000 denominations.

I like to think of it like a hotel with thousands of rooms, each room representing a different religion or denomination.  If you're currently in a room, then it seems black and white - everyone's either in your room or they're not.  But for those of us in the hallway, there's a seemingly infinite number of doors to choose from.  There's not much to indicate which one is the "right" door, they all look the same from here.

For every bit of evidence you have that your hotel room is the right one, I guarantee you that hundreds of other hotel rooms are offering the same evidence.  Your religion may use the cop-out, "We don't need proof because faith is what gets you into Heaven," but again, your opposing religions are saying it too.  Being in the wrong religion might be just as damning as being without one, so I'll just stay out here in the hall.

Yet despite my unwavering atheism, I have some strong ideas about the nature of God.  Do not take the following list as any indication that I'm warming up to religion again.  These are just my if/then beliefs.

IF God exists:

Basically, I believe God is both a scientist and an artist.  He's playing the ultimate game of SimCity, and after a lot of effort he has created a world that is both beautiful and scientifically sustainable.  More than anything he simply wants recognition for all the hard work he put into it.

I believe God wants us to study science, in order to understand and fully appreciate his work.  It's like the authors notes in some books, where the author tells us where they got their ideas.  God wouldn't have made science decipherable if he didn't want us to peek under the curtain.

I believe evolution is real, and that God guided it.  I believe the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that the "7 days" mentioned in Genesis are written in God-time.  The dinosaurs may have been an early experiment at creating life, but when that was unfulfilling, God wiped them out and started again, multiple times, until he finally decided to try his hand at a sapient species capable of actual civilization.

I believe the Bible was written in such a way as to be understood by the people of the time.  It was not meant to be taken literally 6,000 years later.  Why hasn't he given us an updated version?  I imagine he was hoping our moral code would evolve along with our scientific understanding, so that we wouldn't need to keep following an outdated instruction booklet.

I believe that a lot of the sins in the Bible were actually listed to keep people safe.  Certain animals were declared unclean because they had to be cooked thoroughly to prevent disease.  They were later made clean because humans were better at cooking.  In a similar vein, monogamy was encouraged at the time because sexual promiscuity could spread disease and could result in unwanted children.  Since the invention of the condom, God probably has a more relaxed view of sex.

I believe that a lot of the time when the Bible talks about the world, it actually means the universe.  I believe we are meant to eventually spread out to other planets.  I believe that God has put other civilizations elsewhere in the universe, and he hopes that we will eventually meet.

I believe God wants us to appreciate the beauty of the human body, rather than being offended by it.  While nudity can certainly be exploitative and sexist, people should not be outraged by nursing mothers and other natural nudity.  I believe that the reason we find nature so beautiful is because God wants us to preserve it and protect it.  The way humans carelessly destroy our planet probably angers God greatly.

I believe God is opposed to sexism.  A lot of misogynists think the Bible supports male domination, but I think that's just a sign of the times.  Back then the world was a much harsher place to live, and it probably made sense for the physically strong to make the rules, while keeping their weaker partners safe from harm.  In modern times, this power differential is no longer necessary.

I believe God is fine with homosexuality.  It's a natural human variation, like hair color or left handedness.  God may have even thrown it in to slow down population growth.  Yes, there are six verses in the Bible that supposedly condemn homosexuality, but those are misinterpreted, taken out of context, and/or only apply to people who lived 6,000 years ago.

I believe God is fine with abortion.  If God truly knows the future, then he knows which fetuses are going to be aborted, and therefore he wouldn't bother to put souls in them.  To claim otherwise is to admit you don't believe God is omniscient. Therefore, being pro-life is blatantly sacrilegious.  You might think I'm stretching there, but my logic is no more ridiculous than a lot of widely believed religious doctrine.

I don't believe the Second Coming or other apocalypse is meant to happen any time soon.  I'm absolutely horrified that there are people in positions of power who believe the world will end soon.  How are we ever going to save the planet if the world leaders believe there's a rapture coming up?

I believe most of the world's religions are really the same religion.  The same way urban legends change as they spread, so does religious doctrine.  Any religion that says, "be good, worship the creator, and you'll be rewarded after you die," is probably talking about the same deity.  People are willing to wipe each other out for worshiping what is essentially the same god by a different name.  I seriously doubt God wants anyone to kill anyone in his name.

I believe God disapproves of the rich.  That's a no-brainer, the Bible is pretty explicit in is disdain for wealth.  A rich person is someone who had the opportunity to help the poor, and chose to buy themselves more stuff instead.  It's pretty obvious they're not bound for Heaven.  But conservatives have convinced themselves that the poor deserve to be poor, and therefore it's okay not to help them.

I believe that Hell is just separation from God.  I simply can't believe that a good-aligned deity would punish people with eternal suffering.  The entire point of punishment is to correct bad behavior; there's just no logical reason to inflict everlasting pain on anyone.  Frankly, it sounds petty.  I believe that following God's moral code earns us the right to join his kingdom in the afterlife.  Those who fall short will be left on Earth, and their souls will simply cease to exist when they die.

I believe that a large majority of modern day Christians are doing it all wrong, and are going to pay the price.  The world is full of sexist, homophobic, racist conservatives, who somehow believe they will make it to Heaven by worshiping the rich.  I believe they will be quite surprised when the end comes.

Or Maybe...

Okay, now let’s change gears.  Above are things I would almost definitely believe if I believed in God.  The following are speculations - things I would think might be true, but only if I believed in God in the first place.

If there is a God, then I'm not sure he's actually magical.  I tend to lean towards more "sufficiently advanced alien" theories, or that this world is just a simulation.

If this is a simulation, maybe the history of the world came about in an attempt to bring about a smarter AI, one that can mix compassion with logic.  Perhaps those who pass the test have their minds copied to a higher folder when they die, while less useful AIs just get deleted.
I wonder if maybe Heaven is just what we're meant to turn the Earth into.  Those who follow God's teachings will make this world into a utopia, while those who embrace hatred will die out.  Perhaps we will eventually cure aging, fix world hunger, and create a world where nobody is ever poor or sick.  Maybe society will split into science-lovers and sun-worshipers, the former building giant bio-domes while the latter die out in the open from climate change.

Or perhaps we really will find a way to transport our minds into computers, and the biblical heaven actually describes a hard drive that "saves" our souls while our bodies are destroyed by some future apocalypse. 

Assuming God has a gender at all, I wonder if God might be female.  It honestly makes more sense to me for the Great Creator to be a woman. Letting us think she's a he, maybe that's just a test.  Maybe the ultimate final test will involve how society treats women.  I have this fantasy where the second coming occurs, and Jesus is an olive-skinned lesbian, ready to mete out judgement for all the racism and sexism by those in power.

Back to Reality...

But again, the above beliefs and theories assume I believe in God, which I don't.  In the real world, I believe that God is a myth that started with ancient people trying to explain things they didn't understand.  It amazes me that religion is so prevalent in 2017, and shows no sign of slowing down.  It also amazes me that despite most religions preaching about love, so many people use their religion to discriminate and hurt others. 

Bottom line: I firmly believe there is no God, and we're destroying each other in the name of an urban legend.  But if there is a God, his followers are greatly distorting his teachings, and they're going to be very surprised when they get to the afterlife.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jury Duty

Last year I served on the grand jury.  For those who don’t know the difference – when most people think “jury duty”, they imagine getting sequestered for a couple of weeks while attending a single, drawn-out trial.  But the grand jury simply decides which cases go to trial at all.  We would hear about 30 cases a day, over the course of a few hours.  We didn't decide guilt or innocence, just whether or not there was enough evidence that a crime really happened.  The vast majority of the cases we heard did go to trial, but there were a few that we ruled would have been a waste of the court’s time.

I can’t talk about any specific cases.  Well, technically I probably can, as any cases I heard are likely public record by now.  But I’d rather not risk it.  More generally, I saw a lot of examples of just how evil people can be to each other.   Some of the crimes were funny, in a “world’s dumbest criminals” kind of way, but most of them were depressing.  I saw cases of theft, forgery, domestic violence, gang activity, murder, rape, child abuse, and so on.

We also went on a few field trips, and had a few guest speakers.  In order to help us understand just where we’re sending people, we visited a prison.  In order to understand how hard an officer’s job really is, we tried a “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” field training program.  We also got to watch K-9 training, tried on goggles that simulated being drunk, got to meet Nashville mayor Megan Barry, and even rode a helicopter around Nashville. 

The prison was pretty scary.  After going through several checkpoints where we had to surrender all personal items including phones, wallets, and even belts, we visited the building where they kept those who are in for life.  We got to go into a typical cell, which was small and efficient.  One of the inmates (in for murder) spoke to us for a while about his experiences in prison, mostly complaining about how bad the food is.  Then we got to see death row, and we were even allowed to sit in the electric chair. 

I was on the fence about that last one.  Before I sat down, I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons.  I didn’t want to be one of those callous jerks who makes light of such a serious machine.  I’m not a fan of the death penalty, and sitting in that chair almost feels like an endorsement of the process.  I finally decided to do it because it was probably my only chance ever to do so.  Maybe someday I’ll be glad I had the experience, maybe I’ll even write a story from a condemned inmate’s point of view.  So I made sure to note everything about the room, how the chair felt, and any other details I might want to remember later.

The “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” program was an eye-opener.  They give you a gun or taser, both of which were originally actual weapons that had been converted into harmless training weapons.  Then they show you a first person video of a dangerous situation an officer might face.  These videos had points at which they could branch into separate videos, like those old laserdisc light gun games (“Mad Dog McCree” for instance). 

For example, there was one where you go into a warehouse at night, and encounter a guy who shouldn’t be there.  He’s standing behind a table with a box on it, keeping his right hand behind the box.  He attempts to explain why he’s there, but he’s just talking to keep your attention of his hand.  Then he suddenly pulls his gun-wielding hand out from behind the box and shoots you… sometimes.  Other times it’s the same video, but he pulls out a stapler instead.  Less than half a second passes between the time you can see the gun, and the time he shoots you.  That’s how quickly you have to decide whether to shoot.  Too slow?  You’re dead.  Bad aim?  You’re dead.  Guess wrong?  You’re a murderer.

It really makes you think about how dangerous it is to be an officer, and you find yourself a little more sympathetic towards officers who have accidentally killed innocent people.  It doesn’t excuse a lot of the cases, but at the very least stepping into an officer’s shoes is enlightening.  And, I hate to say it, but it’s fun.  If they released that program as a video game, I’d buy it.

Nashville by Helicopter
The helicopter ride was my favorite part.  I had never ridden a copter before, and I really enjoyed seeing Nashville from that angle.  The copter was open on the sides, so the only thing keeping me in was the harness.  I was allowed to take pictures as long as I used the wrist strap – dropping a camera from that height could be deadly.  This was easily the high point of jury duty, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity.

All in all, I’m glad I was able to serve on the grand jury.  It was emotionally taxing and I don’t like being too familiar with the dark side of Nashville, but it’s something that has to be done.  I even hope I get the chance to do it again someday… but maybe not for a couple of decades.

Friday, August 12, 2016


I'm on Jury Duty right now - I can't talk much about individual cases, but I am allowed to talk about the job itself.  I'm on the Grand Jury, and we don't declare guilt or innocence, we just decide which cases go to trial. In an effort to make us understand the laws and police procedure better, we've been taking a few field trips.  So far I've watched them training the K9 dogs, I got to ride a helicopter, and I visited a maximum security prison.

Being in Nashville, my fellow jurors are mostly conservative.  They have a dim view of prisoners, and some of them complained about the few perks the prisoners got.  At the prison they mentioned how terrible the food is, and I heard at least one juror mutter that it was better than they deserve.  And so on.

In general, the public seems to agree with them.  For years I've seen Facebook posts praising Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff who got famous for making sure his prison was the roughest one ever.  Look, I don't think prisons should be pleasure cruises either.  However, there is a huge difference between punishment and torture.

When someone says "prisoner", most people visualize the worst kind of serial murderers, rapists, and child molesters. But people are in there for all sorts of reasons. Some are serving 1-year terms for minor crimes. Some have been convicted of things that many Americans don't believe should be crimes. With such a large percentage of Americans lobbying for the legalization of Marijuana, is it fair that some guy who's only crime was possession, be given the same punishment as a murderer? Should he really be doing heavy labor in 138 degree weather, and eating spoiled bologna?

The punishment should fit the crime. And yet all of Arpaio's prisoners, who have committed different crimes, are getting the worst punishments available. One problem is that words like "prisoner" and "criminal" make most people think of rapists and murderers. But is there anyone in this country who hasn't broken a law at some point in their lives?  That's what bugs me most - I have friends who I have witnessed doing illegal things, complaining that prisoners have access to TV.  It's like they don't mind if someone's a criminal, as long as they don't get caught.

The general public needs to realize the difference between punishment and revenge. The ultimate goal is rehabilitation. But harsh prison sentences often serve only to make these people harsher criminals. If a prisoner seems beyond rehabilitation, fine, keep him in there longer, if only to keep him away from the rest of society. But don't piss him off for 10 years and then let him back on the street.

There's two kinds of people in the world. The first kind says, "It's better if a few guilty people go free than to risk wrongly punishing someone innocent." The second kind says, "It's better if a few innocent people get punished than to risk any guilty people going free." I'm the first kind, most people seem to be the second kind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Double Standards

I'm just tired of being held to male standards.  If I say something that hurts my wife's feelings, it's my fault.  But if she says something that hurts my feelings, it's also my fault, because I'm being too sensitive.  Would she say that to a woman?  I don't know.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

And The Bathroom Debate Continues

And now the same friend (see earlier blog) posted this:

Your 12 year old daughter goes to the bathroom at the restaurant by herself. Your daughter doesn't return for a bit and you go to check on her and hear her crying in a bathroom stall. She runs to you and says a man just touched her privates. You call the police and they come to investigate.
Just outside the bathroom is security cameras that records everyone coming and going from the Restrooms.
(Cameras aren't allowed inside the bathrooms) duh!!
Your daughter enters the bathroom and just behind her enters what according to the camera appears to be a man. The man is identified later in the investigation and is interviewed by police but says he is transgender and he was just using the bathroom and the little girl is lying.
If people of both sexes are able to enter the bathroom of their choice the little girls statement holds no credibility.
"Her word against his"
Now with the "Bathroom Law" in place, preventing a person of the opposite biological sex from entering the bathroom of their choice the little girls statement is credible and the offender has to explain why he entered a women's restroom when knowing it was against the law. This is maybe the evidence that helps convict the defendant or maybe the only evidence.
Now does this help the liberals understand!!!!!!
It's not about discrimination folks.

Actually, in the scenario above, I seriously doubt the creep saying he was transgender would help his case at all. Nobody's just going to take his word for it.  At the very least I'm sure they would ask for further evidence that he was transgender.  People don't just wake up one day, say "I'm transgender!" and start using women's restroom.  Myself, I have public blogs going back 10 years that discuss my gender issues.  I have friends who can corroborate that I'm transgender.  I've seen four therapists,  who presumably kept records.  I have photos of me en femme, a box full of women's clothing in my size, and so on.  

As I said in the last blog, women molest children too.  And men usually molest girls in other places besides public restrooms  So I'm not sure how many people this law would actually protect.  Meanwhile these laws will harm many, many trans people in all stages of transition.

These bathroom bills are evil, period.  They put trans lives in danger, they treat trans people like criminals, and they don't actually protect the ciswomen they're trying to protect.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Only Time Will Tell

Time is too nebulous a concept for me to grasp sometimes.  I have no idea what happened 10 or 20 years ago, and so I anchor everything to where I lived or worked when such-and-such happened.  I have to check IMDB to remember how old my cat is, because we bought her the same day we saw the fourth “Die Hard” movie.  I've been in my current job for 16 years, and it amazes me how far we've come in that time.  When I started working here, everyone had dial-up internet, and cell phones were just starting to become common.  I remember the first year I worked here, the CEO declaring "no cell phones in the building" because he felt they were a distraction.  He'd never get away with that today, now that they're so ubiquitous.

New technology tends to make the old ways look barbaric within a few decades.  Look at all the memes making fun of cassette tapes and floppy disks, and that’s fairly recent technology in the grand scheme of things.  Once we've all had self-driving cars for 20 years, we'll look back and say, "People used to operate cars by hand?  How unsafe!"  Once we invent a healthy lab-grown meat that tastes good, and use it for a couple of decades, we'll wonder how we ever were so backwards as to slaughter living creatures.  The “I, Robot” movie jokes about how dangerous gasoline is going to seem someday.  Heck, if we all switched to Velcro shoes for a few years, laces would look absolutely antiquated.

Meanwhile, social progress just keeps going back and forth, ebbing and flowing like the tides.  If you keep looking to the past, you'll find eras where people were open-minded, then strict, then back again.  In some ways, homosexual activity was more acceptable in ancient Rome than it was 30 years ago.  As much as I like to see things change for the better in my lifetime, it's bittersweet because I know it's not permanent.  Maybe it'll be 100 years, maybe 1000, but gay marriage will eventually be illegal again.  Technological advancements are permanent, but social advancements have an expiration date.

So whenever I hear someone say they’re voting a certain way “for future generations,” I get a little skeptical.  It’s up to those future generations whether something stays a law, and all it takes is a resurgence of certain attitudes for society to take large steps backward.  At best, we can only vote to make things better for the next generation, and try to raise them in such a way that they continue to pay it forward to future generations.  But other people are having children too, and their backwards attitudes are also getting passed on.  Social justice is a war that can never be won by either side.

This feels like a lengthy introduction to a blog on a more specific subject, but really I'm just babbling.  Have a nice day!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More on Bathrooms

A friend reposted this on Facebook:

"I DESERVE A CHOICE TOO! If people want a choice create Three! Everyone deserves a choice. There are way to many sexual Predators in this world to allow someone to Say they "identify" so they can use The female or The Male Restroom. There are creepy men and women in this world and if all a Predator has to do is look or Identify as the opposite sex to be in a private area then we have problems. I'm just saying create a safe area for all. Don't take away my rights by giving someone else a right."

Where to begin, where to begin...  I guess I'll ignore the "to/too" spelling error and all the random capitalization, but don't think it escaped my notice.

Okay, first off, I'd be overjoyed if there were always a third restroom open to all genders.  There are many reasons those can be useful, not just for trans people.  It's not a particularly new idea, I've already heard of some trans people using the "Family" restrooms available at some businesses.  Just relabel the Family restrooms as "Unisex", you have a nice alternative for those who can't decide which restroom to use.  That said, actually requiring trans people to use them is a bit reminiscent of the old "Separate but Equal" laws, and it sends the demeaning message that trans women/men aren't "real" women/men.  But it's nice to have it as an option.

But realistically, you're just not going to get every business out there to build a third restroom. Some buildings don't have the room, and some small businesses don't have the money for the construction.  Going forward I hope new buildings are designed with this in mind, but until then we will often have to work with just the two choices.

I know the author means well, but her statement contains so many unintentional insults that I'm having trouble keeping myself from really going off.  Putting "identify" in quotation marks is a red flag, it shows she doesn't take trans issues seriously.

I think this sentence is the root of it: "all a predator has to do is look or identify as the opposite sex to be in a private area..." That's actually two very different statements - "look" and "identify" are vastly different things - so I'm going to break it up into two versions.

First we have, "all a predator has to do is look... as the opposite sex to be in a private area".  So maybe it's not trans people that worry the author, it's the possibility of cis men pretending to be trans so they can sneak into restrooms.  Of course, they can disguise themselves already, with or without a law.  If cisgender people are going to disguise themselves as the opposite sex to sneak into restrooms for sexual assaults (and I'd like to see a cite that this actually happens with any regularity), then they'll still do so.  People planning a sexual assault probably won't be deterred by a law.

But I guess not every man is feminine enough to pull off such a disguise, so those men will just say, "I'm transgender!" so they can still go into the bathroom and assault women.  Who are they going to say this to?  Is it wise to have such a visible disguise when you're planning something as secretive as a sexual assault?  And what about manly-looking cis women?  Not every woman looks like a supermodel; is someone going to be checking the doors to make sure the more burly women are truly female?

But the second version of that sentence is the one I find insulting.  "all a predator has to do is... identify as the opposite sex to be in a private area."  I guess the author is worried about trans people after all.  Trans advocates argue that there are no reported cases of trans people harassing people in bathrooms.  If they actually identify as the opposite sex (which is the point of all this), then they probably aren't a predator.  A transwoman using a women's restroom is there for the same reason as the cis women. 

But the phrasing of that sentence is infuriating.  "All they have to do is identify", oh is that all?  What an idiot I've been!  Of course all my trans issues have been about wanting to use women's restrooms, and all I had to do was identify as a woman in order to get in there!  It was a cunning plan, involving four decades of psychological trickery to morph my inner psyche so that I'd identify as the opposite gender, all so I could be rewarded with using the toilets in the women's room.  Imagine my disappointment when I finally got in there and discovered the women's commodes were identical to the men's.  There was no magic unicorn spigot dispensing gold coins as I'd always believed.  I'm starting to think it wasn't worth it.

Has the author considered the fact that sexual predators come in both sexes, and target victims of both sexes?  There are already adult men who molest young boys, how do we protect the male children?  Should men not be allowed in the men's room?  There are also female pedophiles, how do you know that the woman in the stall next to your daughter isn't planning to kidnap her?  And what about lesbians?  They're attracted to women, and can legally use women's restrooms.  Aren't you afraid they'll sexually assault other women?  Looks like there's all kinds of checks we're going to have to do before we let people use the restroom.

As I've said before, I'm not comfortable in public restrooms.  I can definitely relate to those who get nervous by the presence of others.  If a woman has trouble peeing in a stall next to someone she perceives as a man in a dress, I sympathize.  But that "man in a dress" most likely agonized over which restroom to use.  She (and I do mean "she") might have held it in as long as she could, knowing that picking the wrong door could get her beaten up or arrested.  She probably even considered going home early, sacrificing the rest of her night out in order to relieve her bladder in the safety of her own home.  For someone like that, a third restroom would be a godsend.

But a lot of trans people are farther along than that.  Those who are late in their transition are no longer questioning.  They are who they feel they are, period.  You may have a transwoman who has spent years transitioning, and looks female, dresses female, and is never questioned.  Maybe she still has male genitalia, but you'd never know unless you saw her naked, and that's none of your business anyway.  It's ridiculous to say this woman should use the men's room based on her birth certificate.  You think you're uncomfortable peeing next to a "man in a dress"?  Don't you think the men feel a little uncomfortable when this obvious woman walks into their restroom?  Won't the women be a little uncomfortable when a fully transitioned female-to-male uses the women's room?

Yes, there's two sides to this, I get that.  On the one hand, we have trans people wanting to feel safe.  On the other hand, we have cis women wanting to feel safe.  Since cis women outnumber trans women, I can see the logic in giving them the priority.  But how likely is each scenario?  A trans woman, fully decked out en femme, could get killed going into the men's room.  "Trans panic" assaults are so depressingly common that a lot of trans folk are afraid to leave the house.  Meanwhile, the "guy pretends to be transgender to assault women in the restroom" scenario is much less common, if it happens at all.

Okay, but the author isn't necessarily saying it happens a lot right now, she's saying that it might start happening, now that the public knows that claiming to be transgender is an option.  In other words, "We have to make this activity illegal, because some people might take advantage of it to commit a crime."  Let's apply that logic to any other legal activity.   "We have to make driving illegal because some people might use their cars to run over people."  Well guess what, people do use their cars to run over people, a lot more often than people put on dresses to assault women in restrooms.  Yet driving is still legal.

Here's a little secret:  I hate guns.  I wish people didn't have them.  I think the world would be better without them.  Yet, out of 500+ blog posts, you haven't seen me talk about making guns illegal.  Why is that, I wonder?  Maybe because I don't believe we should punish the majority of law abiding citizens over the actions of a few criminals.  Other people's rights don't always benefit you - sometimes their rights even scare you - but they still deserve those rights.

And transgender people deserve to use whichever restroom makes them feel safe and comfortable.  Period.