Kentucky governor Matt Bevin said last week that he hopes the Kentucky legislature won’t consider a transgender-bathroom bill in the upcoming legislative session; according to Bevin, “the last thing we need is more government rules.” He’s absolutely right, and I think it’s worth offering a conservative defense of transgender rights — which ought to be a conservative issue.
On the American political spectrum, conservatism is the mind-your-own-business ideology. I know smoking is unhealthy, but I enjoy smoking, and my health is none of your business. I know motorcycles can be dangerous, but I like the wind in my hair; whether or not I wear a helmet is none of your business. I realize that fireworks can blow up before they’re supposed to, but they’re fun and my fingers are none of your business. Don’t tell me what sort of car to drive, or what kind of light bulb I can buy, or what kind of milk I can drink, or how to raise my kids.
There’s a reason, when push comes to shove, most libertarians vote Republican. The Republican party is — more often than not, and should invariably be — the party of individual liberty. So conservatives have to ask, is it a good idea to empower the government to start lifting up people’s skirts?
The response, from many conservatives, is that it’s not a question of interfering with personal freedom — the freedom to live one’s own life however he’d like — but of preserving personal freedom — that is, the freedom to go to the bathroom among only people of the same biological sex. Allowing mixed-biological-sex bathrooms risks making adults uncomfortable, and risks opening the door to child predators, or so the argument goes. I’m afraid neither of those positions strikes me as well thought-out. Certainly not from a conservative point of view.